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
Want to know how to end a comic book issue? Read Darth Vader #21 because this one definitely got an ‘OH SNAP’ from me. We’re in the final days now of this awesome run by the Vader team and I suspect that very bad things are going to be happening. But first! Dr. Aphra is back!
It’s been fun reading about the adventures of Aphra, Sana, and Leia over in the main Star Wars book but I’m glad to see her returned to the pages of Darth Vader. It’s felt like something was missing the last few issues even though she was never forgotten in the story. Even when she’s clearly feeling less than her best, there’s something about Aphra that just makes her pop off the page. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still very worried about her surviving but it just feels right to have her around again.
On the flip side, we have Vader (I mean, I guess it’s technically his book) who is 100% done and ready to just crush Cylo and move on to better things. In this issue, we get both the ruthless Vader and the one who can outfly almost anyone. The latter is a tricky thing to convey in comics since you’re restricted to unmoving images but Larroca makes it work. If you ask me, Cylo is handling Vader coming after him all too calmly. Even if we didn’t know that Vader and the Emperor survive, those are not two people I would want to tick off on a personal level.
Oh the Larroca/Delgado artwork for the nebula? Drop dead gorgeous. I’d kill to see more pages with it. (And the space whale-shark-abomination thingys. Can’t forget them.)
Darth Vader #21: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
The Emperor will see you now… if you’re Darth Vader. Everyone else must leave. Darth Vader #20 by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca brings plot threads from the last 20 issues all together in a satisfying conclusion without putting a pretty little bow on everything. After all, Dr. Aphra’s still missing in action and Vader wants her found… one way or the other. I continue to be very concerned about her.
The highlight of this issue isn’t actually part of the main story but rather a short back up story by Kieron Gillen with art by Mike Norton titled “The Misadventures of Triple-Zero and BeeTee.” It is ridiculously fun and twisted in a way that only a story about the murderbots could be. Is there anything more gleeful than watching Triple Zero and BeeTee get to do what they do best? Dare I say it… I think I may have enjoyed it more than the main story and I never turn down a chance to listen to Palpatine monologue about how his manipulative plan has worked exactly as he intended.
Speaking of which, Palpatine’s ability to manipulate this apprentice is disturbing to say the least. At some points, he’s not even manipulating so much as blatantly using him. Palpatine wants to revel in ruling the galaxy and having absolute power and he can only be honest about the particulars with a select few. Playing these sorts of games with Vader are reminders to himself that he is in control. Or at least that’s what he thinks.
I’m curious to see where the book goes from here. At the very least, I suspect that Tagge’s going to be in some trouble. After all, that decidedly not trashy Super Star Destroyer ends up being Vader’s flagship and not his. Is anyone but Vader safe in this book? (No. The answer is no.)
It’s ever so nice when you read the last issue of an arc, flip the book closed, smile to yourself, and say “That was everything I hoped for.” That’s exactly what I did when I finished Darth Vader #19 by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca. When Gillen first introduced Queen Trios (then Princess Trios) in the Darth Vader Annual, this was exactly the sort of story I was hoping we would see. (What can I say: I’m a sucker for the Star Wars royals.) Marvel has absolutely delivered.
Some spoilers after the jump. Continue reading
It turns out that all Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca had to do to keep me happy while Dr. Aphra is in mortal danger is have Vader be involved in a plot line that has royal intrigue. I didn’t even worry about her once during this issue! Out today is Darth Vader #18 in which everyone’s favorite Sith Lord must battle the enemies of Shu-Torun’s Queen and Cylo’s apprentices while simultaneously keeping the murder bots in check. Who says that Sith Lords can’t multitask?
As per usual, spoilers and discussion after the jump. Continue reading
Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca are back with the next installment in the Darth Vader as the book takes its turn as a political maneuvering story. Or rather, it’s a story with political maneuvering and a wrench called Vader in the middle. Despite his history with Shu-Torun and Queen Trios, Vader doesn’t really care about the planet and its unique political system. He’s more concerned with making sure it remains loyal to the Empire and that he gets the job done. Everyone is working around him towards their own goals with varying levels of success.
Have we all recovered from Vader Down yet? No? It’s okay, me neither. This week, Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca take us on a brand new adventure to the planet Shu-Torun where the ore barons are rebelling and being very inconvenient for the Empire. Who else would the Emperor dispatch to deal with the situation but Darth Vader?
