Okay. Now we’re talking.
Most of the time, I tend to enjoy the first issue in a new story arc but it often doesn’t quite catch me until the inevitable cliffhanger at the end. Darth Vader #7 had me from page one. In a thus far fantastic run, this would have been my favorite issue so far if it hadn’t been for #5.
We start with Vader and his newly acquired Inquisitors who are in for some very unsympathetic training to say the least. It’s also entirely possible that, in his own twisted way, Vader thinks it’s only fair that these lesser dark siders have to pay at least some of the price that he did too. Actually, he sounds rather like Anakin at times when discussing this. It’s not long before Vader learns who his next Jedi target is: Jocasta Nu.
Let’s be real here: Jocasta isn’t the most respected Jedi either in or out of the universe. (Although sidebar: respect and appreciate your librarians, everyone!) To most fans, she’s just that line in Attack of the Clones about the planet not existing. Even Palpatine is simultaneously dismissive of her while also recognizing that she poses a threat. Knowledge my friends, is power. Honestly, she makes Yoda look like a lazy bum with everything she’s accomplished so far after the Jedi Purge. I desperately want to know the story of how she escaped and I can’t wait to see how she handles things in the next issue. She’s a delight thus far.
Another character who’s benefiting from this comic is the Grand Inquisitor. We only got one season with him in Rebels but his backstory and interest in knowledge is fascinating. I can’t help but think this’ll be an point of contention with either Vader or Palpatine further down the line.
Are you reading this Darth Vader comic yet? No? You really should be.
Darth Vader #7: Charles Soule/Writer, Giuseppe Camuncoli/Pencils, Daniele Orlandini/Inks, David Curiel/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor
It’s interesting how an issue with a ton of action can also be an issue where not much happens. The series so far has left Vader a little worse for the wear and honestly, he probably needs a few minutes where not much happens. (Too bad he doesn’t get much of one.)
This will be one of the spoiler filled reviews. Just a warning. Continue reading
I feel like I’m just repeating myself at this point but it bears saying again: War Stories is a very X-Wingy sort of story. That’s X-Wing with a capital X, by the way. As in the X-Wing series.
Why has War Stories made me happy? Oh let us count the ways…
- It made the series feel like more of an ensemble piece again
- It’s not afraid of humor
- This includes bad jokes/puns because our heroes can’t be perfect at everything (LOOKING AT YOU, POE DAMERON)
- The use of a holojournalist and propaganda examines a not as often dealt with aspect of war
- The new main villain would totally be twirling her mustache if she had one and I mean that in the best way possible
- We get illusions to a character’s tragic backstory which leaves us wanting to know more
- It tugs at your heartstrings when you least expect it
Poe Dameron #19 is the cap on a very solid arc that has been very Star Wars to the core. There hasn’t really been any moment that’s left me gasping in shock or crying my eyes out in this arc but it’s been fun and I’ve enjoyed the heck out of every minute. Perhaps I’m biased because I adore Jess Pava but I can definitely see this being a story arc that I keep coming back and rereading. Kudos to all involved.
Poe Dameron #19: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Listen… it’s been a while since we’ve had a gif review and I had honestly retired the format but sometimes you get a comic issue where words don’t really do it.
Darth Vader #5 was just so good that I had to reread it immediately. That doesn’t happen often at all. Just… go read this issue. Even if (and I NEVER say this) you haven’t read the previous four issues. Please. You can thank me later.
Darth Vader #5: Charles Soule/Writer, Giuseppe Camuncoli/Pencils, Cam Smith/Inks, David Curiel/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor
The arc with the boys’ trip and the girls’ trip continues and things don’t really go all that well for our favorites in Black Squadron. (Are you surprised? I’m not surprised.) It didn’t take long for Team Capable Ladies to find the First Order acting suitably terrible. While that’s good from Suralinda’s point of view so she can get footage, Jessika is less than content to wait and record while the lives of innocent people are threatened. Meanwhile, Team Guys is inching along on their search for Oddy and not being nearly as successful yet. Point is… women, we get the job done.
