In Review: Darth Vader #13

A good second installment, with the story going off into unexpected directions.

The cover: A gigantic bust of Darth Vader is in the top half of this cover by Mark Brooks. His right hand appears to reach out for the Rebel fighters, among them the Millennium Falcon, trying to escape his deadly touch. Nice symbolic cover by Brooks hits all the right marks, but the elements are generic and would work on any issue of this title. It’s good, but I expect something a little more slanted toward “Vader Down”, since that’s the storyline that been pushed across all Star Wars comics. Overall grade: B+

The story: Part II of “Vader Down”, crafted by Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen, written by the latter, begins with Vader surrounded by several Rebels, their guns drawn on the Sith. One man yells at Vader to surrender and the Sith Lord replies, “Very well…Lower your weapons. You will not be harmed,” and then Vader uses the Force to have one man’s grenades go off. The debris cloud is so great, no one can see what’s going on. A tank fires at Vader, but he deflects the blast back at the vehicle. The fighting between Vader and the Rebels is interrupted by three other storylines: Han and Leia’s discussion over finding Luke, Luke’s tromping around in the wastelands far from Vader, and Doctor Aphra’s attempt to rescue Vader. Gillen nicely cuts back and forth among these stories and it’s necessary; if the book focused only on Vader’s slaughter of the Rebels that would get boring very quickly. There are some good surprises in this issue, such as Leia’s focus and what happens to Luke on the final four pages, with the final lines on the last page awesome. This is a fun story that’s blowing up quite well. Overall grade: A

The art: Salvador Larroca is a stunning artist. His visuals of iconic characters (Vader, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, the droids) are flawless. Highlights include Vader on 2 and 13, Luke on 14, 16 – 18, and Leia on 6, 7, 11, and 12. His new characters are also very well done, such as Doctor Aphra and the Rebels who make fleeting appearances (Pages 3, 7, 9, 10, and 15). There are also some excellent crowd work done with the opening scene: Larroca is not doing copy and paste with his characters, every one of the men on Page 2 are unique and posed differently from their brothers, making this look so much more realistic. With so much action in the book, Larroca must also capture the different types of motion that occur within this book, and I’m happy to see that’s it not just lightsaber swinging; there’s some nice work on Pages 3, 13, and 19. There’s also some good vehicle work done on this issue, with the Falcon, being used primarily as background, looking strong. This book looks great. Overall grade: A

The colors: There are so many different actions, locations, and characters in this book that Edgar Delgado gets to create a feast of colors for the reader. The book opens in a sandy desert terrain, and has the appropriate browns and tans, but once the explosions begin the colors go orange and red. Delgado certainly makes the imagery pop with his bright colors during Vader’s encounters with the troops. However, at the Rebel base the colors are much more passive, as befits this group of freedom fighters. Aboard the cramped quarters of Aphra’s ship, holograms and readouts cast lights onto her and her droid companions. In fact, coloring is a key plot point for the final three pages, and without Delgado’s contributions the scene wouldn’t make sense. Overall grade: A+

The letters: I’m still struggling with VC’s Joe Caramagna’s lettering on this story. The font is too thin for Vader, making him look as strong as all other speakers, which he isn’t — he’s stronger. However, Vader doesn’t speak too much in this issue, so I wasn’t taken out too much by the dialogue. Caramagna also contributes yells, sounds, and droid speech. His sounds are outstanding, and I wish that he was allowed to include more of them, especially when Vader uses his lightsaber. Overall grade: C+

The final line: A good second installment, with the story going off into unexpected directions. If only the lettering were stronger. Overall grade: B+

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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