The first issue, released on December 28th, 2005, was written by frequent Star Wars writer John Ostrander and illustrated by Douglas Wheatley (Empire: Darklighter, Republic, Revenge of the Sith comic adaptation, Dark Times). Taking place a month after the issuing of Order 66—continuing off from Into the Unknown arc/Issues #79 & #80 of Republic, few Jedi dare to venture outside the shadowsrumors of the dark and terrible Darth Vader haunting even their waking moments. Yet, some Jedi find this life of fear unbearable. Now, a small band of Jedi have agreed to meet and discuss what should be done to oppose the Empire and its Sith Lords. However, the Empire is always watching, and Vader himself is eager to confront any Jedi that might bring him closer to the whereabouts of his betrayer, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Seconds to Die, released on November 11, 2009, was written by John Ostrander and illustrated by Jim Hall (Rogue Squadron: Family Ties). After Order 66, most of the remaining Jedi are hiding to survive — but not all. Sha Koon, niece of the esteemed Plo Koon, has narrowly escaped the attack on the Jedi Temple, and has been left full of questions about the dark side. Sha Koon will not hide; she will find another way to continue being a Jedi — one that will place her directly in the path of Darth Vader and the Emperor.
The Hidden Blade, released on April 7, 2010, was written by W. Haden Blackman (Galaxies, The Force Unleashed and its sequel) and illustrated by Chris Scalf (Blood Ties, Incognito). On a remote world, Darth Vader chafes at the assignment given to him by the Emperor: guarding an Imperial manufacturing facility from the anti-Imperial natives. Vader feels the duty is beneath him — until he learns that a Jedi Master and his Padawan are in league with the natives. Now the game is afoot, and Vader is on the trail of his favorite prey. No ambush, no local monstrous lizards, will deter him in his pursuit.
The Tyrant's Fist, released in two parts on December 5th, 2012, and January 2nd, 2013, respectively, was written by frequent Star Wars writer Alexander Freed and illustrated by Marco Castiello (Rebel Heist) and Andrea Chella (both worked on Knight Errant: Escape). Vader continues his hunt for Jedi on a world that reveres them. Amidst the planetwide insurgency, the Dark Lord must snuff out one surviving Jedi, as well as kill the fire of rebellion in the native populace. Simple force won't work on these people; Vader must carve out the heart of their pride, and fill the hollow that is left behind with fear and obedience to the Empire, which can only be solved by removing the single block to that power.
A similar concept of Darth Vader adapting to the Empire while hunting down Jedi was also explored in Dark LordThe Rise of Darth Vader and Darth Vader. Though in a different canon, the new Expanded Universe also covers the same topic in Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith.
Tropes in this series include:
- Broken Faceplate: Before Tsui Choi is shot to death by the 501st, he throws down his lightsaber at Vader (who was holding him in the air for his execution) and it cracks Vader's mask at his right eye.
- Koffi Arana and Shadday Potkin were in the Into the Unknown arc of Republic, where we see them escape Order 66.
- Death by Cameo: Sia-Lann Wezz, the example Jedi Guardian in Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars RPG, is included as one of Vader's victims.
- Downer Ending: The entire group of Jedi is killed.
- Kill 'Em All: All the Jedi in the issue are dead by the end of it.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Shadday summoned everyone to Kessel because she figured that they could defeat Vader if they work together. It results in a Kill 'Em All/Curb-Stomp Battle from Vader.
- Sequel: To Issues #79 & #80 of Republic, where we see Koffi Arana and Shadday Potkin escape Order 66. On the other hand, Dark Times continues the story of Kai Hudorra, Dass Jennir, Beyghor Sahdett, and Zao, who were also featured in the same arc.
- Bittersweet Ending: Of course, Sha Koon is killed by Vader, but she has a vision of the Jedi Order continuing to live on under Luke Skywalker, allowing her to die in peace.
- Remember the New Guy?: Sha Koon is said to be the niece of Plo Koon. This rarely came up (in fact, the character only has a grand total of two direct appearances in the Legends continuity), especially in The Clone Wars (which Seconds to Die came out around the same time of), where Plo Koon is an Ascended Extra.
- Affably Evil: Major Namada. She may be a State Sec officer and commits actions that come with the job, but she's fairly amicable and casual to the locals and some of her colleagues, behavior which is comparable to, say, a police officer in real life. She's also friendly enough to a vendor that she talks with on a daily basis to advise him that he needs to stop giving leeway to rebels instead of threatening to arrest him or anything like that.
- Anti-Villain: While Namada is an Imperial and she is supportive of questionable things including propaganda and censorship, assassination and conspiracy, destruction of ancient works, and so forth, she believes its within the best interest of the people and thinks that they're hurting themselves if they continue to follow the old ways, considering the state of Vaklin.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Cho'na Bene, poisoned and weakened by gas while fighting Vader, stumbles into town begging for help and grabbing a man before Namada lethally shoots him. The Jedi leader of the insurgency looking like a drunkard humiliates the public's view of the Jedi and the insurgency subsequently loses steam.
- Bittersweet Ending/Downer Ending: In the ending, according to Major Namada (who is arguably an Unreliable Narrator; she even seems to lampshade this in the ending monologue), the economy and education has improved on Vaklin ever since the end of the insurgency and people are seemingly happier than they were before. However, this comes at a cost of losing faith in the Jedi, the death of at least three Jedi Knights, the destruction of Jedi works, and a tighter grasp on the civilian populace by the Empire as well as the loss of a rebel cell. The very last panels, however, do show a girl finding pieces of one of the wrecked Jedi works, showing that there is a Hope Spot for the return of faith in the Jedi and that their legacy will still find a way to live on on Vaklin.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Towards the end, Namada expresses interest in sending her daughter to the new Imperial Education Center on Vaklin.
- False Flag Operation: Since Namada is already known to the Vaklin public as an ISB officer, she disguises herself in Stormtrooper armor when she kills Bene so that people think it was an understandable situation of protecting a civilian from some loco rather than suspecting that it was a set-up and a conspiracy to kill the Jedi Knight, which would further sour civilian-Imperial relations than it already is.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: Since simply killing the rebel Jedi would just make a martyr of war out of them by the insurgents, the Imperials instead have Bene look like a drunken fool and make it look like his killing was to defend a civilian that looked like he was being harassed by him, allowing the Imperials to get away with it scotfree and ruining the image of the Jedi and thus the insurgency.
- Majorly Awesome: ISB Major Oniye Namada.
- Not So Above It All: An extremely minor case, but it's a bit funny at how immature and brief Namada's response in this conversation sounds in contrast to how professional and casual she is in the rest of the arc.Namada: Save me a sweet roll, Djon?
Djon: Berry and tok nut — last of the morning batch!
Namada: ...I hate tok nuts.
- Villain Has a Point: While her methods are obviously morally wrong, Namada points out in her reports that the locals being stuck in the past and giving up their lives to believe in the Jedi is hurting their future and won't get them out of their predicament.
- Villain Protagonist: The series being about Vader, this is expected. Major Oniye Namada, an officer of the Imperial Security Bureau, is a villain deuteragonist by virtue of having an equal amount of covered perspective as our Dark Lord does.