Just when you thought you knew everything about the Dark Lord of the Sith, Marvel Comics comes along and deepens the story around everyone’s favorite father of the year. Like the Star Wars comic book series relaunched from Marvel, this book revolves around events between Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and answers the question, “What happened AFTER the Death Star blew up?” Unlike its counterpart, this book is told from Vader’s point of view and is distinctly Imperial. Even the introductory crawl, which Star Wars is famous for, has a decidedly pro-Empire stance but that’s part of the appeal of the story.
Title: Darth Vader
Writer/Artist: Kieron Gillen / Salvador Larroca
Cost: $3.99 (Issue #1 was $4.99 and had additional pages)
Age: Rated T for ages 13 and up
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Genre: Star Wars, Science Fiction
The plot is clever and interesting. Darth Vader, the only survivor of the Death Star attack, faces the repercussions of his failure and is put under the command of now Grand General Tagge who the Emperor says was the only commander who had warned against putting too much emphasis on the battle station. As punishment, Vader has been reduced in the Emperor’s sight and the Emperor is plotting something without Vader’s knowledge which Vader has made it his mission to discover. Perhaps this rift between the Emperor and Vader is what leads the Dark Lord to break his allegiance to Palpatine in the first place? It’s interesting to read as for the first time Vader is without the guidance of his dark master.
Part of what makes the plot so intricate is the way Gillen continues to reference Anakin’s life. He does it in a way that is subtle, adds to the plot, and still pays homage to the history that has gone on before. At the end of issue #1, Vader is found back on Tatooine among the remains of the sand people who we are left to assume Vader has wiped out in retribution for his mother’s death. At the end of issue #2, Vader makes the comment, “Hmm. Droids. One can always trust droids,” a hint at his past with R2 and C3P0. And in the latest two issues, Vader makes a return trip to Geonosis and flies away in his personal starship which looks exactly like Padme’s ship. He even makes the comment, “It’s stronger than it looks.” Perhaps a veiled reference to his former love? Although it does stretch the imagination that he could be gone for so long without Grand General Tagge wondering where he ran off to.
No doubt this is Larocca’s best work. The lines, the detail, the fluidity of his art is beautiful to look at. Each page is a piece of art. He captures the essence of the characters with such ease, and it has a cinematic feel to the whole book.
The only part that seems questionable is the rag tag group Vader is beginning to develop. They seem like evil universe counterparts to Luke’s friends. He now has an evil C3PO and an evil R2D2 and even an evil Wookie. It just is a bit too contrived (although to be honest the evil droids are creepy). Even with this distraction, the book is engrossing, the art is beautiful, the writing skillful, and the story so far keeps me turning the page. Worth every penny. You’ll want to read it at least twice just to appreciate it.