I can’t get over how happy this arc is making me especially since it’s bringing characters like Jess and Karé to the forefront again. I love that Jessika Pava isn’t someone who can just sit back and let bad things happen for the greater good. It’s a lovely contrast to the First Order lieutenant who’s arrogant and comfortable in his assertion that the First Order is better than the Empire so obviously they’ll win.
Surprisingly, Oddy turned out to be another highlight of this issue. Honestly, I wasn’t terribly excited about him surviving but his pages end up being oddly delightful? Although admittedly, it feels strange to use that word here but I can’t quite think of a better one.
Mostly importantly, the War Stories arc is fun. Do their missions have weight to them? Definitely. Does the story still press upon you how precarious the Resistance’s continued existence is? Absolutely but it never stops being fun and in Star Wars? That’s crucial.
Poe Dameron #18: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Anakin Skywalker had no chill and it’s very clear that Darth Vader has no chill either. Are any of us surprised? We shouldn’t be. At the same time though, everything about Vader is a tragedy. (Darth Plagueis the Wise has nothing on him.)
The Revenge of the Sith novelization told us what it felt like to be Anakin Skywalker forever. The answer, as Darth Vader #4 reinforces for us, is not great. Actually, being Anakin/Vader is rather awful. This is the second time in days that he’s been almost completely broken. (The First Order has a Kylo tantrum budget. The Empire has a ‘Put Humpty Vader together again budget.) As I said before, this mission is part of the slow murder of Anakin Skywalker but it’s also the birth of someone else. The birth of something else. It’s mildly disturbing to say the least but impossible to look away.
- Are those Tholothians? If so, they may be the first non-black ones we’ve seen and the first male Tholothian
- It sure is handy that Vader was a genius at mechanical things in his former life
- Does that make him a mechanical genius now?
- That was a very bad joke. I’ll stop.
If Soule goes where I think he’s going next issue… it’s going to be a rough one. Emotionally that is. But we knew that was bound to happen in this book, right? Badass with a side of emotional despair. Thanks, Vader.
Darth Vader #4: Charles Soule/Writer, Giuseppe Camuncoli/Pencils, Cam Smith/Inks, David Curiel/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor
The X-Wing Gods must have heard my prayers because this next arc is another Black Squadron story and not just a Poe thing! Actually, it’s two Black Squadron things which makes it even better.
The first group (which I shall call Team Rad Ladies) is on a propaganda mission. Suralinda, Karé, and Jess are charged with capturing footage of the First Order doing some very bad things which sounds almost deceptively easy. Meanwhile, Team Dudes (Poe and Snap) are off to find Oddy Muva. I’m more on board with Team Rad Ladies. Because obviously.
Back in my review of Issue #13, I mentioned that this comic really feels like the spiritual successor to the X-Wing books and every time we get more of the entire team, it becomes truer. Admittedly, I’m biased towards Jess Pava but I love that we’re getting more of her background here. Her need to work on her own ships and modify them isn’t just a line on her character sheet anymore; it’s a fundamental part of who she is. Granted, I’m now mildly worried about how things will go for her during this arc but at least we know she lives.
- Has Malarus always had one blue and one red eye or am I just now noticing it? Either way… very Ysanne Isard.
- The blurred movement panel of Threepio looks like a bizarre alien head
- Yay for old school starfighters!
- Did Jess have an astromech in her x-wing during The Force Awakens? Someone should check.
- General Organa Sass = A+
It’s painfully clear that this arc is going to be trouble for Black Squadron. I love it.
Poe Dameron #17: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Darth Vader’s hunt for a Jedi to murder for their lightsaber continues and it’s clear that Master Infil’a won’t go down without a fight… and it might be more than Vader can handle.
