Darth Vader has been the main focus of Marvel’s take on Star Wars in a lot of ways: He’s the first character to get his own book after all, but it’s also because of the themes at play. The Sith are a backstabbing lot which makes for good dramatic storytelling. So far he’s obeyed the Emperor, but at the same time had to go through Palpatine’s tests and trials that could have killed him. Their relationship continues to develop, but how about the comic itself? Is it good?
Darth Vader #17 (Marvel Comics)
Darth Vader has recently gotten back into the Emperor’s good graces and has been sent to take care of some mining barons on an important planet to the Empire. They need the resources, but the barons have become unruly so Darth Vader has forged a relationship with the planet’s queen to get these barons in line.
Why does this book matter?
Kieron Gillen has come up with a rather interesting story here for Darth Vader and for once we see him as a general. Usually he’s been more of an emissary than a leader of armies and it’s tantalizing that maybe we can find out why in this new story arc. Meanwhile Salvador Larroca is drawing some truly epic moments like a massive explosion of a mining rig last issue.
You’re getting old Vader.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The issue opens with Darth Vader and the people on his side from the mining planet being attacked. Darth Vader does what he does best and that’s move in to strike. Like a viper with blinders, Darth Vader attacks viciously, but is that the best way to fight when at war? Gillen does a good job showing Darth Vader do what he thinks is best, but the characters around him react in such a way to prove maybe he’s not the best man for the job. Once again Gillen is showing us a Darth Vader that isn’t as all powerful as the movies make him out to be.
Meanwhile the “bad guys” of the this story, the barons, are fleshed out well here. We finally get a few faces and a general feeling that they won’t be pushed around. Think of them as political heads of state who’ve been in power for centuries and you get the idea. In a sense that makes it easier to hate them due to their silver spoon upbringing, but you also can’t fault them for wanting to push the Empire out of their coffers. The building going on in this issue will pay dividends if/when Darth Vader finally has the barons in his clutches.
I may not have loved everything Larroca has done on this series, but this issue shows he has the chops to keep up with solid writing. Take for instance the opening scenes with Darth Vader attacking his attackers. It opens with a massive submarine type ship floating up out of lava. It not only looks cool, but the full page splash introduces it in an epic way. Vader, as always, looks fantastic too and he continues to showcase emotion via shadow since we can’t see his face. That’s quite a talent considering he only has a mask to run with.
It can’t be perfect can it?
It may be a stylistic choice but I can’t get over how sparse backgrounds are in Larroca’s work. It makes the well rendered and detailed Darth Vader look as if he’s acting in a shoebox diorama. Sure it helps make the characters pop a bit, but there are times when I have no idea where Vader or other characters are spatially.
Darth Vader likes to watch.
Is It Good?
Darth Vader fans need to check this book out. It not only continues the awesome badassery that is Vader, but infuses his character with his very nature getting the best of him!