Review - Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison

The Empire. When someone says that which Empire comes to mind? For most it could be one of the numerous empires that have existed throughout history, leaving their own marks on the world. For others though when we hear the word "empire" only one can come to mind: the Imperial Empire of the Star Wars Universe. An empire that instilled fear and obedience throughout the galaxy with the Emperor at the helm, served faithfully by Darth Vader.

Out now is a new comic run from Dark Horse that shows another side of the Empires’ rise to glory in Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison #1. Written by Haden Blackman and with art by Agustin Alessio, Michael Heisler and covers by Dave Wilkins and Tsuneo Sanda, the comic features the untold stories within the Star Wars universe. One of these stories shows the early years of this new Empire and the pitfalls one unlucky new graduate is going to face.

For Cadet Tohm the sky was the limit as he was making his way to Imperial center (Coruscant) for a mass graduation for the first class to come out of the Imperial Academies located throughout the galaxy. With the Clone Wars recently done, the Empire needed to build up the ranks of loyal officers who have gone through the indoctrination process with loyalty to the Empire the upmost priority.

His only goal is to do what needs to be done to further the Empire, no matter the cost. He bleeds Imperial blood, hearing the stories of how the Clone Wars ended with the Jedi betraying them all and only Chancellor Palpatine having the courage to stand up to them. He is a true son of the Empire, but when things go awry during the celebration night and a big attack happens on Coruscant, Tohm is face with some choices he didn’t think could ever happen.

Blackman has a handle on the Tohm and the story. He even manages to work in Darth Vader towards the end of the issue. Darth Vader has such a cultural aura that he doesn't need characterization, but Blackman does it well regardless. It's likely that both he and Tohm do some damage in the upcoming issues.

Alessio and Heisler manage to imbue Coruscant with life, showcasing grand vista panels depicting scale while also sticking to the nitty gritty focusing in on the characters. Tohm is a standout character, depicted with half his face seeming to be burnt and leaving him with only his right eye; despite this he's still a strong, driven person. I love the panel layout they incorporated for this issue as they go with a lot of three panel pages, but also do this slant style that just portrays the action perfectly.

There is such great storytelling in the first issue. With Star Wars, there are so many stories to tell and characters to place. Even Rebel Alliance supporters will be interested in learning more about Tohm. The first issue is a great look at what happens before A New Hope and the five-issue series will likely become a great part of the Star Wars saga.

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison #1 is available in stores now.