Star Wars is, of course, a saga mutually rich in adventure as in character depth. The Dark Horse collected issues of Darth Vader and the Lost Command absolutely serves as a positive addition in both areas.
The Republic has fallen and been replaced by the Empire. Emperor Palpatine consolidates his power, assisted by former Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, now known to the galaxy as Darth Vader.
Though Vader has risen to a position of great power, his ascension has not been without sacrifice. He betrayed his Jedi friends, lost his limbs in a battle with his former Master, and inadvertently killed the woman he loved…
There is a period of time after Episode III where questions lay unanswered and the development of the psychological transition of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader was left to the imagination of the audience. Darth Vader and the Lost Command takes fans into the mind of Vader shortly after his physical transformation 19 years before the Battle of Yavin. This is the time period when he is working to squash the last of this memories and feelings for his past life as Anakin. To Vader, Anakin died with Padmé. But her ghost still haunts his mind, and therefore keeps a small part of Anakin alive within him.
But Darth Vader has no time for such sentimental thoughts – he has been given a mission by the Emperor to find Grand Moff Tarkin’s son, Admiral Garoche Tarkin, who has gone missing in the Ghost Nebula of the Atoan System. Garoche Tarkin’s personal friend, Captain Shale, accompanies Vader on this mission in an effort to assure that the Dark Lord of the Sith does not stray from his purpose or get blacker ideas of what to do with the son of his rival. Turmoil quickly ensues upon their arrival as they realize that civil unrest awaits them in this overlooked corner of the Republic.
As the men frustratingly proceed to violently question the local people, they are halted in their efforts by the Lady Saro, the High Priestess of Atoa. In order to stop their violence and lead them to the answers they seek, Lady Saro wishes to make a political deal – she wants to be recognized as the queen of the Atoan system. She will, in turn, proclaim her loyalty to the Empire. But once the deal is struck, the answers she provides them lead to even more confusing findings, such as the sabotaged remains of Admiral Tarkin’s Star Destroyer.
While I am a huge fan of the movies, I have done little in the way of extraneous reading of anything Star Wars related. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised that this comic book series (gathered into one collected HC) was both sophisticated in plot as well as easily understood and well-explained. Writer Haden Blackman was able to balance recognition of Empire goals and events on a large scale without losing focus on the main subject of the story, which is a look into the mind of Darth Vader. Dream sequences play out for the reader as Darth Vader yearns for the life that could have been with his wife Padmé and the son that he thinks he has lost. Unfortunately, he uses these visions as fuel for the fire of hatred and malice that is slowly engulfing him.
As in any well-told comic book story, the art here is a pronounced mechanism of the plot. With pencils by Rick Leonardi and colors by Wes Dzioba, the art here takes on a feeling of fluidity – sometimes appearing as detailed, being used at times even in place of narrative, and sometimes appearing as purposefully vague.
Dark Horse has provided a preview of this recently released hardcover edition, which you can find below, so that you may be able to check out the art and writing style for yourself.