Marvel Comics’ Star Wars Review And Spoilers: Darth Vader #1 By Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca And Edgar Delgado

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DARTH VADER #1 Review & Spoilers
“Vader”, pt. 1 (30 pages)

Story by: Kieron Gillen
Pencils by: Salvador Larroca
Colors by: Edgar Delgado
Letters by: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover by: Adi Granov
[Note: Lots of variants exist for this issue!! At least 18 by last count]
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

Welcome to the Dark Side! Literally!! A brand new on-going spotlighting the fallen Jedi whose armour reflects all that is ‘unholy’ about the Force. Bring it!!!

    Disclaimer

: I will re-state that I’m not well-versed in Star Wars lore. I’ve seen all the movies and like the characters well enough. That being said, there’s no hope in hell I could ever catch up or get into all the canon or non-canon via the various comics, novels, or cartoons. On with the show.

Cue the music!! Like last month’s STAR WARS #1, we get a feel as if we’re watching the movie as an extra chapter. The brief narration explains where things stand but this time from the Empire’s P.O.V. Quite interesting to say the least since the destruction of the Death Star is a heavy loss for the Empire and has left a power vacuum with chaos swirling about. Holy guacamole!! Vader has been ‘re-branded’ for 19 years?? I had no idea. That’s almost two decades @_@ Even this evil emissary has to answer to his superior.

The first page focuses on a structure on a double-sun planet. Lord Vader seeks an audience with Jabba the Hutt and he will not brook any interference. He slashes two guards with his lightsaber and tells an underling that he is there to speak with Jabba. A glance at the saber is enough for the minion to comply.

The Bloated One is awakened from his slumber by the sniveling sycophant who informs him of the Dark One’s arrival. Despite being bulbous, he stands his ground (or is that sits?) when he chews out (I mean gives sass) to D.V. This is followed by a two-page spread with Vader in his regal and intimidating pose retorting to Jabba by pointing out his ‘generosity’ in only disposing of two guards. Many characters cower behind Darth. I won’t pretend that I know or recognize all of them but the one that stands out for me (I’m on a roll with misguided puns) is the Jawa. It’s hard to forget or ignore those dwarf-like creatures. Extremely effective on the creepy scale. There’s also a/the(?) Boba Fett being true to form: waiting for or collecting a bounty.

After the crowd has dispersed, Vader tells the Hutt that he will return tomorrow to state the exact nature of his business. He will officially arrive to have a personal matter addressed. There is no other outcome than for Jabba to carry out his request. Jabba doesn’t seem the least bit intimidated. He boasts of the futility of employing a mind trick. D.V. tells him that the Sith do not resort to such parlor tricks. Jabba is thinking of Jedis in which Vader reminds him that he’s far too rusty to make the distinction. Vader also states that the Jedi are at a low point due to his own actions against them. He warns Jabba to tread lightly. Jabba calls Vader on exactly what he is: a blunt instrument acting on the behest of the Emperor. He seizes this opportunity to eliminate him. If Jabba was hoping to open a trapdoor, he’s had an epic fail. Jabba muses at how carefully Darth steps. Who is the brave and who is the foolish? The two stand off with that rhetorical question.

There really is no honour among thieves (or bad guys). The motley crew reappear. We all know that Vader wins this gunfight. It’s pretty neat how the lightsaber deflects and redirects the laser blasts. All goons are immediately disposed. Jabba asks the Sith Lord to reconsider. I’m not sure if Vader is insulted by Jabba calling him a Jedi or if he needs to clarify. Either way, he schools the Hutt good. Who needs mind tricks when force is the only way? Jabba is literally squirming (although you can’t really tell). I wish Vader had squeezed the life out of him. Had that been the case, the contemptible cesspool couldn’t appear in the movie sequels now could he? The terms are laid out…

What the heck? Flashback?!? Based on this next sequence, it’s easy to ascertain the ‘favour’ Vader wants of Jabba. D.V. explains in great detail the nature of his failure to Palpatine. Darth brought the Overseer from Cymoon to the Emperor. His punishment is a quick death due to his revelation of the override codes to the Rebels. Palpatine needs to address his apprentice’s shortcomings. The Empire was dealt a huge blow. Without the massive empowering Death Star, there is no intimidation which means no control which in turns leads to two decades of conquering down the drain. Vader points out that he’s not alone in the crippling. Ironically, the assumption of the potency of the Death Star led to its downfall. An arrogant belief in it was its greatest flaw. Vader knows that true power comes from the Force not some construct. Palpatine interrupts him. He equates Vader to a blunt weapon that is useful to be wielded but is incapable of becoming truly effective. In essence, the destruction of the Death Star is similar to Vader’s ‘fall’. Plans are already underway for a second model to be built. Vader will now answer to Tagge, the architect behind the DS. Tagge was also the one who knew of the Rebels’ plans.

