Marvel Comics has brought fans a Darth Vader adventure unlike anything we’ve seen before in the form of Vader – Dark Visions. Five one-shot stories and one Dark Lord of the Sith in a collection that sheds a very different light than one would expect on the most feared man in the galaxy.
This time around, Vader may be looming over each story’s character, but he’s not necessarily in his traditional role as the ultimate enemy of the Rebel Alliance and all things good in a galaxy far, far away. Someone out there may just see Vader as their savior and a knight in shining armor, while one Imperial Commander will do everything possible to avoid reliving his life’s worst fear at Vader’s hands. Ever wanted to go head-to-head against Darth Vader in a dogfight? Me neither, but one crazy X-wing pilot out there thinks he has what it takes. But perhaps strangest of all is the woman who falls head over heels in the love with Darth Vader — mainly the armor, cape, and bloody and violent bits.
But before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s slow down and talk about the talented team of creators that brought this unique collection to our eagerly awaiting hands. Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum is the writer behind all five stories and has the unique challenge of not only working with six different artists, but is also responsible for showing Vader as the mysterious Sith, brutal warrior, Imperial commander, mythical destroyer and the embodiment of fear, power, and awe to countless trillions of beings across the galaxy.
In the art department we have the gold standard for the comic industry on lettering, VC’s Joe Caramagna; Paolo Villanelli drawing and Arif Prianto coloring for issue #1, “Savior;” Brian Level drawing and Jordan Boyd coloring for issue #2, “Unacceptable;” David Lopez and Javier Pina drawing and Muntsa Vicente coloring for issue #3, “Tall, Dark and Handsome;” Stephen Mooney drawing and Lee Loughridge coloring for issue #4, “Hotshot;” and last but not least, Geraldo Borges drawing and Marcio Menyz coloring issue #5, “You can run…”
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to shower some praise on cover artist Greg Smallwood. He’s recently earned a lot of kind words from critics and fans alike for his cover work on The Punisher, and as you can see from the cover of issue #1 shared above, Smallwood’s artwork is simply incredible. Vader may not be toting a medieval-era Imperial shield around the battlefield, but he does ride an alien horse and swing his lightsaber. Regardless, the cover art for all five issues is haunting, dark and utterly fantastic. Smallwood’s contribution is one of my favorite parts of the collection and has a fond place as my iPhone’s lock screen background (thanks Greg!).
With all the talent on this book, it must be perfect, right? Well, almost. There’s only one story about an X-wing pilot that just didn’t click with me. This protagonist rubbed me the wrong way and the flashback sequences were a bit choppy. But hey, that doesn’t make it a bad collection. There’s one character who lacks any sense of depth and is essentially a complete maniac, yet I absolutely loved her. You may not love every character or story here, but good news! There are five, so the odds are in your favor. And really, this is a damn good collection of comic books.
When I put down this TPB and finished it for the first time, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that Star Wars: Vader – Dark Visions is an essential for any Star Wars fan’s collection. The amount of talent assembled with the artists Marvel selected for this project is simply staggering. Level uses a truly clever little technique to encase a number of his panels within the outlines of Star Destroyers and asteroid fields, while Lopez and Pina combine their styles to take readers into the day dreams of a hopelessly in love psychopath with a death wish. And I’ve already told you how much magic Mr. Smallwood is making on the covers. I could seriously talk about how great the artwork is all day.
Is there a Star Wars fan who doesn’t love Darth Vader? If there is, I’ve yet to meet one. But regardless of whether you love or hate the most infamous Sith Lord the galaxy has ever seen, I promise you’ll enjoy this very unique take on him from Dennis Hallum. We ease into the legend of Darth Vader as a mythical knight in shining armor, and after a wild trip down the rabbit hole, the red and black living nightmare finishes up with one heck of a climactic issue. Throughout the series, Hallum displays a slew of new perspectives for Vader that we’ve never seen until now and delivers a number of fun and twisted adventures that will leave you begging for ‘Dark Visions 2.’