Friday, December 30, 2011

Graphic Novel Review - Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command

Set sometime between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (closer to the former than the latter), this story finds Darth Vader on a mission to retrieve Govenor Tarkin's son, who has gone missing while on a mission for the Imperial Navy in the Ghost Nebula. Vader is forced to take Captain Shale as his second in command, since Shale served with Garoche Tarkin and may be able to provide Vader with additional intel.

 The Imperial forces go to Tarkin's last known whereabouts, on an icy world - and once they've suppressed the population, they are introduced to a psychic named Lady Saro. She claims she can lead them to Tarkin, but only if they promise to make her queen of the Ghost Nebula. Vader is reluctant at first to work with her, but as the mission drags on he gives in to her demands, bringing them one step closer to the truth. But the question remains, is Vader's mission to rescue Tarkin, or to ensure he never returns.

 There's a lot to like about Darth Vader and the Lost Command, starting with the fact that there are so many connections between the movies and The Clone Wars TV series and the ships and designs used in this book. There are LAARTi dropships and AT-TE walkers from The Clone Wars, Jedi Starfighters from Revenge of the Sith, heck they even used the Imperial V-wing Starfighter - which I thought was only a Lego set. But then later on, they also incorporate AT-ATs, the walkers from Hoth, and Imperial Star Destroyers - so it makes for a nice blending between the trilogies.

 I wasn't sure at first what to make of the use of Padme, who seems to keep coming to Vader in his dreams. They seem to be a fantasy of sorts, one in which Anakin did not betray the Jedi or try to kill his wife. In some ways it was hard to read these parts of the book, because it's difficult to understand why Vader chose the path he did, and it's especially difficult the more you get to know him in The Clone Wars cartoon. These fantasies actually wind up playing a very important role in the overall story as well, which was a nice surprise as I kind of assumed it was just to show us inside the mind of this broken man.

 There were a couple of niggling issues I did have with the book, though nothing that would stop my recommendation. First, Vader winds up mask-less a lot in this book - and for rather lengthy periods of time. I thought it was understood that Vader couldn't breathe without his mask, and while it may be hard to show emotion from behind that facade, it's a necessary part of the character in my eyes. I also thought the plot was a little predictable at times, and while that might be something that most people expect from Star Wars, I also know that it doesn't have to be that way.

 But overall, it's one of the better stories I've read featuring Darth Vader (he actually gets very few comics or books written about him), the art is really great, and I could really connect the dots between the character shown here and his appearances in the movies (and TV series) prior to and after this point in the timeline. If Vader is a character who still holds some mistique for you, this is a fine entry point for the character in comic form - it requires that you know nothing more than the movies to enjoy it, but if you're a fan who enjoys the details you'll get a lot out of Darth Vader and the Lost Command as well.

1 comment:

Michael Offutt, Visitor from the Future said...

Did they ever establish what happened with Ahsoka Tano? In watching the Clone Wars, I really like Ahsoka and I realize that at some point, she has to die. I hope that maybe she gets away but in Return of the Jedi, Yoda tells Luke "When gone am I, the last of the jedi will you be." So that kinda means that she could not/will not survive the jedi purge as shown in Revenge of the Sith.