The brilliance of the STAR WARS universe as conceived by George Lucas almost four decades ago is that the canvas is unmistakably broad: in fact, one could argue that it’s broad enough for almost any fable to weave into its expansive fabric. The canon of the films set pivots in place around which hundreds if not thousands of events can spin-off into their own direction, and Dark Horse Comics has done some fantastic work over the years playing in this sprawling expanse. Knowing that at the conclusion of the Prequel Trilogy that the worlds of this universe were heading into some dark times indeed, writers and artists can now commit pen and paper to some devilish evil that’ll help define what the might and power of the Galactic Empire will look like for a whole new generation of readers … and it’s very gloomy, to be sure.
(NOTE: the following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of character and plot. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I encourage you to skip down to my last two paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Everyone knew the events of the final STAR WARS film, RISE OF THE SITH, only set Emperor Palpatine’s grand scheme to destroy the Jedi Order was only the beginning of the story. Along comes STAR WARS: PURGE: THE TYRANT’S FIST, a tale in which the ‘Hand of the Emperor’ himself – the Sith Lord Darth Vader – begins to carry out the full details of Order 66. Vader and the lovely Major Namada – a female intelligence officer of the Imperial Fleet – travel to Vaklin, where a rebellion fueled by remaining Jedi Knights – one named Cho’na Bene – threatens the sanctity of Palpatine’s government. What Vader believed would be an easy task is proving far more difficult than he could’ve possibly imagined!
Trained first as a Jedi and then as a soldier, Anakin Skywalker – now Vader – is experiencing troubles in carrying out his new master’s demands. Even Palpatine is forced to remind his Sith apprentice that he’s no longer fighting a war on behalf of the Republic when Vader suggests considering leveling an entire city in order to catch on fiendishly clever rebel. As much as the Emperor seeks to transform the galaxy, he must first transform Vader into an agent who gets the job done … that now being to purge the known worlds of all Jedi Knights. It’s a grim task, and, given the fact that even Vader was defeated by his former master (Obi-Wan Kenobi), the new Sith is proving to have more than a few challenges to overcome.
THE TYRANT’S FIST carries through much of the dark, somber tone of the film that precedes it in the STAR WARS chronology. While Vader grows in the realization of what he must become in order to please his new master, the universe continues to push back against those oppressive developments. Given the fact that audiences know who inevitably wins this skirmish, that never lessens scribe Alexander Freed’s attempt to dial up the tension for all the involved players. Vader is far from the Dark Lord we know he’ll be in, say, another twenty years, but he’s well on the way down the path to embracing the worst that the Force has to offer.
STAR WARS: PURGE: THE TYRANT’S FIST (Part 1 of 2) is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is by Alexander Freed; the art is by Marco Castiello and Andrea Chella; the colors are by Michael Atiyeh; and lettering is by Michael Heisler. For the purposes of clarity, I thought it appropriate to mention that the events depicted here take place only months after those covered in STAR WARS (EPISODE III): RISE OF THE SITH. The issue bears a cover price of $3.50, not payable in Republic credits.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. While there are a few new characters added to the mix, they’re thankfully kept to a minimum, and Freed’s tale exploring the career development of Darth Vader under the cruel demands of a slavish emperor is ripe for the telling. The people of Vaklin thought they could rebel against Palpatine’s initial wishes, but, before this is all over, I suspect the Dark Lord will have something very disturbing to say about all of this as he continues to purge the Jedi Knights from their various hideouts across the stars. By his graces, there are dark days ahead for all.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with an advance digital copy of STAR WARS: PURGE: THE TYRANT’S FIST (Part 1 of 2) for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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