What’s the mission statement of Darth Vader: Black, White & Red, other than to see how many stories you can tell with Darth Vader? In the case of its second issue, that statement seems to be “Darth Vader is the most terrifying being in the universe.” A trio of tales showcases that Vader is not a being you want to face off against, while also pitting him against some extremely horrific threats.
First up is the second part of Jason Aaron and Leonard Kirk’s “Hard Shutdown” storyline. Vader appears to be at the mercy of a rogue scientist who seeks revenge against the Dark Lord of the Sith. His cybernetics are shut down, his lightsaber is out of reach…for all intents and purposes, he’s essentially a living statue. But he still has control of the Force, proceeding to use it in some truly disturbing ways. Aaron’s script builds up the tension on both sides; readers will be fearing for Vader’s life one moment then stare in shock as he inflicts violence upon his tormentors. Kirk’s artwork paints a simple, yet scary image of Vader lying chained on a table – the eyeholes of his helmet boring deep into the reader’s soul. Keeping in line with the title, colorist Romulo Farjado Jr. paints the scene in stark black and white with flashes of red ranging from bright red laser chainsaws to blood being spilled.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is “Power” by Victoria Ying and Marika Cresta. This story paints Vader as a savior rather than a force of destruction, choosing to do so by placing most of the action solely within the viewpoint of a small boy. In fact, Vader doesn’t appear until halfway in the shot! But like “Hard Shutdown”, Ying understands that the buildup is worth the payoff. It doesn’t hurt that Cresta backs up that payoff with impressive imagery that includes Vader striding out of a raging inferno, with his cape fluttering in the wind.
The best story in the issue has to be “The Endless Mercy” by David Pepose and Alessandro Vitti, which I can only describe as “Star Wars vs. Alien“. Pepose goes full horror with his story, pitting Vader and a squadron of stormtroopers against a mutated menace. The mutants look like they climbed out of the darkest pits of Hell; Vitti leans into the Alien influence by giving them sharp, angular bodies as well as a predator’s gaze. Their blood red skin provides a violent contrast to Vader’s jet black armor and the Stormtroopers’ pristine white uniforms, and is matched only by the blazing bright fire that is Vader’s lightsaber.
Darth Vader: Black, White & Red #2 continues to paint the Dark Lord of the Sith in a new and terrifying light via a trio of tales. With the series now at its halfway point, there’s still plenty of ground to be covered and plenty of creators to leave their mark on Vader.
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