New Star Wars comic series gets topicalWritten by Jim Beard | | email@example.com
As a property, “Star Wars” doesn’t always translate well into other media beyond its filmic foundation. A new comic book miniseries from Dark Horse Comics, “Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison,” manages to not only deliver the look and the feel of the famous films, thanks to beautiful art by Agustin Alessio, but also an aspect that’s not often discussed among its many fans: political and historical commentary. Seems the beloved Order of the Jedi Knights kept a few dirty little secrets from the public, namely a secret prison into which many “enemy combatants” have disappeared.
The series, currently on its third of five issues, tells the tale of young Lt. Laurita Thom, a member of the very first graduating class of Imperial cadets after the events of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.” On Coruscant for his graduation ceremonies, he winds up in the middle of a terrorist attack bent on killing the Emperor and seizing the nascent Galactic Empire in a bloody coup. Unfortunately for Thom, the terrorists turn out to be his fellow graduates. Helping Darth Vader quell the insurgents, the lieutenant accompanies the Dark Lord of the Sith and a wounded Emperor to a secret prison that a younger Anakin Skywalker remembers from the days of the Clone Wars — a clear counterpart to the real world’s Guantanamo Bay.
The series’ fascinating narrative hovers precariously within its many shades of grey. Ostensibly, the protagonists of the piece are the original trilogy’s antagonists, Vader and a clutch of Imperial officers, and writer Haden Blackman cleverly places the reader in the prickly “what would you do in the same situation?” position with Thom as he begins to question the very fabric of his service to the Empire. Add to that the questionable Jedi practice of having their Clone Wars adversaries “disappear” after being captured – as well as eavesdropping and recording — and you have a “Star Wars” spinoff that not only builds off the films’ universe but also provokes strong opinions with its plot points.
It’s no real secret that George Lucas endowed his second Star Wars trilogy with a healthy does of liberal commentary on what he saw as an assault on democracy in the new millennium — one wonders if he might not champion Blackman and Dark Horse’s not-so-thinly-veiled commentary on the last Republican administration’s standards and practices during wartime in this thought-provoking series.
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