Darth Vader #4 Spoilers & Revuew
Kieron Gillen, Writer
Salvador Barroca, Artist
Edgar Delgado, Colorist
I actually felt a bit guilty after reviewing Darth Vader last month. In its short-run so far, the comic set an extremely high bar of excellence, and Issue 3 felt just a bit off to me. It was good, but just not up to the standards of the previous entries. I felt maybe I was expecting too much from Kieron Gillen following two slam-dunk issues.
So, how will Darth Vader #4 stack up? Let’s check it out:
The latest chapter brings Vader and his newfound associates to the planet Geonosis.
Background note on Geonosis: It’s the desert-like planet from Attack of the Clones, where Obi-Wan, Anakin, Padme and others were captured by Count Dooku and forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena. It’s also where the Clone troopers made their first appearance, and where Anakin loses his hand.
Back to the present, Vader has returned to Geonosis in search of a supposed battle-droid factory. Still on the outs with Papeltine, the Dark Lord of the Sith wants to acquire a formidable army in order to secure a better position within the Empire.
Despite the urgency of his mission, we see a glimpse of Vader’s thoughts as he remembers embracing Padme years ago on Geonosis. This provides yet another never before seen aspect of Vader: sentimentally. As somebody who never paid much attention to Star Wars’ vast Expanded Universe materials, I always wondered whether Vader ever reflected on his life as Anakin Skywalker. Now, there’s confirmation that he does, which adds a bit of humanity to the guy. Based on Return of the Jedi, we know it’s there, but up until that point, Vader was an evil force-choking machine.
Of course, this is Darth Vader, and he does not indulge in the sharing of feelings. Not even with the charming Doctor Aphra.
Aphra– She might have been the biggest factor in my slight disappointment with the previous issue. It was like Gillen (or Marvel/Disney) mandated the awkward forcing of an overly sassy female sidekick into the story. In this issue, Aphra’s been toned down to a more realistic character. She’s still glib, but far more respectful of Vader this time out. Based on this issue alone, I could very well envision an entertaining Aphra solo comic series.
Speaking of new characters, Vader’s new droids Triple-Zero (000) and BT continue to steal the show in each of their panels. Triple-Zero might even qualify as the true breakout character in this series. He’s both quite humorous, while also being horribly disturbing. I think he just might give little kids nightmares for weeks if he ever made it to live-action movies. Hell, even on the comic page he gives me the creeps (in a good way). I mean, I can’t help but hear him speak of the pleasures of torturing people in a fussy, British, C3P0 voice.
Back to the story . . . Vader and his crew eventually find the battle-droid factory, where their encounter with its leader provides a pretty interesting plot in itself. Following a battle involving plenty of lightsabre slashing and force powers, Vader secures the machinery needed to create his droid army. Also, not 100% sure, but it appears he uses Padme’s ship from the Prequels as his own now.
Once Vader has what he needs, an interesting scene takes place between him and Aphra. Aware that evil minions generally end up dead, she accepts whatever fate her employer has in store, to include execution. Again, Darth Vader shows some surprising personality in not only sparing Aphra, but sort-of complimenting her in a scary Dark Lord of the Sith way. Recall in Issue 2, Vader didn’t hesitate to destroy a droid he was quite pleased with, and I based on past events, human life means next to nothing to him.
After dispensing some mercy, one of Vader’s bounty hunters (not Boba Fett) delivers the Emperor’s associate from Issue 1. Despite the man’s bravado, Triple-Zero extracts all his secrets, to include what mission the Emperor tasked him with, and it’s a doozy in that it’s related to finding a replacement(s) for Darth Vader.
I feel like I’m gushing a bit much on the Darth Vader series, but anyway . . . this issue was my favorite to date. The supporting characters fit in perfectly, especially Doctor Aprha. I find her fascinating as she doesn’t seem horribly evil, yet she’s all-in on Vader’s quest. She’s not a bullied innocent, mindless lackey or mercenary, but an actual sincere supporter.
The story itself is moving at just the right speed, with the next issue likely to be all the more interesting if we get to meet Vader’s rumored replacements.
I’m also digging the connections Darth Vader and Princess Leia’s comic are making to important Prequel locations/events. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t hate Episodes I-III, I’m just rather “meh” to them. Tying glimpses of Anakin Skywalker in Geonosis with present day Darth Vader adds a bit more significance to those movies though.
Salvador Larroca continues to nail the artwork. Fantastic stuff, and Aphra looked more consistent this time out too. Finally, if I was a younger nerd, I’d so want the Larroca’s variant cover on my bedroom wall:
Buy Darth Vader.
Tags: Darth Vader, kieron gillen, Marvel, Star Wars