In Review: Darth Vader #18

A typical issue of Darth Vader: great visuals with an okay story.

The cover: Using the setting from the iconic battle between Luke and the Sith Lord on Cloud City, Vader looks down, maddened that his prey has eluded him again. Four stormtroopers appear from behind the title character should he have need for cannon fodder. Another outstanding cover by Mark Brooks. The troopers look like they’re arriving from heaven with the lighting effect that’s done behind them. Overall grade: A

The story: The first page is an odd introduction to this third installment of the “The Shu-Torun War” by Kieron Gillen. Two familiar individuals are disposing of a body and making commentary. This page is only necessary to set up the dialogue on Page 14, yet this possible plot line is shut down quickly; unless is Gillen is gearing up for this character, who’s making a proposal, to set his plans in motion in a future issue. Hmmm…With the turn of a page the story of stopping the rebellious barons on Shu-Torun resumes. Cylo is now assisting (or is he?) Vader and Queen Trios. Vader, accompanied by two students of Cylo and several troopers, is in a bore vehicle that is making its way to the final battle. The vehicle suddenly veers off course and ends up in an unwelcome area. A major battle occurs, but not the one that was expected. There are some epic sequences in this issue, with some fun characters moments, with Gillen continuing to show that he is an absolute master at giving Vader the perfect line for every moment. There’s a very interesting scene involving the Queen, who shows she has become the ruler that the Empire has shaped her to be. Page 14 continue the evolution of another character, though I’m surprised Vader just didn’t kill the character at that moment: I’m surprised that anyone is allowed to live for interrupting him. The cliffhanger of the book has been building for several issues, and having these characters reappear in this book only signaled their impending doom, which will undoubtedly occur next issue. The character moments are good, but the larger story is just a backdrop for these scenes to occur. Overall grade: B+

The art: Salvador Larroca is an incredible artist. He often employs similarly sized horizontal panels on a page, giving the book an instant cinematic flavor. And by moving the point of view constantly, this book seems to be captured film frames; for example, the first page is a slickly executed page where there isn’t much action occurring, but the way in which Larroca shows this pair disposing of a body is visually exciting. Pages 2 and 3 have a partial double-paged spread that has a spectacular “Wow!” moment has the vehicles that Vader and his allies are in appear. Vader is first shown in the final panel on Page 3, but it is on 4 that he is clearly shown and the way in which Larroca has set up the first panel on the page there can be no question who is in charge of this mission; it’s that good/cool/awesome. Throughout the issue there are several cinematic moments (the bottom of Page 7, the second panel on 8, the last two on 9, and all of 16 and 17) and they give this book a constant epic feeling. The final three pages will be the ones that fans will remember the most as they serve as the precursors to the battle that will start Issue #19. Larroca never fails to deliver his best. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Also creating beautiful work is colorist Edgar Delgado. The opening page is gorgeous to look at with spectacular yellows, oranges, and light roses: the page seems as though it could burst into flame at any moment because of these colors. No cool colors appear until the first image at the bottom of 3, which shifts the book tonally from oranges and yellows to soft blues and violets: the presence of Vader seems to cool the planet’s temperature immediately. Delgado also has a cinematic feel to his work due to his ability to create lighting effects one would expect of film. This is on display whenever a blaster is fired or when some “things” are activated on 9. The strong lighting effects he places behind characters give a very realistic feeling to the book, such as when Trios has her important scene. I can’t imagine Larroca’s work being colored by anyone but Delgado. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Scene settings, sounds, droid speak and hologram transmissions (the same font), and dialogue are created Joe Caramagna of VC. I’m pleased to see that droid dialogue is different from the sentients’ speech, though I did wish it were in a font that wasn’t the same as the one employed for hologram transmissions: they sound different in the films, so they should be differently constructed in the comics. The dialogue continues to be too svelte for the characters, rendering their speech wispy, and that’s unbecoming of a Sith. Overall grade: B

The final line: A typical issue of Darth Vader: great visuals with an okay story. I am looking forward to next issue’s erasure of a pair of characters who weren’t great to begin with. 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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