While it’s probably not completely mandatory, I strongly suggest picking up and reading the Darth Vader Annual before delving into this arc as it provides all of the backstory. The dynamics between Vader and Queen Trios are what really make this issue stand out to me. In a way, it’s like a mirror to the dynamic between Vader and Palpatine in that you have an individual who is used to having power and to having their orders obeyed who is then faced with a stronger individual that they must defer to. I’m curious to see how far it’s taken and how far Trios and Vader can push each other before one of them snaps.
The shift from Skywalkers to royalty is certainly a welcome one at this point in the series. It’s a nice change of pace in the book’s second year before that storyline became stale. Plus, Shu-Torun also gives the creative team a chance to expand the universe and create another monarchy for a particular brand of Star Wars nerd to geek out of.
Of course, this review wouldn’t be complete without expressing A LOT OF CONCERN IN REGARDS TO THE SAFETY AND WELL BEING OF DOCTOR APHRA. (I’ve got my eye on you, Gillen. I’ve read too many of your comics to think she’s safe!)
Oh and also? The cover of this issue by Mark Brooks along with the one teased at the end of the issue is drop death gorgeous.
Darth Vader #16 is a worthwhile follow up to Vader Down and I’m excited to see where the story goes!
LEIA IS A BADASS QUEEN AND I AM VERY CONCERNED ABOUT APHRA.
Or, in other words, Vader Down concluded today with a one-two punch and I have some spoiler-y thoughts under the cut about not only Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca’s Darth Vader #15 but the entire event.
Look. Do you know what’s not okay? That cover to the right by Mark Brooks because MY HEART STARTED POUNDING WHEN I THOUGHT THAT JUST MAY HK-47 WAS BACK BUT NOOOOOO IT’S JUST SOME OTHER RANDOM DROID. *breathes*
Vader Down is back this week with Darth Vader #14 by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca. When last we left our heroes, Leia was facing off against Darth Vader… which always goes well for people.
Despite this issue being action packed, it felt a little bit slower in comparison to the last few. That’s not a bad thing though because honestly? I can only take Vader terrifying me so many times in a row. What Darth Vader #14 does do really well is put some solid character moments into the mix. I recently read an interview from Gillen where he mentioned that Vader Down is testing out how some of the characters react to each other in this three year gap between films and no where was it more evident than with Leia and Vader. Not only is there a difference between how they react to each other now but this is an incredibly telling moment for Leia. In just a few pages, her commitment to the Rebel Alliance coupled with the permanent weight of Alderaan that she carries around have never been more evident. It’s very well done.
The levity breaks are still around in this issue. As per usual, the Murder Bots are turning out to be worth their weight in gold and poor Threepio is going to need a vacation after this. Gillen did a good day’s work when he came up with the idea for Dr. Aphra and the Murder Bots. (That’s the name of my cover band, by the way.)
Vader Down continues to be fantastic and I can’t wait to pick up the next issue!
Look, let’s be honest: Vader Down is essentially Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen sitting across a table from each other while grinning diabolically and going “Oh, you had your artist draw Vader doing that cool thing? JUST WATCH WHAT I’M GOING TO HAVE MY ARTIST DRAW!” Alternatively, just imagine this as a Pokemon fight with Larroca and Dedato as the Pokemon and Aaron and Gillen as the trainers. (I should probably admit that I never played Pokemon or watched it or… this metaphor has gotten away from me.) (Ten thousand bonus points go to the first person to photoshop this.)
Point is, Vader Down continuing to be an awesome crossover event with the release of Darth Vader #13 by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca. As you may have guessed from the opener, this comic is filled with plenty of instances of Vader being badass. Moments like these really emphasize why people are scared of the Dark Lord of the Sith. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Vader issue if we didn’t get more of Dr. Aphra and the Murder Bots. They have some particularly fun parts in this issue that I won’t spoil for you.
One of the best moments in the comic was when Gillen got to play with characters he previously hasn’t been able to: Han and Leia. Their disagreement about whether to go after Vader or to send a rescue mission for Luke really just nails the essence of who they are especially in these early months after the Battle of Yavin. Leia is focused on the Alliance’s mission and vengeance for her people while Han’s more concerned about this farmboy he’s taking a liking to.
Oh yeah. And did I mention all those glorious pages of Vader just stomping all over everyone? Because those were pretty great.