Ever since Darth Vader made his first on-screen appearance, he became the one of the most popular villains to ever haunt an audience’s dreams! Now, follow Vader straight from the ending of A NEW HOPE (and the pages of the new STAR WARS comic book) into his own series, showing the Empire’s war with the Rebel Alliance from the other side! Writer Kieron Gillen (Uncanny X-Men, Journey Into Mystery, Iron Man) and artist Salvador Larroca (Invincible Iron Man, X-Men: No More Humans) bring us a peek behind the mask of evil!
First and foremost, I really want to commend Gillen’s writing in this issue. It really seems like Marvel has tapped into what made Star Wars fun and exciting in the first place and that continues here with Gillen’s work on Darth Vader. One of the main reasons why Darth Vader was such a compelling villain in the original trilogy (besides his totally awesome look) is his sense of mystery. Anyone could have been behind that mask and only Vader knows what it is that he is really after. He was an enigma that we had to dive into to really peel back the layers to see what makes the Sith Lord tick. I think that partially the reason why the prequel trilogy failed so hard ( other than the abysmal scripts, acting, and effects) was that it destroyed the mystery of Darth Vader. Instead of a dark, brooding samurai filled with complex motivations, we were given a petulant, idiotic crybaby with a constant chip on his shoulder because things don’t always go his way. So I am happy to report here that this book is entirely filled with the old Darth Vader we love and not the new Darth Vader that I just want to punch in the face. I think this is helped a lot by Gillen’s choice to not have a inner monologue. We are not privy to Vader’s thoughts in this book, but rather have to discern what he is feeling by his body language and actions. This gives us the separation needed to give Vader his sense of mystery. We don’t really know his goals here, but we do know that Vader is conflicted, which is another great thing about this issue. Gillen is able to make Vader vulnerable, but not weak. He has lost a major battle at the Death Star. He has failed his Emperor. Vader’s place in the Empire is more uncertain now than ever before, but you still know that Vader is not a person to be trifled with because he still one of the most powerful guys in the galaxy. This is just really, really good stuff.
Moving away from Gillen’s spot on execution of the character, the story in and of itself really isn’t anything that exciting because it serves more of a prologue for the things to come. The issue spends its time reintroducing you to characters from the movies and situating them across the board so that the action can really begin. I did not mind this approach because it gave some time to delve into Gillen’s characterization of Vader, but I do feel like there may have been too many familiar faces thrown into this issue. I know Marvel has a lot of pressure from the fans to show us these characters, but that doesn’t mean that they all have to be thrown at us at once. This is an ongoing title. You can wait a bit and introduce them when they seem a little bit more necessary to the plot.
All you need to know about Larroca’s and Delgado’s art is that it is gorgeous. It almost feels like I am watching a Star Wars movie with how cinematic this art feels and you can’t really get any better than that when we are talking about a Star Wars book.
Darth Vader makes his triumphant return in this issue and I cannot wait to read more. Glillen’s characterization of Vader is perfect and the art for Larroca and Delgado is cinematic and beautiful. What more can you want from a Star Wars book?