Darth Vader, Moff Trachta, and Lieutenant Laurita Tohm continue their plans to recruit an army to overthrow the insurgent forces of General Gentis, Headmaster of all the Empire’s military academies, who has taken over Coruscant and driven Vader, Emperor Palpatine and Vader's two confidants from the throne world. Intending to cull an army from the Old Republic's prisoners on the secret Ghost Prison that Vader and his cohorts have discovered, they put them through the most grueling of initiations... Meanwhile, Tohm begins to hatch some plans of his own with a certain ex-prisoner of the Prison.
Darth Vader and The Ghost Prison continues to be one of the most interesting Dark Horse Star Wars books ever published. Blackman's taunt pace, morally ambiguous characters, and a complete lack of "good guys" in the plot make it unique amongst Star Wars stories. The characters, while not despicable (beyond Vader and Trachta perhaps) are nonetheless sympathetically portrayed. One can't help but be drawn to their story and struggle while simultaneously being repulsed by their leaders. Blackman's intelligent metaphorical portrayal of the fine line of thought, action, misinformation, and unchecked violence that can easily tip a society (like the Old Republic) from a democratic one into a totalitarian one is smart and relevant. This is Star Wars for the thinking man.
That's not to say that Darth Vader and The Ghost Prison is devoid of action and plenty of lightsaber glow. This is a Star Wars story and, like the originals, it is at its heart a sci-fi action/drama. Alessio's artwork brings all of the action, and the beautifully portrayed subtle body language and facial expressions of the characters, that tell the story visually as only sequential art can, to stunning life. Alessio's most powerful tool here though is his sparse use of coloring. It is dark and dreary, and it fits the story and its theme perfectly.
If you haven't been reading Dark Horse's great Star Wars books, whether you are a fan of the original franchise or not, you should read Star Wars: Darth Vader and The Ghost Prison. It is must reading for fans of smart sci-fi action/drama.