- Writer: Kieron Gillen
- Artist: Salvador Larroca
- Colorist: Edgar Delgado
- Letterer: Joe Caramagna
I have my reservations about this Darth Vader series at Marvel. While I’ve been loving what the House of Ideas has been doing with Star Wars so far, I’m still not convinced that Vader can support an ongoing series, especially the way this one is written. He’s just too dark and foreboding.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the way this series is written. We don’t have any sort of ongoing narration from the Dark Lord of the Sith, and we don’t see beneath his helmet for some helpful facial expressions. He’s the same unknowable force of evil that he’s always been, translated perfectly from screen to page. So there is a lot to be said for how Gillen and Larroca capture the character. Their Darth Vader commands every panel he’s in, and not just when he’s issuing commands.
A mid-issue montage of Vader slaughtering his way through underground snitches is breath-taking in its evil and chilling in its silence. It’s a masterful scene.
Vader himself is a solid, powerful character, and he’s on a pretty cool quest: figuring out the deal with Luke Skywalker. But can Marvel really make that an ongoing series? Can his cold, soulless visage really carry a series? I have my doubts, but I’ve so far been well entertained.
And one answer to that problem involves introducing supporting characters who can have all the personality that Vader doesn’t. To that end, Darth Vader #3 introduces Aphra, the cute and spunky space scoundrel who is both respectful of Vader, but also too much of a motormouth for Vader’s tastes. But she is a master of ancient weaponry, specifically in getting it to work again, and Vader needs her for his investigation. Their scenes together are pretty fun, largely because it’s just cool to see new characters with new personalities interact with Darth Vader.
Gillen also introduces O-O-O and BT-1, the anti- C-3PO and R2-D2. O-O-O and BT-1 are a protocol droid and an astromech droid respectively, but both are homicidal maniacs, so that’s always fun. Darth Vader might just have a pretty strong supporting cast.
Larroca’s art is a definite boon for this series. He easily captures the feel of the Star Wars universe, with its grime, its rust and its distinct personality. His characters, especially his droids, look how they are supposed to look, and that goes a long way to keeping the spirit of Star Wars alive in these comics. And like I said before, his Darth Vader is perfectly imposing and powerful. There is no doubt what this Dark Lord is capable of.
Darth Vader is another solid series in Marvel’s Star Wars franchise. It’s sort of a blend between Star Wars‘ cinematic grandiosity and Princess Leia‘s grounded character-based storytelling. This is a comic about Vader, and the creative team absolutely nails the imposing energy of the Dark Lord of the Sith. But at the same time, by his very nature, Vader must be kept at arm’s length from the readers. I don’t yet know if that will hurt or help the series in the long run.
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