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!
Vader Down continues this week as Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato take over again and oh my word, this issue is fun! Despite the lovely cover by Mark Brooks, there’s not much of Leia or Vader in this issue. Instead, it focuses mostly on Dr. Aphra and the Murder Bots versus Han Solo and Chewbacca. The stakes? Luke Skywalker and Artoo.
The entire issue is just delightful. At times, it’s actually incredibly funny despite the decidedly unfunny circumstances but it still works. We get BeeTee versus Artoo! (And you thought Artoo and Chopper were different…) We get Chewbacca versus Triple Zero… aka a protocol droid that he doesn’t feel obliged to not rip apart! And finally, we get Han Solo versus Dr. Aphra which is everything I ever wanted but never knew to ask for despite us as readers being told that she’s a dark mirror version of Indiana Jones from the start.
Star Wars #13 is a bit of a change from the rest of the Vader Down event so far. It’s a nice breather from being terrified of Vader (although the next issue promises to do that again.) While some more uptight readers may be put off by some of the humor that verges a little more on slapstick, I found it refreshing and just plain fun. When else are you going to get to see Chewie go after a droid and [REDACTED]? Aaron even nails the essence of Han Solo when he makes an ever so slight miscalculation while being so smug and certain.
I also have to take a moment and take Deodato for not only rocking the hell out of this book so far but for also drawing Aphra wearing that rad jacket that Adi Granov used for the cover of Darth Vader #3. It’s finally in the book!
Just like Marvel promised us, Vader Down continues to be an awesome crossover event and definitely one that you should be picking up.
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.
Yeah. That’s the best way to describe the opening issue of Vader Down.
Story Time! At Dragon Con this year, I was lucky enough to partake in one of the last panels of the convention titled ‘Palpatine’s Plan’ in which we discussed… you can figure that one out. During the course of the panel, I found myself having to continuously defend Darth Vader and the fact that he is powerful as hell and a serious force to be reckoned with. If I had had this comic issue on hand, pulling it out would have been the equivalent of a mic drop because holy hell is Vader a powerhouse.
It’s not like we the fans don’t know (for the most part) that Vader is strong in the Force and terrifying to many a person. It’s not like we don’t know that Vader/Anakin is an amazing pilot. Jason Aaron takes both of those facts and reminds you in a way that you will not be forgetting any time soon. You do not mess with Darth Vader whether he’s in a TIE or on the ground.
When you take a step back, Vader Down is certainly a set up issue but it never feels like it while you’re reading. So yes: Vader, Luke, Leia, Han, and Aphra are all being maneuvered on to Vrogas Vas but this is explosive exposition. It’s a great hand off to Kieron Gillen and I absolutely cannot wait to see how these two gentlemen handle the next five issues of this story.
Mike Deodato knocks it out of the freaking park with his art on this issue and uses his four two-page spreads incredibly strategically and for great dramatic effect. Some of these would look amazing as full sized posters. Deodato also draws a pretty fantastic Han Solo. I hope we see more of his work in the Star Wars universe.
This is definitely one of my favorite single issues from the Marvel Star Wars team thus far and you should absolutely pick it up and the rest of the storyline.