Into The Fire – Part II: The Assassin
PAIN LEADS TO ANGER AND ANGER LEADS TO AN ELEMENT FROM EPISODE IV! As DARTH VADER battered and broken by the EMPEROR as punishment for his rebellion, drags himself across the blasted surface of MUSTAFAR with vengeance on his mind! But can he survive the onslaught of a certain mysterious SITH ASSASSIN? And how will his world change when he learns his enemy’s GREATEST SECRET?!!Marvel.com official solicitation
Greg Pak continues to pick through the storytelling crumbs that other creators have left behind. His first arc focused on elements from the prequels with a focus on what happened to Padme’s handmaidens/bodyguards after she died. Here he moves onto the sequel trilogy and more specifically ‘The Rise Of Skywalker’.
Vader’s refusal to execute Padme’s handmaidens is seen as a betrayal by the Emperor. Palpatine brakes Vader’s armour and dumps him back on Mustafar like he found him at the end of ‘Revenge Of The Sith’ with just one working robotic arm. Vader drags himself across the volcanic landscape until he reaches the control room where he slaughtered the Separatist leaders all those years ago. Here he starts to rebuild himself using old battledroid parts.
But Vader is being hunted. We are introduced to Ochi of Bestoon, assassin of the Sith, who was a barely glimpsed plot point in Episode IX. Vader is quick to point out that he is of the Sith but not Sith. Why would the Sith need an assassin? It’s good to see that Pak raises this question straight away.
The bulk of the issues is a fight between the two characters. Ochi is a good character design that easily fits into the Star Wars world and is a strong and powerful fighter but he is clearly no match for Vader. In their dialogue Ochi mentions that he knows Palpatine has real power that can’t be defeated with a lightsaber. Power that only the Emperor could build. This revelation throws Vader and he doesn’t get an answer. We are clearly being set up to get answers to questions that were set up in ‘The Rise Of Skywalker’ but were left dangling.
During the pairs conflict they awaken an entity on Mustafar. Vader gets trapped in a cave and comes face to face with The Eye Of The Webbish Bogg. This is another concept taken from a cut scene at the start of Episode IX when Kylo Ren was on Mustafar. Where as Ochi felt like he fit into the Star Wars universe, The Eye is unlike anything we have seen before. It is a spider-like creature sitting atop a giant humanoid pig head in a pool of lava. If this was the image in the film you can see why it may have been cut. The Eye’s entrance is the cliffhanger so it may turn out to be something completely different next issue but its appearance here take you out of the story.
Raffaele Ienco’s art is strong through out the issue and he handles the fight choreography well and Ochi looks really good to the point you want to see him in live action. But you get the feeling he was thrown a curve ball with The Eye, the image is just to bizarre and cartoony. The great thing about the design of Star Wars is everything feels fantastical but real, The Eye just doesn’t fit with this.
A solid issue with some great bits to it let down by the ending. Maybe this was one thread that Pak shouldn’t have picked up.