Star Wars: Darth Vader & The Lost Command # 1
Dark Horse Comics
Script: Haden Blackman
Pencils: Rick Leonardi
22 pages for $3.50
I like this comic a lot more than I probably should. I guess there is something to be said for keeping things simple and letting them rip. Often the best stories boil down easily, and Darth Vader & The Lost Command is an emotionally frazzled Vader being sent on a bitch mission to help a guy who pisses him off. In that way it's similar to Haden Blackman's previous Darth Vader Purge story. (Blackman is also assisting JH Williams with his Batwoman scripts these days)
This would put anybody in a foul mood, but it gets better when Tarkin sends a little toadie with to make sure an insider reports on the progress. Palpatine goes for this. Rodney Dangerfield got more respect than that.
I was a little worried about running into "bitchy Anakin" because we were so close to the films...that concern was entirely unfounded. Vader takes the 501st over to the Atoan system and takes control like a stone pimp. He's a strong leader of very few words. "Level that building. Drown those prisoners. Shut up and step on those kittens." It's a thing of beauty.
This is not exactly a testament to efficiency in comic book storytelling. You can read it in about four minutes if you have a mind too. Part of that is by author's choice, part of that is just the sheer amount of action poured into it. In order to paint a battle scene, you have to burn panels to reveal the action. Once Vader lands his team, they encounter resistance, and fighting is inevitable.
After capturing the tower and interrogating whatever was left after they chewed through it with blasters, Vader is no closer to discovering the whereabouts of Garoche. The twist at the end of the book is the mysterious appearance of Lady Saro. She walks over to Vader....on water, and announces her intention to help him find whatever he seeks. Hmmmm.
I'm not sure if we're really going to gain much insight into the guts of the Vader character, but he's a complete bad ass and the story takes no time getting rolling. More comics could probably learn from that.