Darth Vader’s got a brand new boss and a brand new mission.
Darth Vader #2: Is it good?
Darth Vader #2 (Marvel Comics)
“He was the best star pilot in the galaxy and a cunning warrior.” Remember when Kenobi dropped that famous line to Luke regarding Anakin/Darth Vader in Star Wars: A New Hope? Disappointed as I was when the movies never really made good on that claim?
Darth Vader #2 won’t blow too many preconceived notions you have of Vader out of the water, but the issue does a solid in showing why our boy Vader gets the galaxy far, far away version of street cred for more than just lightsaber swinging and Force Chokes. (Issue #1 did a great job of the latter with Vader’s infiltration of Jabba the Hutt’s lair.)
The issue starts off with a space naval battle that’s looking decidedly bleak for a fleeing Imperial ship. That is, until Big Bad Vader swoops in and lays down the law in his pimped out TIE Advanced x1.
All that’s missing is the “Imperial March” and Xzbit riding shotgun.
After that it’s back on board the Star Destroyer for a mission briefing with Grand General Tagge, the new head honcho in Grand Moff Tarkin’s stead. (Wait, didn’t Tagge bite it when the Death Star blew up in the movies?) Tagge’s banter with Vader implies the role of haughty asshole we’ve come to expect from those with similar rank in the Galactic Empire, but Tagge does divulge part of his grand plan that shows he at least considers Vader a powerful ally and not just some archaic mystic or space-aged Criss Angel.
This leads to an Imperial mission that has Vader flexing both Sith skills and tactical dexterity alike. The ensuing battle features Mon Calamari (Admiral Ackbar’s species), gun-toting Sullustans and even force-field generating Droidekas, so you know it’s good.
Action aside, an underlying theme I’m glad writer Kieron Gillen touched upon in this issue: loneliness. Not in the sense that we know what Vader’s really up to during “me time” in that secret chamber of his — but for the fact that despite all Vader’s renown and might (he tops nearly everyone’s list of bad-ass villains for a reason), he’s still a pariah when you get down to it. Gillen has Vader drop lines of derision and scorn with surgical precision all throughout the issue (his exchanges with Lieutenant Oon-Ai had me crackin’), but there are none as poignant as a simple declarative at issue’s end that makes you realize both the character’s sense of glaring isolation and the endearing cleverness/diligence he takes in diverting it. When you consider the cruxes of Vader’s sacrifice for power were love and delusions of grandeur, this sense of loneliness is only deepened.
The art in Darth Vader #2 is nothing short of stellar. Salvador Larroca’s imagery is realistic and pin-point accurate and Edgar Delgado’s coloring is the perfect polish. Literally. From glowing exhaust ports on Dreadnaught Heavy Cruisers to the lines of separation on Vader’s breathing mask and jet black armor glinting beneath the burning stars — the attention to detail is amazing.
Is It Good?
Darth Vader #2 switches it up and shines the spotlight on some oft-overlooked abilities from the Sith’s impressive skillset. The issue also explores the underlying tragic aspect of Vader’s nature but never wallows or makes things too maudlin. Combined with the striking art, Marvel’s Darth Vader is a series that is worth a shot for all Star Wars fans, no matter how extensive.