In Review: Darth Vader #4

The first clunker of Darth Vader isn't a disaster, but just average.

The cover: A fantastic idea for a cover is undone by colors that overpower the images. Darth Vader, lightsaber held ready–with two hands, stands among a mob of slender Battle Droids. They seem to rising against him like the undead, their bodies covered in decades old dirt, as if they’ve clawed they ways out of graves. They and the background is colored in a dark, deep red. It’s so dark that the droids’ shapes and numbers are lost in teh coloring. Only Vader stands out, and he looks great, but this illustration by Adi Granov could have been so much more stronger if the droids had been more lightly colored to allow them to be more dominant. Overall grade: B-

The story: Picking up on Geonosis (which Vader went to in Attack of the Clones as Anakin Skywalker), Vader, Doctor Aphra, and two assassin droids are there to find a droid army that Vader can use secretly for his own ends. In the tunnels of the Geonosians, the four reach their goal, though not in the way they expected. I had two major issues with Kieron Gillen’s story: 1, it steals an iconic image from Aliens, which I’m sure was used in his script to describe to the artist, and 2, Why does the character introduced on Page 7 speak Standard? On Page 3 two characters show that these characters don’t speak this language, and this is reinforced at the bottom of 4. This individual’s dialogue does not move the story forward. It was unnecessary and out of character for this species. The sequence involving this character seems rushed: it was needed to create some tension, but is not long enough to create worry in the reader, and so short as to seem ineffective. Much, much better are Pages 15 – 17. Now this is an incredibly tense scene with a smart character uttering the unthinkable. The silent panel on Page 16 is an excellent moment for the reader to try and get into the title character’s head. The conclusion to this solution was unexpected and the next destination of Vader promising. Love the last five pages, and not caring for the first three-quarters. Overall grade: C

The art: Beautiful artwork by Salvador Larroca, with the exception of Pages 3 – 12. These pages consist of the underground sequences dealing with the individual that appears on 7. Aphra is sensational in every panel she is in, as is Vader, and they should look great since they’re the two leads. But that antagonist, is too obvious a mix of an Episode II alien and a creature from Aliens. So familiar as to be painful to look at. Every droid in this book is overly shaded. Larroca should have had more confidence is his colorist to make them dark, rather than overdoing them has he’s done. There are some nice fire effects, and the layout of the final three pages has Larroca doing his long rectangular boxes to excellent effect. A mixed bag this month for visuals. Overall grade: C

The colors: An impressive job is done by Edgar Delgado this month. The opening pages on Geonosis’s surface are gorgeous, considering it’s a tan colored dust world. The orange eyes of 000 are postively brilliant as a beacon in the darkness. The fire effects, especially at the top of Page 4, look great. The shading on Aphra’s face is exceptional, and with her mostly in dimly lit surroundings, that’s an outstanding ability. Really well done. Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna provides scene setting, dialogue, 000 droid speak, an alien dialect’s font and translation (very cool!), and a yell. I like all but the dialogue, as I’ve mentioned in other Marvel Star Wars book reviews. Overall grade: C+

The final line: The first clunker of Darth Vader isn’t a disaster, but just average. After the first three issues, this is a letdown. Overall grade: C

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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