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
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
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
When this new Darth Vader book was first announced, I was admittedly dubious especially since it was arriving so (relatively) soon after Kieron Gillen’s fantastic run. However, the more I learned about the book, the more intrigued I was. Darth Vader #1 picks up immediately after the infamous “NOOOOO” in Revenge of the Sith. In other words, we’re going to see more of the transition from Anakin to Vader.
It shouldn’t be surprising given the characters in question but much of the dialogue in the book is given to Palpatine. In fact, Vader only speaks ten times and when he does, it’s for a reason and it’s effective. Just in this issue alone, the evolution of Vader is obvious. He feels far more like Anakin in the first half of the book than the second. It’s enough to make me wonder whether Vader’s tendency to speak infrequently started as a coping mechanism to deal with his new existence. If that’s true… I really shouldn’t be surprised that Charles Soule found a way to make the story of Vader even more tragic. Given that Vader’s now on a quest for a new lightsaber during which he’ll need to corrupt a kyber crystal, I forsee the book only getting darker.
The art duties for this book fall to Giuseppe Camuncoli who brings what feels like a more traditionally comic book feel to the book. It’s a welcome one though. Camuncoli’s pencils add a certain charm to what is otherwise a dark book without detracting from the feel.
And yes! Don’t worry: the issue does have a fun little droid tale in the back. This one stars a mouse droid.
Darth Vader #1 distinguishes itself right off the bat as its own series. The comparisons between this and the previous series are inevitably but to do so really is a disservice to both since they’re entirely different creatures. And this one? Definitely worth your time.
Darth Vader #1: Charles Soule/Writer, Giuseppe Camuncoli/Pencils, Cam Smith/Inks, David Curiel/David, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor
He hasn’t gotten any less busy since the last time we chatted but Charles Soule was kind enough to sit down with me after the big Marvel panel at Star Wars Celebration last week. We talked about his relatively recently announced Darth Vader book and his continuing work on Poe Dameron including a very in depth look at today’s issue.
Warning! This interview contains spoilers for Poe Dameron #13 and I mean major spoilers. They are all in the back half of the interview so you can safely read until the first mention of the Poe book. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Bria for Tosche Station: So you still haven’t talked them into giving you a Palpatine book then? Just a Vader one?
Charles Soule: Yeah but a Vader book is by definition almost a Palpatine book at the same time. They’re still very, very intertwined. The story that I’m telling in the Vader book has Palpatine as the only point of connection that Vader has left anymore. He’s the only person he can turn to for any sort of advice or guidance. His physicality is completely different and completely changed. He has no anchor point except Palpatine, which Palpatine of course knows and realizes and uses to manipulate Vader further in the great tragedy that is Darth Vader’s life. Continue reading →
Only a few items of note this week, so let’s get to them!
OMAR JOINS HAN
Michael Kenneth Williams, perhaps best known as Omar on The Wire, has joined the as-yet-untitled Han Solo spinoff film! That’s literally all we know; no character hints whatsoever. Seems like LFL is at least starting to get the “wow, that’s a lot of white folks” memo, though. Faster than Marvel is, at any rate. (Source)
Darth Vader #24 goes by fast. And I mean really fast.
Look, there’s nothing that you can’t see coming in this issue. Or at least the general ideas of it. No wait, I take that back. The last page made me go “Oh snaaaaaaaaaaap” and then made me cranky that I don’t have Issue #25 in my hands right now. If you think I’m going to spoil that ending for you here though… boy oh boy are you looking at the wrong review.
One of the best things about Kieron Gillen’s work on this book has been how he hasn’t shied away from the Prequels. It’s news to no one that the Prequels are controversial and there is a subset of fans who enjoy yelling about how bad they are and how they should be ignored. Delightfully, Gillen does the opposite and godamn it could not be clearer that Darth Vader definitely used to be Anakin Skywalker and still is at his core. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t still be haunted by the memories of Obi-Wan and Padmé. Despite those internal struggles, Darth Vader is still a force to be reckoned with. Cylo may have activated the kill switch in the suit but it is a gesture that is insignificant against the power of the Force.
There’s not much more to say here. Again, it’s a good issue that is a very fast read. Salvador Larroca does some neat stuff with a page full of lightsaber dueling but beside that… everything’s leading up to the final issue. Everything. How can we possibly wait patiently for that last issue when we know SO MUCH IS GOING TO GO DOWN?
Darth Vader #24: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Do you know what I love about this Darth Vader book? Kieron Gillen never fails to surprise me. He doesn’t surprise me with how Vader always survives no matter what anyone throws at him. Obviously that’s a given. No, how Gillen surprises me is with what he throws at Vader and that’s truly the joy of this book. (Okay, it’s the second biggest joy of the book. Obviously Aphra and the Murder Bots are the biggest joy.) What’s that saying? It’s not about the destination but rather the journey? It’s perhaps the most apt way I can think of to describe this current Darth Vader arc. We as readers know that Cylo’s attempts to stop Vader are going to fail no matter how many arrogant idiots he throws at him but the payoff… oh man the payoff.
If the ending of this issue doesn’t get people talking, I don’t know what will.
One of the things I’ll definitely miss about this book is when Gillen figuratively steps back and lets Larroca have at it for an entire page or, even better, a full spread. I could stare at the ships and beautifully colored space background pages for ages. Bonus points if the aforementioned page also includes Vader because daaaaaaang.
Aphra Watch 2016: Got to breath easy for one (1) issue
Do you really need to ask if this book gets a strong recommendation from me?
Darth Vader #23: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Aphra Watch 2016: Still not dead. Also still smarter than you.
Darth Vader #22 picks up right where Issue #21 left off: with Vader facing off against a cyberanimate rancor. Oh and it all happens on a whale-ship. Honestly, that tells you everything you should need to know about this book because Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca make some crazy magic happen. Science is nothing compared to the power of the Force and the force that is Darth Vader.
Cylo, on the other hand, is proving more resourceful and perhaps a little bit smarter than I’d given him credit for. He’s making very strong forward moves in the ‘take down Emperor and Vader’ direction even if we all know it won’t end well. It’s just a matter of how many other people he can take with him.
In a continuing ode to Doctor Aphra… we may not get very much of her in this issue but what we do get reinforces that she’s still alive (despite working for Vader) because of how damn smart she is and how fast she can think on her feet. Whether it pans out remains to be seen but it’s incredibly awesome to see such a capable woman not just wait around to be rescued… she does something about it.
As a part of the aptly named End of Games arc, Darth Vader #22 continues to raise the stakes and will keep readers on the edge of their seat as we march towards the end of this exciting book.
Darth Vader #22: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor