Review: Darth Vader #1

The Second Marvel Era continues on Wednesday with the release of Darth Vader #1 by Kieron Gillen with art by Salvador Larroca. Gillen leaves no time for readers to wonder “Well what happened when—” as this ongoing Vader story picks up not just shortly after the Battle of Yavin but directly from the pages of Star Wars #2. Long time Star Wars comic readers have seen Vader on the page plenty of times but how does Gillen handle one of the most iconic bad guys?

One of the neatest things about the Lucasfilm Story Group is that it’s giving readers experiences like this and rewarding those who swing by their local comic store every week. Again, this book ties in directly with the first two issues of Star Wars and yet provides enough context that a reader wouldn’t be lost if they hadn’t read the other book. That said, Gillen’s certainly telling his own story here. He’s writing a Vader who’s definitely a man in the doghouse with the Emperor and who needs to solve the mystery of the Rebel pilot. He’s also writing a story that takes into account the galactic political ramifications of the Death Star’s destruction, something that I hope continues in future issues.

It’s difficult to discuss the storyline without delving into spoiler territory. Gillen doesn’t have the same cliffhanger flair as his fellow Star Wars writer Jason Aaron but he does leave enough hints throughout the pages to keep readers intrigued. I didn’t find this to be the strongest #1 especially in the wake of some other books that Marvel’s released recently but I definitely enjoyed it. Regardless, I’m interested to see where Gillen takes this story and whether or not Vader will continue to weave in and out of the main book especially once he discovers Luke’s identity. I’m also interested to see whether Palpatine continues to play a role in the book and whether it will expand.

On the art front, I really enjoyed Larroca’s work and have been a fan of his ever since his work on Invincible Iron Man. Having to routinely draw an outfit like Darth Vader’s isn’t the easiest of tasks (Iron Man must’ve been good practice.) but he does it well. Larroca also draws a particularly great Emperor Palpatine   Edgar Delgado’s colors are a nice compliment to Larroca’s lines. Another highlight of the book is when Gillen’s writing steps back and lets Larroca’s work do the storytelling on its own for several pages. Clearly this is a writer/artist team that collaborates well together.

Darth Vader #1 is a solid start for the Sith Lord’s ongoing series and gets a recommendation from us. You can preorder the comic from Marvel here for its release on February 11th.

Thank you to Marvel for providing us with a copy of the issue in advanced for review purposes.