One of my favorite moments in the most recent Star Wars movies comes in Revenge of the Sith, when Palpatine orders the execution of Order 66 – the extermination of the Jedi. It’s such a sinister scene, with Ian McDiarmid playing his role as the future Emperor for all its worth. It was the scene Star Wars geeks had wondered about from the first time Ben Kenobi uttered the line, “Now, the Jedi are all but extinct” in the very first Star Wars movie. But we only saw 3 minutes worth of Order 66 carried out in Revenge; certainly it took a little longer than that? Dark Horse thought so, too, and gave us Purge, a trade paperback that collects the five Purge stories published between 2005 and 2013.
Each story focuses on Vader and his hunt for remaining Jedi. He wants to wipe them out – he wants to obliterate any sign of the Jedi’s existence, and he wants one in particular: Obi-Wan Kenobi. For obvious reasons. Palpatine has other tasks for Vader to attend to, and shows up periodically to remind him to keep to task, but Vader’s stubborn like that. While his grudge match with Kenobi is certainly building, it’s by no means the sole focus of the Purge stories; if anything, it’s a reference that the writers touch on every now and again to connect the reader to the movies. These stories are entirely new and compelling, and bring a very sobering issue to the forefront: can you wipe a civilization out of existence by destroying their history? And at what point are you willing to sacrifice your faith’s core beliefs and embrace your enemy’s philosophy to have a chance at victory?
Four different writers take on Vader’s stories in Purge: John Ostrander wrote the first two (Purge, Seconds to Die); Haden Blackman wrote The Hidden Blade; and Alexander Freed wrote The Tyrant’s Fist. Each has a great story to tell, and each captures a complete Vader. He’s coming into himself as a dark lord of the Sith, and he’s still under Palpatine’s thumb, but we see him becoming just a bit tired of being the lackey. There are shades of the Vader we will meet in Episode IV, but for now, he’s swift, brutal, and still the brash upstart that has to be reined in.
Dark Horse does Star Wars well, which is why they’ve been publishing the series for 20 years. The art here is the quality I’ve come to expect from a Dark Horse Star Wars title. The Adam Hughes cover is gorgeous, with beautiful color and movement. That picture gives me chills. The interior artwork was handled by a multitude of artists, all of whom capture Vader’s movement, the flow of battle, and the remaining Jedi’s desperation. I loved every single thing about this series.
Extra Goodies: There’s a graphic novel timeline in the back that places all of the books within the greater Star Wars universe.
The Purge TPB hits shelves on July 10th – if you’re a Star Wars fan, pick it up. If you like good stories with great art, pick it up.
Star Wars: PURGE
Writers: Haden Blackman, Alexander Freed, John Ostrander
Pencillers: Jim Hall, Chris Scalf, Douglas Wheatley
Artist: Marco Castiello
Inkers: Alex Lei, Mark McKenna
Colorists: Michael Atiyeh, Ronda Pattison
Cover Artist: Adam Hughes
Publication Date: July 10, 2013
Format: FC, 120 Pages; TP, 7″ x 10″
Diamond ID: MAR130073