One of the challenges with the newly canonical comic books is the need to balance the menace and mastery of Darth Vader against the desire to deepen his sense of loss and, in some ways, justify his failures. Star Wars: Darth Vader #9 is one of the rare ones that perfectly balances the struggle between the Anakin that had to die (to be reborn at the end) and the legend of Vader that fell across the galaxy.
Vader has incurred the wrath of his master and been sent to Mustafar, forbidden to use the Force, and set upon by one of Palpatine's hand-picked assassins (not a Hand, don't get excited, EU fans). If Vader wins, yay, he's fine. If not, he dies. There was a lot of wind up for this in previous issues that were a mixed bag in how well it did things, but every key piece of information you need is here in this issue.
The Greg Pak script does a great job introducing every of the Bestooni murderers after Vader — including Ochi and the Droid Crush Pirates — and the Sith Lord himself. Likewise, the artwork from Raffaele Ienco, Neeraj Menon, and Joe Caramagna have some very big surprises and superbly engaging shows of Vader's cunning and effectiveness, even when backed against the wall.
Deeply tied to all three film trilogies and carrying a lot of narrative weight with grace, this is the logic behind the legend. RATING: BUY.
Star Wars: Darth Vader #9
By Greg Pak, Raffaele Ienco, Aaron Kuder
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?