Story: John Jackson Miller
Art: Brian Ching
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael David Thomas
Cover: Michael Sutfin, Dan Jackson
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (10/02/2005)
Aboard the Star Destroyer Reprisal, Darth Vader is searching for Rebel prisoners that would reveal the current location of the Rebel fleet. But somehow everytime an opportunity to capture Rebels presents itself, they always get destroyed. But Darth Vader, aided by Commander Demmings, manage to uncover the person responsible: an Imperial gunner named Lt. Garil Dox who's from Alderaan.
Three issues in the span of less than a month, they must really want to catch up. This is the fourth Darth Vader solo story in this series so far (after #14, 19 and 31). I always enjoy a good Vader story, especially now with what we know from his origin. But I thought this was an average story that doesn't bring much development or enjoyment. I don't mean it's bad, but it's got some weaknesses.
So Vader has obtained the Rebel fleet's escape algorithm from a mathematician they captured in issue #33 (Jorin Sol, who had a small role in "In the Shadows of Their Fathers"). So now all he needs to know is where they are now. Should be simple, no? After a scene where a newly-established Rebel base is destroyed (why do they have a shield when they are outside in the jungle?), Vader is not happy and blames the Commander for killing the Rebels. The character of Commander Demmings is kind of interesting, being set-up as an expert "Rebel destroyer". Vader lets him live when a second chance presents itself in the form of a Rebel blockade runner (how do they know it is a Rebel ship?). The ship is destroyed, and by this time I almost thought this was turning into some kind of parody where Vader would try to capture Rebels and they would always be killed. Then, Jemmings is subjected to a Force choke but something important he says saves him (unlike Admiral Motti, Jemings didn't have a Grand Moff to stop Vader from strangling him to death).
Then the last part of the story, in some sort of twist, has Demmings and Vader teaming up to uncover the true culprit for the destruction, and actually use him to destroy a colony of Alderaanians in the Ejolus system. When they reveal to him what he did, the Alderaanian native Lt. Dox becomes extemely despaired and begs to be killed. One lesson for you, Dox; if you want revenge on the Empire for destroying your home planet, don't go around killing Rebels! That aspect of the story made me wince a little bit.
Brian Ching last illustrated the Obsession series, as well as the aforementioned Vader story in Empire #19. I really like the way he lays out the panels, and the angles of the shots, and the backgrounds. What I don't like is his depiction of characters. Somehow they all have some weirdly-shaped and -spaced eyes. And I know how hard it is to draw a good Vader, and here is a good example. The helmet and armor just don't feel right, especially on the reveal shot on page 4. This really shows how artists like Al Williamson, Joe Corroney and Claudio Castellini raise the bar by being able to depict Vader to near-perfection. The colors by Atiyeh are top-notch as usual, which raises the quality of the art by a notch.
A nice one-shot story, but not really necessary to read. Even as part of the "In the Shadows of Their Fathers" storyline, the connection is very minimal.
Rating: 6.5 / 10 Recommended