Darth Vader is a general commanding an army against ore barons and it’s a brand new role we haven’t really seen from him yet. That’s exciting particularly because maybe there’s a reason we haven’t—maybe some fighters can’t lead? Let’s crack this open and answer the question, is it good?
Darth Vader #18 (Marvel Comics)
With his trusty evil robot versions of R2-D2 and C-3PO named Bee Tee and 0-0-0, Vader is attempting to stay in the Emperor’s good graces and not fail him. At the same time the Emperor’s tech-centric Sith (who don’t actually connect with the Dark Side) are ever the untrustworthy lot. Plus the queen of the planet, Shu-Torun, isn’t a huge fan of Darth Vader either.
Why does this book matter?
Kieron Gillen has written quite a story arc here with a lot of threats and character dynamics to play off Darth Vader’s never cheery persona. Meanwhile Salvador Larroca continues to draw Darth Vader in epic fashion, always looking formidable, but also infusing quite a bit of emotion by only using shadows and head tilts.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Gillen proves once again Bee Tee and 0-0-0’s evil knows no bounds. The issue opens with them tossing a body into a lake of lava and as they peer into the hot drink they reflect on the crispy and wonderful smell. These characters are intriguing in part because we’re so used to robots of this nature to be friends of humans and instead these ones love to kill. Another key scene later in the issue makes me wonder if Gillen is planning something big for these characters and that’s exciting.
Most of this issue is Darth Vader going to war and it’s fun to see him as the master tactician of the battle. He’s more in line with the screaming samurai rushing with blade at the ready into battle, but really is that good tactics? We find out in this issue and once again Gillen (and Aaron too) prove it’s a lot of fun to see Darth Vader making mistakes and failing.
Gillen continues to flesh out the queen character, and there’s a surprise in store for readers who keep with this story. Gillen shows he has a great handle on building character dynamics towards a climactic finish that you’ll want to read. There are a few surprises in this issue and the queen is one of them which makes for entertaining reading.
Larroca continues to draw a mean Darth Vader. Don’t believe me? Go to the last page, soak it in and try not to feel awe! This final sequence sets up a major cliffhanger but also sets up the odds and stakes in play due to a great full page image of the surroundings. How will the character get out of this one? It’s plain to see it’s not going to be easy.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Like in previous issues, Larocca’s art doesn’t always work, due to rather blank and uninteresting backgrounds and settings. The blank backgrounds make the characters pop, and characters are Larocca’s strength, but it pulls you out of the narrative when panels look unfinished. There are cases where Stormtroopers’ heads look squashed or Vader’s neck and body are awkwardly thin that give you the impression this was rushed and again takes you out of the narrative.
Who’s the boss? “I’m the boss!”
Is It Good?
Dramatic tension abounds in this well told and well paced story!