Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison #2

Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison #2 (of 5)

Writer: Haden Blackman
Artist: Agustin Alessio
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Cover Artist: Dave Wilkins

Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison continues with issue 2, and is no less stunning than the first. As the plot gains ground, this story is seriously taking off. While Haden Blackman spins a captivating story that ensnared my interest, Agustin Alessio steals just as much attention with his wonderful artwork. This is a comic that reaches for the height of visual and literary storytelling.

Lieutenant Laurita Tohm was last seen in a courtyard with a very inconvenient problem tossed into his lap. In Ghost Prison #2, he’s forced to deal with that inconvenience. While the reader already knows Tohm is a faithful follower of the Empire and the Emperor, and can easily surmise what actions he will take, the artwork of the scene drives home the enormity of what takes place. Sure, we know what follows, but to see that…well, it takes the emotion up a level. Tohm keeps course with the Empire, and now that Darth Vader is on the scene, he has a new commander to look up to. The art takes great opportunity to showcase Vader. There is so much that is said about him without uttering a single word on the page. We see Vader standing quietly in his ominous cape and black armor. He hovers over Tohm’s shoulder. It’s a presence that subtly forces the reader to wonder what’s going through his head? What must Vader be thinking at this moment? Rather than spoiling the scene with dialog, the story pulls off something even better through sheer imagery. Throughout the issue there are moments like that and it’s a wonderful touch of storytelling.

Aside from Tohm and Lord Vader, issue #2 also breaks out Moff Trachta and the Emperor. Moff Trachta gets some good dialog and plenty of panels of illustration. Alessio’s work is so gorgeous, you can’t help but appreciate every panel showcasing a character. If your looking for profile shots, there are quite a few to choose from for all the characters, most of them with splendid detail. Beyond that, we get to see Trachta in action as he deals with some treacherous droids. Yet the real highlight for me was seeing the Emperor in such an unguarded moment of weakness. I can’t ever recall seeing Emperor Palpatine appear so fragile and vulnerable. It’s a side of him we hardly, if ever, see. The story pins on this element of weakness and further illustrates how fragile the entire Empire is at this juncture. It adds a lot of emphasis to the story. This isn’t just a footnote in the Empire; this is quite possibly a turning point.

As great as the dialog and narration of the story is, the real joy is in the art. In my opinion, this is some of the best art I’ve ever seen in a Star Wars comic. Some artist really shine and toss in three or four great panels with a lot of nice illustration in between. Alessio, on the other hand, manages to shine on every page with panel after panel continually raising the bar. There’s a wonderful shot of Vader slicing through a droid where the colors and image blur to create the sensation of electrical sparks in motion. You can see the blow even though it’s completely static. The effects of the coloring are just perfect, and not just in that scene, but throughout. Every time a blaster goes off or a plume of smoke drifts in the wind, the illustration nails it. Then there’s the beautiful face work that brings a whole new meaning to photorealistic art. Sometimes the style, when used by other artists, can be a little creepy or off putting. Some artists lean a little too heavy on the CGI feel, while other don’t capture the right blur between reality and art. Alessio strikes a nice balance that maintains the feel of painted art, but adds the level of detail one would expect from a photo or a very detailed computer model. The level of detail he packs in on the inside panels is generally the sort of art you only see on comic covers. It’s amazing that he’s able to maintain it through the entire issue.

I love how this story is slowly building with just the right amount of intrigue. The first issue sparked a curiosity in readers with the startling scarred protagonist whose mysterious injuries raise numerous questions. It introduced us to a character whose very compelling. With this issue, that momentum continues, but also multiplies. The galaxy has been set into a perilous situation. Key characters are now in play in a story we never envisioned before. On top of it all, the issue ends with a revelation that touches upon the title of the miniseries: the Ghost Prison; a place that may have been used by the Jedi to imprison highly dangerous Force users and psychopaths. While we’ll have to wait for issue #3 to find out more, I can safely say that issue #2 was a superb addition to the series. This is definitely not a series you should skip. I give Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison #2 an easy five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

1 Comment »

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  1. Best Star Wars comic I ever read in my life!!! The suspense, the mystery, the action. All A+. Seeing the Emperor in a weakened state, and dun dun dun, WITH HIS HOOD DOWN was great. Only question: Why didnt Vader take advantage of his master’s weakened state and strike him down. This is the best chance, that he’ll ever get.

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