Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin by Tim Siedell & Stephen Thompson
I noticed with interest that this volume was published in 2013, meaning it just missed out on being an official part of the new Disney canon. Yet despite being relegated to what’s now called Star Wars Legends, Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin still fits into the new continuity (minus one small detail at its conclusion) that can be read as a straightforward standalone story.
The head of a vast mining operation vows revenge on Darth Vader after the death of his only son and heir. Having already sent eight assassins to kill the Emperor’s apprentice, he now goes in search of more lethal assailants, one that can guarantee to bring him Vader’s head.
Meanwhile, Vader manages to prevent another assassination attempt on the Emperor, one that very nearly succeeds despite their combined power in the Force. Realizing that the culprits are part of a mysterious cult identified by the tattoo of a headless snake, Vader is sent to investigate the small moon on which they’re said to be hidden.
Little does he know that the Ninth Assassin is on his trail, following him through the strange wildlife that’s teeming with natural dangers, into an ancient temple where he’s offered a life-changing choice.
It’s an interesting little story, with beautiful artwork and colours, and ends with a clever twist which puts the whole story into a new context.
As I said earlier, it’s enough of a standalone adventure that you could read Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin post-Disney takeover and find it doesn’t contradict any of the new established canon (with the exception of an allusion to the Death Star and its source of power that’s retconned in things like Star Wars Rebels and Rogue One).
If there’s one problem it’s that the much-vaunted “Ninth Assassin” isn’t much of a threat at all, despite the cool design and significant build-up. Ah well, you can’t really compete with Vader, can you.