It’s a good time to be a Star Wars fan. Today Marvel has added yet another story to the vast pile of Star Wars comic books that they’ve compiled, Star Wars: Darth Vader. So let’s dive in and find out if their latest contribution to my favorite sci-fi universe is any good!
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The most fearsome villain of all time returns with an all-new series! When Anakin Skywalker fell, both to the pull of the dark side and to the blade of Obi-Wan Kenobi, he rose back up, more machine than man. Having lost everything that was once dear to him, the former chosen one must take his first steps into a darker world…as Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith!
What’s the skinny?
This story picks up almost immediately where Episode III: Revenge of the Sith left off, with Emperor Palpatine revealing to Darth Vader that in his anger he’s killed Padmé, the love of his life. What follows is a scene that most fans can easily predict, Darth Vader venting his rage and hate on anything and everything that’s unfortunate enough to be in his vicinity. From there we take our first foray into the dynamic between Palpatine and Vader, a master and apprentice following the Sith philosophy of the rule of two, created by the legendary Darth Bane. Every Star Wars fan knowns how Anakin Skywalker and Palpatine’s relationship started, just like every fan knows how it ended. What we don’t know is how the relationship of the two developed over the years leading up to the Galactic Civil War–this story is going to change that.
I mentioned Darth Bane because Sith lore was one of the key tools Palpatine used to seduce Anakin to the dark side and it’s a focal point of this story. Darth Vader helped defeat the Jedi and create the Empire, but what comes next? What does it mean to be a Sith and where does the road to mastery of the dark side of the Force begin? Palpatine’s tutelage will bring answers to those questions and the first lesson begins with the tool that all Sith are known for, the red lightsaber.
What’s the catch?
When I saw that the book was 44 pages long, I was thrilled! As it turns out the story actually ends on page 30 and the remaining pages are devoted to a short one shot Darth Vader tale by a different writer/artist team. While the second story was an enjoyable read, I would much preferred to have those pages devoted to the actual story I read the book for.
Is It good?
I’m not familiar with Giuseppe Camuncoli’s work outside of Amazing Spider-Man and to my knowledge this is his first Star Wars book. Three pages in and it’s clear that Marvel picked the right man for the job. Camuncoli does an incredible job of drawing Vader’s reaction to Padmé’s death. The scene is iconic and incredibly important; it was great to see it from another point of view and so well done. I can’t imagine how hard it is to have the responsibility of showing emotion on a character whose face never changes due to wearing a mask. Camuncoli deserves high praise for managing the task of masterfully displaying Vader’s emotions; rage, confusion, pain and focus are all clearly there.
Everyone can agree that Darth Vader learning of Padmé’s death is one of the most powerful moments of the prequel trilogy. The effort to save Padmé became an all encompassing obsession for Anakin; he betrayed the Jedi Order, forsook all his convictions and values, tried to murder his best friend and sacrificed everything he held dear. All of those sacrifices, pain and hardship were in the end for nothing. This scene encapsulates the tragedy that is Darth Vader. Beginning the story here as opposed to where the film actually ended illustrates a writer who truly understands and respects the character. This is where Darth Vader’s lonely journey truly began.
What really gives me goosebumps from reading this story is the realization that I’m witnessing new canon being written about one of the most important characters in the Star Wars universe. We get the opportunity to see Vader’s first armor-bound journey out into the galaxy to build his red lightsaber and understand the meaning behind its unique color. Soule is bringing the Sith out of the shadows, exposing their secrets and giving us insight into a philosophy that has always played a secondary role to the Jedi Order.
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