Darth Vader #2
Kieron Gillen, writer
Salvador Barroca, artist
Edgar Delgado, colorist
Just a bit about continuity here: I’ve watched the original Star Wars trilogy more times than I count, but never got into the Expanded Universe material, with the exception of playing the Force Unleashed and Old Republic video games. As a result, I’m unaware of continuity outside the films and two video games, so my views will not be influenced on any material in this comic that contradicts the Expanded Universe.
Comic starts with the scrolling recap, only with the brilliant twist of writing it from the Empire’s point-of-view.
Where last issue, writer Kieron Gillen, gave us the “wow” of seeing Vader interact with iconic characters like Jabba, Fett and the Emperor; this time we find him plotting and kicking ass on his own.
For all his power and aura, the Vader we’re seeing here is in a tough spot. Even though he’s no longer on Tarkin’s leash, the Emperor has placed him under another Imperial officer’s command due to the Death Star debacle. In true Sith fashion though, Vader is hardly cowed or helpless, and he’s busy advancing his own agenda even while under an overseer’s watch.
The portrayal of this overseer, General Tagge, is one complaint I have here. Watching the General’s short scenes in “A New Hope”, he comes across as the most pragmatic and formidable of Tarkin’s subordinates. Tagge is the one and only commander who dared voice concerns over the Rebellion’s capabilities of exploiting the Death Star’s vulnerabilities. In this comic though, Tagge is portrayed as a bureaucratic buffoon, and a straw-man for Vader to eventually push aside. Hopefully, General Tagge will emerge as a more formidable opponent in upcoming issues. Ok, geeky criticism finished.
Remainder of Issue 2 is Darth Vader eliminating a band of pirates preying on Imperial weapons shipments. Vader destroys as only he can, while also showing a bit of subtlety that I wouldn’t have expected. Far from the scary blunt weapon who force chokes foes (and incompetent subordinates), this is a character capable of plotting his way back to the top, while kicking significant ass. It adds a bit of nuance to a villain who has been seared into fans’ imaginations for forty years.
I loved the first issue, and was instantly hooked. Looking back though, not a lot was going on other than Darth Vader being placed in famous settings with equally well-known characters. With Issue 2, the story really starts moving. The plot is just getting started, but there’s plenty of action and behind the scenes intrigue going down here. Also, when you have Darth Vader featured, there’s little need for a heavy reliance on famous guest-stars.
The art here is borderline fantastic. Vader looks amazing, and the red tinged panels near the end of the issue are quite impressive. At other times, things a bit cartoony for a comic like this, but it’s not overly distracting, and still looks quite good.
Great story, really good art and it’s all about Darth Vader! I’m onboard for however long Gillen, Larroca and Delgado keep this book going.
Tags: Darth Vader, kieron gillen, Marvel, Star Wars