In a previous issue’s review, I called this book the slow murder of Anakin Skywalker and that still holds true here. The book is also the (and Vader would hate to hear this) spindly-legged fawn days of a Sith Lord. He’s in a body that’s mostly machine and he doesn’t have total mastery of the dark side yet. Contrast that with Master Infil’a who likely took the Barash Vow years ago and who has mostly spent his time training and… yeah. This isn’t the simplest fight. The Prequel Trilogy mentioned the Trials that a padawan would have to undergo in order to become a Jedi Knight. Regardless of whether Palpatine what Jedi Vader would find or not, these are definitely feeling like the Sith version of the Trials. (Only Vader will remain the Apprentice afterwards.)
For the most part, I like the artwork with its more traditionally comic book style. It’s something we’ve been missing in the Star Wars line up since Pepe Larraz’s work on Kanan. There’s something about Vader’s helmet that looks a little off but it’s a relatively mild complaint.
This new Darth Vader book continues to be intriguing as it asks just how much further can you break down the man who was Anakin Skywalker before there’s nothing left to continue on as Darth Vader. You should definitely pick this week’s issue up along with the previous two if you haven’t yet.
Darth Vader #3: Charles Soule/Writer, Giuseppe Camuncoli/Pencils, Cam Smith/Inks, David Curiel/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor
As Poe Dameron #16 kicks off, Poe’s still on a freighter that’s about to blow up and the rest of his squadron are in ships with very little fuel. Oh yeah and they’ve still got to get that fuel ship back from the First Order. No biggie.
Something that Charles Soule has done a good job with is something that’s been in the background of the entire book but that this issue really drives home. The Resistance isn’t that well off. It’s almost like they’re back in the early days of the Alliance where every ship, every shipment, and every life matters. In the grand scheme of the Star Wars saga, a mission like this doesn’t seem that important but in the context of the Resistance? It’s vital. It also makes the Resistance feel that much more real.
What this particular issue does very well is highlight the team aspect of Black Squadron. Poe is great and it’s his name on the front of the book but more than a few readers are here for Jess, Karé, and Snap too. More and more, they’re starting to feel like characters who just might have some staying power like the Rogues of old. I can’t decide what’s funnier: Jess’s reputation with he droids or Snap calling Poe Space Crazy multiple times.
- There’s something about the coloring that’s just very… shiny?
- Nice to see more women in the First Order
- Cyborg Terex is disturbing
- Commander Malarus’ eyebrows are a work of art
- BB-8 continues to be the real MVP but you all knew that
Poe Dameron #16 is a win both for readers and for Black Squadron but… I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Commander Malarus quite yet. (Good for us. Not so good for Poe.)
Poe Dameron #16: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
If you’re a big fan of all the clones… you may want to find yourself something to hug before reading this issue. Just saying.
In Darth Vader #2, Vader has his mission but is seemingly freer to define the parameters. This post-Revenge of the Sith story is a different take on the previously assumed aftermath of Order 66 where Vader immediately goes out to hunt down what’s left the of Jedi simply to slaughter them. Now he has a far more singular purpose: find a Jedi, kill them, and corrupt their kyber crystal. His plan? Go to a Jedi Outpost and utilize their still existing records to aide him in his search.
There’s something about this that feels far more personal than Vader hunting lots of Jedi. When he locates a target in the archives, it’s not someone he’s ever (or we the readers have ever) met before. It’s going to be a very deliberate mission and part of the slow, continuous murder of Anakin Skywalker. The slips back from Vader to Anakin are here within the issue if you’re paying attention even as his actions say that he’s trying to be everything that Anakin wasn’t.
I’m unsure whether Charles Soule intended for Vader’s little droid assistant to be snarky or not but I was certainly entertained. It’s one of the few things that can successfully speak up to the Sith and continue existing. It’s also interesting that the most we’ve seen Vader talk in the entire book so far has been to this droid. Gives more meaning to more machine now than man…
Unsurprisingly, Darth Vader #2 stays on target as we get closer and closer to Vader finding a Jedi and a kyber crystal for his lightsaber.
Darth Vader #2: Charles Soule/Writer, Giuseppe Camuncoli/Pencils, Cam Smith/Inks, David Curiel/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor