After a somewhat weaker (but still enjoyable) issue last month, the story of CT-5539/Hock comes to a conclusion in the final issue of the mini-series. Is it good?
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #5
After receiving a brutal beat down from his genetic brother in arms, Hock manages to defeat him (a bit too easily) and rejoins the fight with Vader. Despite the showdown that we’d all been waiting for, this reunion with the Dark Lord is where the real meat of the issue is to be found.
Vader does his typical Vader thing, hacking and slashing his way through the Separatist forces. It doesn’t seem like anything new or jarring… until he shows himself capable of killing children as well. Not Jedi children, mind you, but regular, bewildered children with absolutely no way to defend themselves.
Pictured: Not a likely candidate to be on the cover of another Darth Vader and Son book.
The scene in Revenge of the Sith where Anakin killed all the younglings in the temple was hard, but something about a faceless force of evil like Vader cutting down normal human child is just as (if not more) brutal.
Thankfully, writer Tim Siedell and artist Gabriel Guzman leave the actual bloodshed VERY strongly implied, moving on to yet even more soul crushing goodness. This time, Vader mercilessly slaughters the wounded fighters in the infirmary, their final act being to refuse kneeling before the Hand of the Emperor.
Hock decides he’s had enough, finally discovering the human aspect of his DNA beyond simple anger and pride. He is not heroic, however, choosing to allow Vader to continue killing his defenseless victims while walking away from the battlefield.
The issue’s final scene is both chilling and hopeful, showing us a man who is doing all he can with what little future he has left… and trying very hard not to dwell on his terrible past.
Is It Good?
In most other tales about the Darth Vader, his ruthlessness is portrayed through cunning and fighting ability. Here, however, it’s shown through his willingness to slaughter those who can barely stand up for themselves. That aspect of Vader’s legend is always discussed and referenced, but rarely do we get such a well-drawn and powerful portrait of it taking place.
Hock’s decision to leave the battlefield is also believable. Despite his ruthlessness, he was always honorable. What he saw that day on Ostor, however, was anything but that. Even the odd decision for him not to kill the resistance’s leaders in the last issue was used to great effect here; his guilt over the deaths of those who’d shown him mercy was both palpable and heart breaking.
“That’s kind of not cool, boss…”
The only issue with this one was the fight between Hock and the other side of his genetic coin. It had been built up quite a bit, but ended up being a bit of a letdown. Fortunately, that aspect of the plot didn’t hurt the rest of the story.
After a slight hiccup last month, Siedell and Guzman righted the ship to cement this as one of the greatest Darth Vader stories ever told. This is Vader in the process of building his fearsome reputation… and we get to come along for the wonderfully written, beautifully drawn ride.