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Star Wars: Darth Vader #21 Review

Darth Vader must fight against his demons and new ones.

It’s not a great time to be Darth Vader in the eponymous Marvel series. He’s angry, his just got a gift that reminds him of his ex-girlfriend, and he’s ready to strangle the Emperor to death. Oh, wait, that’s every day for Darth Vader. In this latest issue we learn a bit more about why he wants to own Mustafar.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

DARTH VADER returns to the place of his birth as he seeks the path to his destiny. Echoes from the past reach out to him — both from his own, and from the dark history of the SITH.

Why does this matter?

Writer Charles Soule has been breathing new life into the Darth Vader character; he never strays from his evil, but he’s also showing the human (what’s left of him anyway) underneath the mask. In this latest arc we learn Vader is ever more motivated to turn up the juice when it comes to his anger. Also, we learn new details about a dark Sith-like character that’s brand new.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Trippy. Credit: Marvel Comics

This issue does a great job flashing back to Darth Vader’s conversation with the Emperor while cutting back to the events that lead him to Mustafar. To add creepy vibes to that structure, Soule opens the issue with Vader reflecting on the little boy that he was on the ship he’s currently riding on. This is the same ship that Padme rescued Anakin from Tatooine on, and the visuals by Giuseppe Camuncoli (layouts) and Daniele Orlandini (Finishes) are haunting. This sets a good tone for the issue since Darth Vader is literally living his nightmare of going back to the planet where everything went wrong for him.

The issue introduces two key characters. The first is the Emperor’s favorite architect (really) who will be helping Vader build a temple (or castle if you want to call it that) on Mustafar. The other is something very dark and disturbing. So dark this character is lost to history for a reason we find out here. We are three issues into this arc now, and I’m shocked Soule is introducing such cool and riveting concepts. The darkness inside the Sith is captivating, but he may have made it even more so with this reveal.

There are great moments in this issue tied to actions, which is always good for visual storytelling. The art team does a bang-up job and continues to show Vader’s emotions even though he wears a helmet. The flashbacks to Vader’s moments with the Emperor are also well done and the visual style is different enough to make out the difference between times.

Awww, you ruined his buzz! Credit: Marvel Comics

It can’t be perfect can it?

Dare I say the mystical nature of the narrative is getting too far away from the Force? It’s too early to tell, but Soule is playing around with the evils of the Sith in a way that is downright dangerous. I surely hope he doesn’t screw it up, but given how good this series has been I highly doubt it.

Is it good?

A great issue that delivers on meaningfully painful Darth Vader character moments. The man is broken and this issue ties us to those broken bits with great storytelling. About as strong as visually arresting comic book storytelling can get.

Darth Vader #21
Is it good?
A strong third issue in the arc delivers on creepy vibes. The man is broken and this issue ties us to those broken bits with great storytelling. About as strong as visually arresting comic book storytelling can get.
Great visual storytelling afoot
Soule introduces a new kind of evil and I'm loving it
The narrative is playing around with dark forces BEYOND the Force and that's dangerous!

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