Vader, Moff Trachta, Cadet Thom, and the wounded Emperor finally reach the potentially life-saving medical facilities of the mysterious Jedi Ghost Prison. Vader and company’s last hope to save the ailing Emperor are the result of a secret prison where dangerous prisoners were kept outside the purview of the Republic and many of the Jedi Padawans during the Clone War. Just another mistake of dealings in the “gray areas” that helped corrupt and bring down the Old Republic, the Ghost Prison becomes yet another “Jedi lie” that galvanizes Vader’s black and white only view of the galaxy, and its ruling Empire. Sadly, the mistakes of the Old Republic look to continue to haunt and derail the any resistance to the evil Empire that has had an opportunity to rise at this point…
Packed with some pretty thinly veiled, but nonetheless incredibly poignant political metaphor and commentary, Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison continues to be one of the more interesting Star Wars universe based Dark Horse comics released recently. The character development is incredibly fresh and powerful as Thom, Trachta, and the Imperial rebels on Coruscant are all engaging, and in many cases tragically flawed in a Shakespearian way, much like Darth Vader himself. His fascist out look of there being only “…black and white…what benefits the Empire and what does not” was fostered by the lack of transparency that the Jedi Council reveled in before the fall of the Old Republic, and the existence of the Ghost Prison’s existence being hidden from the young Anakin Skywalker was just another mistake that tipped the galaxy into being dominated by a military dictatorship. The whole Star War prequel mythos is more or less a commentary on the dangers of allowing too much power to coalesce into one man’s hands (a la too much power to make war-either justly or unjustly-being concentrated in the hands of the executive), and Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison intelligently keeps this warning alive through its sly political commentary. Haden Blackmon’s tale isn’t itself black and white either though. It is interpretable, and the validity of the motivations of all is suspect and sustainable. It’s a pretty masterful piece of political theatre.
Artist Agustin Alessio’s art is also quite masterful in its layout, recreation of the accurate visages and body language of the Star Wars films’ actors, and its accuracy of detail. He also manages to create a dark and disturbing view of the usually bright and shiny Star Wars universe and environment that fits the story’s heavy themes with his dark and dreary coloring scheme.
I haven’t read many recent Star Wars universe materials, be they books or comics, but if the quality of the mature Star Wars universe comics from Dark Horse continue to be as engaging and intelligent as Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison, readers such as myself will continue to return to the fold in droves.