The second Star Wars series out of Marvel is Darth Vader, which could mean many things. Do they want to explore the evil of the Empire? The humanity of Anakin? The complexity of Vader discovering Luke is his son? Or all of the above? Meh, those are questions for another time, but is it good?
Darth Vader #1 (Marvel Comics)
The issue opens with Vader paying a visit to Jabba the Hutt. If you don’t get all tingly from the scene very reminiscent of Luke entering Jabba’s lair from Return of the Jedi you’re not trying hard enough. It’s a great little nod to a scene that’ll be taking place in the comics many years later, as this issue takes place between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. More specifically it’s right after Star Wars #2 which is important to note as it’s clear Marvel is building all their comics around a single timeline. That makes things driven like an event which is not how Dark Horse was doing it with their multiple timelines and free-for-all approach. A clever choice since the books can now strengthen each other rather than float around and have no relation.
A lot of familiar faces!
Writer Kieron Gillen writes a pretty good first issue for fans of the characters. I say this because if you haven’t seen any of the films you’ll be at a loss as to who certain characters are or why you should care. He does however recap the important story beats found in the first two issues of Star Wars as well as an important moment for Vader from A New Hope, but ultimately, this is for the fans.
The story is a decent one, although it does utilize a flashback to begin which is sometimes a sign that the story is a bit light. Frankly it is a light read, as the meat of the issue serves a compelling conversation between the Emperor and Vader while the rest is recap and an action sequence. Considering the price is five dollars and you’re really only getting 28 pages of story (because four pages are used to display a title and the scrolling credit recap) it’s not the longest or best reads. Some of you will be positively giddy to read the last few pages as a fan favorite shows up, along with an unknown badass looking Wookiee.
Uh oh. That’s as bad as telling a girl she’s not “that fat.”
There are long stretches of little to no dialogue, so the art is incredibly important to carry this story. Artist Salvador Larroca does a bang-up job with the action sequence and flashback. Vader looks spectacular in all his shiny glory too, and I’d be remiss not to mention good he is at drawing Wookiee’s. The Emperor sequence is a bit of a letdown however; due to the tighter layout, it feels a bit undercooked. There are a few panels of Emperor Palpatine that are goofy and odd, but there are a few that are great and incredibly evil looking. This is due in part to Larroca’s strength being empty space. His style requires this or things get compacted and awkward.
The Emperor is sounding a little like his daddy.
Is It Good?
A good first issue that establishes its purpose but takes a lot of pages and money to do so and never offers anything new about the title character.