Star Wars: Darth Vader #9 (March 2021)

Into The Fire – Part IV: The Assassin Returns

Writer: Greg Pak, Art: Raffaele Ienco, Colours: Neeraj Menon

THE ASSASSIN RETURNS! In his search for vengeance in the depths of MUSTAFAR, DARTH VADER has seized the mysterious key to the EMPEROR’S greatest secret. But the key itself needs a key — which only the deadly assassin OCHI OF BESTOON seems to have. Vader and Ochi are in for the fight of their lives with the fate of the Emperor in the balance — but how much of this is all PALPATINE’S plan? And what happens when the SITH LORD and the SITH ASSASSIN start to figure that plan out?

Marvel.com official solicitation

I’ve been a Star Wars fan for forty years yet this issue manages to show me something that I have never seen before. For the first time I can remember we see Vader just straight up punches not one but two characters in the face.

The story this issue is very simple. Vader it trapped, unarmed and weakened, on Mustafar and is being hunted by Ochi of Bestoon and a squad of mercenary droids. Ochi, following the orders of the Emporer, wants to kill Vader and Vader wants to capture Ochi to get information about the Emperor’s secret plans.

It becomes a cat and mouse game as Vader takes out the attacking droids. The droids are there because they believe the prize is the Empire’s greatest weapon not understanding that Vader is that weapon. The lead droid gets inside Vader’s head when he realises that someone kept him alive because of his value, that someone cared, used every resource to keep him alive. When he catches up with Vader he stabs him in the leg, dislodging a part, Vader turns and punches him in the face shattering his eyes. Vader makes his escape and the driod, examining the dislodged part, discovers that Vader has built himself from trash.

When the droid learns his hunt has no value he turns on Ochi. Vader rescues Ochi out of necessity and it is here that, with a glorious ‘SKLAANG’ sound effect, he punches Ochi square in the face. Up until this point we have always seen Vader as a skilled swordsman and a great user of the force but now we know he can brawl with the best of them. He reclaims his lightsaber from Ochi, who took it away a couple of issues ago, and uses it to wrap up the action of the issue in four swift pages.

Vader needs Ochi because he hinted that he knows of the Emporer’s secrets and he know how to use the Sith Wayfinder that Vader got his hands on in the previous issuse. Ochi tries to trick Vader but Vader is too smart for that and wherever the Wayfinder send Vader, Ochi will also be going. With a bit of lightsaber persuasion, Ochi plugs the Wayfinder into Vader’s old Jedi starfight and it shows them the way to Exegol, the Sith planet from ‘The Rise Of Skywalker’. With Ochi trapped in a pod under the starfighter they set of on their trip to discover the Emperor’s secrets only to be confronted by a massive one-eyed space octopus.

Pak has mastered the art of Star Wars comics. He pulls in bits and pieces from all over canon and is answering the hanging threads of storytelling from the films. He tells his storys after a breakneck pace but still gets in development for characters that are decades old. Whether he is allowed to answer the big questions we will have to wait until next issue to find out.

A quick read but pure Star Wars fun. Also, more proof (despite what the Internet tells you) that the sequels are here to stay.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

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