The relationship Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader harbor is one of spite, anger, and jealousy. These two hate one another and it’s one of the most interesting relationships explored in the Marvel Comics. This week, Chuck Wendig puts that relationship center stage in na annual issue that explores a time right before Rogue One‘s story starts. Prepare for cameos!
So what’s it about?
Read our preview.
Why does this matter?
These comics have done a great job revealing lost adventures, tying legacy characters like Vader into events, and generally giving readers a great taste of more of what they love. The Tarkin/Vader relationship is being explored quite well of late, with both of them literally harming one another in Darth Vader #18 ,and this issue continues that trend.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
If there was any doubt Tarkin and Vader hate each other this issue will give you confirmation. The two are at each other’s throats, though they continue to be civil. This issue opens with the two coming head to head as Darth Vader is looking over the Death Star plans for the first time. He’s not supposed to be there and Tarkin is not happy. Wendig’s dialogue in these scenes is strong and believable. Seeing Darth Vader coming to heel for a human with no Force powers is intriguing, especially when Wendig has Tarkin spout the Force as some kind of made up religion. It’s these dynamics that are most fascinating and they ground the story in a believable place. How else would average humans like us percieve the Force?
As the story pushes forward we see the Emperor demands Vader to follow Tarkin’s orders and the power struggle continues. The story eventually comes around bringing Orson Krennic into the fold as Darth Vader attempts to thwart terrorist attacks that are thwarting the creation of the Death Star.
The genius of this issue, especially if you’re a long time Star Wars fan, is how Wendig pulls in various locations and characters. This further fleshes out the world and makes it feel lived in. Vader, for instance, pops over to Geonosis and later Coruscant. Fans of The Clone Wars will get a kick out of a few flashbacks and this issue dovetails nicely into Rogue One.
The art by Leonard Kirk is clean and inventive in the ideas displayed. In a moment of rage, for instance, we see Darth Vader daydream about killing Tarkin. The flashbacks are rendered in red but around Darth Vader, like shadows of memories. There’s an emotional battle going on and it comes through quite clearly.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This issue connects the dots more than reveals new truths which, in a sense, makes it feel less special. It’s a fun ride and it reveals how close Darth Vader got to Galen and Jyn (giving Rogue One a bookend of sorts if you think about Vader closing that film), but the main meat of the story is not new. Still, a good adventure.
Is it good?
A highly enjoyable adventure that connects the dots between Darth Vader and the Rogue One movie in exciting and interesting ways. Most importantly, it continues to flesh out the heated relationship between Tarkin and Vader.