In Review: Darth Vader #11

A super start to a new story, with four new characters causing trouble for the Sith Lord.

The covers: A twosome to challenge your tracking abilities. The Regular cover is by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Francesco Mattina. This features an actual scene from the book: Vader has entered a bar that is unaware of who he is and what his mission is. It’s business as usual in the establishment, people gambling and drinking, while some singers perform on stage. The Lord of the Sith has ignited his lightsaber and that foreshadows danger for everyone. The stoic figure of Vader is a nice counterpoint to all the action behind him. The visuals are good, with the background really detailed, and the colors have that sleazy neon bar quality.  A bust shot of General Solo from The Last Jedi is the focus on the Galactic Icons Variant by Rod Reis. She stares at the reader with a great sense of weight and determination. Behind her is a faded icon of the Rebellion. This is fantastic. Overall grades: Both A

The story: This is a great premise for a story. In the Colonies Region on Cabarria, Darth Vader and the Ninth Sister of the Inquisitors are checking a lead on a individual that was in a bar that was spotted with a lightsaber. Ninth Sister doesn’t believe this will turn up anything, but she tells Vader she knows he’s “eager. You want to fight another Jedi. Bad.” Vader tires of their conversation and orders her to wait outside and do nothing unless he orders it. Once alone, Ninth Sister says to herself, “Poor sadistic monster, doesn’t know himself at all. Dying to fight. Diying to die.” Charles Soule has the Sith enter the busy establishment and states simply to throng, “Tell me about the Jedi.” He gets a reaction one would receive after killing someone in a cantina on Tatooine. That’s when a trio of other characters are introduced. This trio is there for the same reasons as Vader and soon it becomes a fight as to who has the right to capture the supposed Jedi. The battle inside the bar is fantastic, capturing the feel of a shootout in a saloon in the wild West. Page 7 has a great “Whoa” moment. The fight then goes outside, involving a high speed chase that ends dramatically. The last three pages are very surprising due to each side’s decisions, with the conclusion having a scream worthy cliffhanger. Lots of action and some solid teases of dangers to come, though if Vader is involved, it won’t end well for any other characters involved. Overall grade: A

The art: Giuseppe Camuncoli provides pencils and Daniele Orlandini the inks on this beautiful looking book. The design of the bar is really neat, looking externally like a truck stop where several lanes of highway cross, though the highway is floating in the sky. The interior of the establishment is interesting because it’s more than one story and Soule has the action happening on multiple levels, allowing this artistic team to create some neat visuals. Before going inside, Vader has three pages with Ninth Sister. She is a monstrous horror, larger and taller than the Sith, but showing the wound of a lesson Vader has taught her. She visually seems as if her soul is light, but once alone she becomes deathly intense. 4 and 5 have two panels that spread across the pages showcasing the bar and its outstanding look. The design of the establishment is superb and the characters in it a who’s who of the familiar and the new. The reveal of a new character atop 6 is great: she looks sensational. What she does is shown with very little text and that makes the visuals incredibly intense: 1, because it’s silent, and 2, because one does not do that to Darth Vader. The final two panels on 7 is something I’ve not seen in a Star Wars comic and got a gasp from me. This is followed by a dramatic action on 8 that’s big and really, really cool looking, especially in how the title character is shown in the largest panel. Another character is introduced at the bottom of this page and it was hard for me not to yell out “Biggs!” upon seeing him. He does have a similarity to Garrick Hagon’s character, but I chalked that up to the roguish nature of this character. How this character and the other two are able to defend themselves against Vader’s Force onslaught is outstanding. Once outside, the action becomes a high speed chase, which is always a hit or miss venture in a comic book. This is a hit. Vader is riding a vehicle he’s never on and what he does is spectacular. Vader’s unmoving face is dynamite on the final three pages as information is exchanged and promises made. The final panel is the terrific way to end this issue, with that character looking amazing alone against that vista. Overall grade: A

The colors: This could have been a dark book, given the interior scenes and how this book ends, but David Curiel uses bright colors to punch up every scene. Even in ebony, Vader stands out, being the darkest thing on the page, sucking the life out of everything around him. The red visor that’s attached to Ninth Sister’s helmet gets some really cool hues: look at the change in its colors when she raises it up. The lighting highlights inside the bar keep the setting dim, but everything can still be clearly seen. The highlights on Vader’s mask make him horrific in this locale. The blues that backlight his entrance make him appear to be entering from the underworld. The red of the third panel on 7 is killer; it’s the first blast of bright colors in this issue, giving the action a ferocious feel. This panel is followed by a sound colored similarly, which is then followed by a very important item colored the same. Outstanding. Blaster shots are in a beautiful green, which are countered by a weapon that’s equally lovely in crimson. Smoke in the closing pages is especially neat in orange, black, red, and rust. Curiel is also coloring the current run of Avengers. He’s as strong on that book as he is on this. Overall grade: A 

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates scene settings, dialogue, quiet comments, transmissions, sounds, and yells. I’ve been griping about the font used for the dialogue on this series, and franchise, since its return to Marvel, and this issue really proves me correct. Look at the dialogue between Ninth Sister and Vader on the opening three pages. Is there any visual power behind their words? She’s a Dowutin, he’s a powerful Sith. Their speech visually makes them look like they have high, squeeky voices. When characters yell at one another in the bar, so that others can hear them, there’s no strength to their speech. Okay, my grousing is over. The quiet comments made by Ninth Sister and cool and the sound effects are glorious. If only the dialogue was strong as these. Overall grade: B

The final line: A super start to a new story, with four new characters causing trouble for the Sith Lord. The story is full of plenty of action and some incredibly cool moments, and the visuals are gorgeous with their details and characterizations. This series continues to be one of Star Wars’ strongest titles. Overall grade: A-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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