Darth Vader #1 (Marvel Comics)
From the moment it was announced, I was very interested in Marvel’s Darth Vader series. Thankfully the Keiron Gillen and Salvador Larocca series not only met my expectations, it exceeded them. Darth Vader is one badass comic, and filled with some pretty memorable moments.
Taking place at the same time as the Jason Aaron and John Cassaday Star Wars series, Vader offers us a glimpse into the mind of the Dark Lord of the Sith. Finally we have a Darth Vader book that actually stars Darth Vader and is from his perspective, something that many of the Dark Horse books that “starred” the Dark Lord of the Sith failed to do. The Empire is reeling from the loss of the Death Star, and many, including the Emperor, put the blame on Darth Vader. And since he’s allowed the rebels to escape him again, Vader is really feeling the pressure to track down the man responsible for destroying the Death Star, which brings him to Tatooine to speak with a certain crime lord.
Darth Vader is very much a companion series to the main Marvel Star Wars title. While you can read Vader without reading Star Wars, you’d be better off reading both series (although this issue does spoil the events of Star Wars #3, a book that isn’t even out yet). Seeing events from Vader and the Empire’s perspective is fascinating, a feat that’s my impressive by writer Keiron Gillen’s lack of an inner monologue for Vader. Much of the Vader’s actions are portrayed through his movements and visual cues, which allows us inside the Dark Lord’s mind but still keeps a bit of mystery to the character.
Speaking of Gillen, this man totally gets Darth Vader. Much like Jason Aaron, Gillen gives Vader some supremely badass moments, including an incredible confrontation with Jabba The Hutt that takes up a large portion of the issue. There’s even room for a callback to the Prequel trilogy that’s more entertaining and powerful than the original moment it refers to.
On the art side of things, Salvador Larocca does a pretty excellent job. Drawing a Star Wars book is no easy task, and it’s made even harder when you have to continually draw Vader. However, Larocca’s Vader is actually one of the best looking ones I’ve seen, which makes it a little strange when his regular character faces look a little weird.
With two series under their belts, Marvel has proven that they know what they’re doing with the Star Wars brand. Darth Vader not only continues where Marvel succeeded with Star Wars, but expands on it. If you liked Star Wars, then there’s no way you should let this pass you by.