The War of the Bounty Hunters put the ongoing Darth Vader comic in an odd spot: how do we include the titular villain into a story about recovering the carbonite-enveloped Han Solo when Vader was the one who put him into said material? Thankfully, Greg Pak finds a logical reason to thrust the Sith Lord into this crossover and does so remarkably well. Considering how this crossover felt long and exceedingly encompassing, it’s nice to see individual creative teams integrate their title meaningfully without compromising on the tone or direction charted in the book’s existing story arc.
Greg Pak continues to chart a nearly impossible task by giving Darth Vader worthwhile character growth, using flashbacks to well-worn cinematic scenes to provide new insight to the legendary villain. By focusing on his relationship to the Emperor, we see the troubled path Anakin leads, with his desire to break free of his master’s control while being bound by fear to his dark powers. The initial issue (#12) puts a focus on this dynamic, with Vader’s mechanical body being rebuilt by the Emperor, and Vader engaging in the ordeal without any anesthesia. We also learn of Vader’s reason for wishing to regain the imprisoned Solo for his own ends, a reason that seems fitting and plausible.
Ochi of Bestoon gets his due in this arc, with the Jedi killer getting ample room to work with Vader in his mission. With only a passing familiarity with the character prior to this arc, I can honestly call myself a fan of the rogue thanks to his self-satisfied dealings with the Vader and the Star Wars world at large. Pak’s scripting understands the need for a character like Ochi in a narrative of this nature, allowing his quirks to impeccably play against the established mainstays in the galaxy.
The art is some of the best in recent Star Wars comics. Guiu Vilanova pencils the first issue, with Raffaele Ienco taking on issues #13-17. Thankfully, even with multiple artists represented in this trade, the art blends commendably with little clash in style. The pencils are cinematic, giving this book a prestige veneer, well in keeping with the ambitious universe fans have come to expect from these books. A slew of colorists, including Dean White and Rachelle Rosenberg, provide appropriate colors to the art, and allow the visuals to pop off the page.
It would be easy to discount the entire War of the Bounty Hunters as an unnecessary crossover; it’s not hard to make comic fans recoil at another event meant to force the purchase of books out of one’s current subscriptions. Thankfully, each title in this Star Wars affair has maintained its own narrative purpose and felt self-contained, allowing readers to read what they wish while engaging with the larger storyline. Yet, Pak’s Darth Vader issues collected here validate just how useful a crossover of this nature can be by giving greater exposure to a line of titles. These six issues breathe life into an established character like Darth Vader, and thanks to this crossover, I’ll be looking forward to what the creative team does with the villain in the future.
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