Darth Vader is a character who is dark, mysterious, and sometimes, a prime example of a reluctant hero who just needs a nudge. We’ve seen him in the films go from an innocent slave boy, to a teen manipulated by outside forces, to eventually succumbing to his anger. Now in the latest comic book series, the good inside of him has shown itself to the Emperor. “Into the Fire” is the latest story arc that has placed Darth Vader on Mustafar after the Emperor has caught him meddling. Now he must rebuild himself without a prayer (or any legs). If anyone can do it, it’s Darth Vader.
The latest issue kicks off part two of the series which opens with a flashback to Anakin reporting to the Emperor he has killed the Jedi and even the younglings. You can see in his face he is pained by this, but he is vigilantly obeying orders. Vader is fleeing for his life from an assassin of the Sith known as Ochi of Bestoon. Greg Pak is focusing on the terrible acts Anakin committed in Revenge of the Sith and tying those acts to his weakened state. Thanks to opportune facial expressions by Raffaele Ienco, we can read Anakin’s regretful thoughts. There’s an interesting juxtaposition going on here as the good side of Vader is reliving moments he might consider weakness in his literal weakened state in the present. That makes the narrative interesting and emotional in its approach.
Make no mistake though, much of this issue is just good, fun fight comics. Ochi of Bestoon puts Darth Vader through the wringer and the battle is lively and creative. The very idea of an assassin who specializes in killing Sith is intriguing and it’s fun to see how Pak and Ienco characterize this mysterious figure. Speaking of newer creations, one can guess from the issue #8 cover what character this story is using, which is fascinating. This is a nice reminder fan-service callbacks pale in comparison to original ideas and this issue has plenty of those.
Colors by Neeraj Menon utilize the explosive lava flows of Mustafar well with good lighting glinting off Darth Vader’s costume and the fiery lava. The Ochi of Bestoon costume has some finer details that are well done, capturing the futuristic look while supplying a grungier, worn color palette for the costume he wears.
Like I said though, as it stands, much of this book is a fight comic which does make things move along quite fast. With Darth Vader having no real ties to Ochi of Bestoon, their fight lacks a sense of stakes. In a way, it’s like watching your favorite superhero fight some goon who won’t matter in two issues. It’s early yet, though, so here’s hoping Ochi of Bestoon gets fleshed out as time goes on.
Have you ever wondered how Darth Vader lives with himself after killing innocent Jedi and younglings? Ever wanted to see Darth Vader near death, fighting for his life while pondering his weaknesses? Star Wars: Darth Vader #7 ties into Darth Vader’s self-doubt and past acts in a fascinating way.
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