Vader’s mission is made clear. He must speak with Jabba the Hutt to have an agent brought into the Empire. If that fails, the ominous organization will have to travel to the outer rim of the galaxy. Vader is not the type to chit-chat or talk shop. Palpatine lets him know that it is a necessary evil that all Sith must endure. Palpatine thinks it’s fitting that Vader travel to Tatooine if for no other reason than the bitter taste of nostalgia. Intrigue abounds when Palpatine greets a mystery man. Vader immediately asks if the Emperor is withholding info from him. Palpatine says that a Sith expecting easy answers is no Sith at all and that as a student, he truly hasn’t learned the dark ways.

Flashback, part deux. Vader’s thoughts harken back to his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi. When he comes across Luke, he sees the immensity of the Force within him. Luke has inherited Vader’s saber from Obi-Wan when D.V. was bested in combat nineteen years ago. The reminiscence quickly dissipates. Vader ensures obedience and is quickly dismissed.

Aboard his ship, Vader commands that he be dropped off at Tatooine and then retrieved. The captain dares tell D.V. of the deviation in the mission and that the fact that the engines will be spent. Vader asks if the crew is substandard as well as the commanding officer. The C.O. will relay the orders.

Flash-forward: the day after meeting Jabba — Vader lures J.H.’s best bounty hunters: Boba Fett and a Wookie (obviously not Chewie). He wants the two to bring back Luke Skywalker alive. Boba inquires about the Black Krrsantan. (I don’t know who/what that is). The soldiers-of-fortune have another mission: to retrieve the Emperor’s new agent. The Sith Lord wants to know what secrets that individual holds. Failure is not an option. B.F. avers that he would only fail if he were paid to do so. Vader concludes by expressing his weariness of being on Tatooine. He already feels like he’s been there too long since he spoke with the Hutt. He sure had time to kill (rather, Tusken Raiders). Time to really let the bad times roll.

Any great writer should be versatile and Kieron Gillen definitely fits the bill. He’s gone from phenomenal work at Image (Phonogram) to lauded stints on Journey into Mystery and Young Avengers. He comfortably gets into Darth Vader’s armor. He effortlessly depicts the Dark Lord as the villain he truly is. There’s no possibility nor need for redemption. D.V. wants power — absolutely. Nothing else matters. I find it interesting that the rebellion occurring isn’t just on the side of angels. D.V. is definitely defying, conspiring, and planning his ascension to the Empire. Honor is a foreign word and an unheard concept. It’s so simple that it’s brilliant. Bravo, Mr. Gillen!!

Salvador Larroca could not draw a better Darth. The man is eerie and menacing despite the monochromatic motif. The body language conveys everything that the lack of facial expressions cannot. This is a man not to be trifled with. He has a dominant presence and it shows. The use of two 2-page spreads really emphasize this. In the one scene, D.V. is surrounded but easily stands out. In the other, he stands alone, triumphant. Larroca’s depiction of Jabba is dead-on. The crime lord is grotesque not only in appearance but in personality. I actually shiver looking at him and hear him slithering about. All the other characters resemble their original cinematic counterparts.

Is there a running joke/gag with how others face Jabba? On page 4, panel 2 it looks like the minion’s hand is in prime position to pick Jabba’s nose. Gross!! The same goes for page 8, panel 2. Vader’s index finger seems to be ready for insertion into the Hutt’s right nostril. Yuck!

Edgar Delgado is paired perfectly with Mr. Larroca’s work. The filling out of Vader’s armour is simple elegance. Black is already one of my fave colours. However, I will blatantly point out that black is the new back to black!! I congratulate this man on the fine detail of Jabba’s rippling features. Never has a creature of any sort looked more disgusting.

Joe Caramagna deserves a round of applause for producing the title card as well as the recap and the minor narrative boxes. One little criticism/disappointment: I wish that Vader’s speech had be done in bold at all times with a thicker word bubble. That way we could all imagine his heavy-breathing metallic voice.

Die-hard fans are treated to a second issue in two weeks’ time!! Cringe and comply!

I give this book a 16.5 out of 19 (for the years that Vader has been around) which ends up being 86.8%.

You Know the Power of the Dark Side

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