Comic Book Review: Darth Vader [2017] by Bastien L.

Official universe

If the Star Wars galaxy has a host of characters as cool as they are iconic, it seems none come close to dark Vader which has had a number of Expanded Universe stories, including a regular comic series in 2015.

Back in 2012 and the takeover of Lucasfilm (hence from the Star Wars license) by disney and the decision to create a new expanded universe by wiping out the old one. The other effect was that comic stories left the publisher Dark horse to return home Marvel (another property of disney) which started new series in 2015. Among these many projects were miniseries, but also two regular series to make the connection between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back for the heroes of the films (in the soberly titled series Star wars) and to the great evil of the Darth Vader series. This series spanned between 2015 and 2016 and had 25 episodes (or issues) with British screenwriter Kieron Gillen at the helm. After starting with IMagic comics in the late 2000s he made his way to Marvel dealing with main series or derivative licenses such as X-Men, Thor and The Avengers. He collaborated with the Spaniard Salvador Larroca on the drawings, also firmly in the Maison des Idées with works on Ghost Rider, X-Men or Iron Man… As for its French publication, the Darth Vader series knew four different shops at Panini comics : in the kiosk Star wars then in 4 volumes then combined in two so-called “Deluxe” volumes and finally completely in a block of more than 700 pages entitled Darth Vader Absolutely. It is the latter which is criticized here knowing that it also includes the crossover between the series Star wars (here written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Mike Deodato Jr) and Darth Vader also published in a single volume with us under the name Vader Abbatu.

The series takes place shortly after A New Hope, when the Empire has just suffered a crushing defeat following the rebels’ explosion of the Death Star. A disgraceful defeat dark Vader in the eyes of his masterEmperor Palpatine. Supreme annoyance, Vader is now under orders from Grand Admiral Tagge (the one that Vader chokes in Episode IV) and a mysterious man appears to be approaching the Emperor. Darth Vader will therefore have to carry out missions to fight organized crime and the rebels under the orders of Tagge, while having a supervisor in his hands. However, Vader has other plans and needs the help of the criminal archaeologist Doctor Aphra to dig up his private army, starting with two murderous droids Triple-0 and BT-1 (types of evil counterparts to C3-PO and R2-D2). Thanks to Aphra, he will discover the scientist’s existence Cycle to have freed himself from bioethics to create warriors/strategists capable of replacing Vader and whom the Emperor will put into competition. As he works to regain his master’s trust by keeping his life safe, Vader will also launch bounty hunters in pursuit of the pilot who blew up the Death Star because he felt its power in the Force. If Vader learns of the existence of luke skywalkerit could put a lot of things into perspective…

The series is divided into four main arcs (plus crossover) obviously with a long-term plot, namely the recording of dark Vader to remain number 2 in the Empire via its more or less distant confrontation with Cycle and his creations. A story that is ultimately very effective and very pleasant to follow, where entertainment is king through many adventures and other secondary and tertiary characters that are very often successful. Kieron Gillen does justice to Vader with this character in the form of an extremely ruthless black monolith, violent when necessary, with great faith in the dark side, while knowing very well how to use sarcasm. The character thus remains true to the original trilogy, with Gillen partially questioning his identity as what remains of his humanity through his research as discoveries regarding Luke Skywalker. The other great strength of Kieron Gillen is creating really excellent secondary characters like the fearless and Machiavellian Doctor Aphra (a kind of Indiana Jones transfer but with questionable morals) often accompanied by Triple-0 and LV, rather crazy bloodthirsty droids. We also remember Cylo and his abominations as the Pragmatic Queen triangle of Shu-Torun where Vader will have to wage a civil war in the 3rd arc.

The story imposes its space-opera atmosphere brilliantly because the whole is very rhythmic, where we offset the silent aspect of Waders of the very good, more talkative supporting characters presented above. We have the right to visit Tattoo Like on Geonosis in iconic places in the saga necessarily refer to the past of Anakin/Vador. But we also discover some landmarks for bandits, on which we have a right of passage Naboo like a long bow on Shu-Toruna mining planet where lava is ubiquitous, which proves quite interesting with its My Dukes goes up against the monarchy. The second place is important Vrogas Vaslocation of crossover Vader killed co-written by Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen. A long-term confrontation like Vader, Aphra, LV and Triple-0 finds himself stranded on the planet facing the rebels if He, Leia, Luke, chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO. Not everyone gets along, but it offers beautiful dynamics with a well-paced story where each main character has their moment of glory. The only criticism that can be made of this series’ story comes from the delusions Cycle which rages from a fleet of space whales transformed into vessels like his creations that are still sometimes quite grotesque. We can also see that the characterizations of the supporting characters work well at first glance, but that they still lack convincing development.

Regarding the drawings, Salvador Larroca delivers a job that is above all correct. The Spanish designer known for his excellent work rate does not always seem to force his talent. He has a real sense of staging, knows very well how to introduce the characters and offers a very dynamic breakdown. The meeting between Waders and Jabba is a very good example. We also feel very comfortable with the scenes in the room, where his confrontations are often very beautiful. We also appreciate his work with the different atmospheres of the planets visited, allowing us to travel in the Star Wars galaxy. The Spaniard also offers us quite impressive full pages and double pages, where we feel a greater use. Unfortunately, he fails to make the creations Cycle (character inspired by his own face) who often seems grotesque and out of step with the rest of the universe. The real problem comes from the fact that the faces of the human characters are clearly Larroca’s weak point. They sometimes change too much from one box to another and it’s hard to keep them. Also, when he draws characters from movies, he looks too much for similarities without really succeeding, which makes for a slightly annoying side. Finally, the action scenes are a bit weak and it’s hard to feel the power of Vader despite some good ideas every now and then. In short, the drawings won’t really stay in our memory and we get more pleasure from reading these Vader adventures than watching them… Vader killed, it’s Mike Deodato Jr drawing half of it, which turns out to be much more satisfying, thus offering a little breath of fresh air. As for the coloring of the whole thing, very classic and effective.

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