In Review: Darth Vader #12

An outstanding conclusion that wraps up all the plot threads, while teasing the next.

The cover: The Sith Lord raises his lightsaber high to deflect an energy bolt from an unseen foe. On either side of him stormtroopers proceed forward, but not as easily as Vader. In the far background three TIE Fighters scream forward to take out the foes who would dare fire upon their leader. Nice change of pace from artist Salvador Larroca and colorist Edgar Delgado, showing the Dark Lord in action. I like how Vader’s blade covers part of his logo, with the bolt he’s deflecting streaking across it. Overall grade: A

The story: Vader and Thanoth have cornered Doctor Aphra within a cosmic cloud, but can’t enter it as their sensors won’t work. Thanoth relishes the chance to finally catch this thief that stole Imperial credits. “…I’m confident we’ll be able to bring her to Imperial justice…and perhaps even her patron.” This is wonderful dramatic irony from writer Kieron Gillen, since readers know that Vader is the woman’s patron. Vader himself will be found out, and at the Emperor’s mercy, unless he can think of way to save Aphra from capture without alerting Thanoth. He proposes something to Thanoth and the man takes the bait. How Vader saves the doctor and himself is excellent. The story then moves to the Thanteen Substrata, Anthan 1, where the Plasma Devils, Rebel fighters, are hiding. A spectacular battle breaks out with Page 9 – 11 being simply amazing. There have been Jedi and Sith throughout the franchise’s history doing major stunts, but Vader hasn’t really done anything equitable, until now. The scene with Tagge is also fantastic, and the climax with Aphra excellent. The final page teases the next story arc, “Vader Down”, and this has me hyped for it. Gillen ends this major story arc in sensational fashion and I’m looking forward to more. Overall grade: A

The art: Salvador Larroca is also amazing on this book. The opening page contains a fantastic shot of the Imperial forces outside the cloud and then transitions back and forth between the interiors of Vader and Aphra’s ships. Pages 3 and 4 are smartly laid out so that they mimic a cinematic tone as the focus is thrown from the immovable Vader to the emotional Thanoth. The scenes where Vader goes after the Plasma Devils are everything one would want with the Sith Lord attacking a base, with one fighter getting some special attention. As outstanding as all the action is, I was floored by the amount of rubble behind Vader. In the panel that’s a partial double-page splash, Vader looks great, as does his weapon, but the rock work behind him really makes the entire panel sing. Vader’s final scene with Aphra is also outstanding, with black being used flawlessly to emphasize the setting and the dark nature of their unique relationship. The character that appears on the final page is not one of my favorites, but Larroca makes this individual look so good, I’d be more than willing to see him reappear if Larroca is drawing him. Overall grade: A

The colors: It’s impossible for anyone to dislike Edgar Delgado’s work on this book after looking at the first page: the clouds are beautiful and set an excellent contrast to the darkness of space and the metal Imperial fleet that lies outside of it. The first panel on Page 2 has some strong work with the addition of electrical bursts. The coloring on Thanoth makes him seem like a photographically inserted character, especially with that wonderful shine at the top of his bald head. The page that focuses on the Plasma Devils is stunning in oranges. And the floor, yes — that’s right, the floor, of Tagge’s ship has some exceptional reflective work on them. Delgado makes this book shine. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna provides dialogue, droid speak, sounds, a scene setting, and a scream of surprise. I’m not happy that Vader’s mechanically enhanced voice is the same font as normal humans, and I’m still not liking the thin linework on the dialogue. However, the droid dialogue is good, as is the one scream. Overall grade: B-

The final line: An outstanding conclusion that wraps up all the plot threads, while teasing the next. Recommended for all Star Wars fans. Overall grade: A

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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