In Review: Darth Vader #5

Vader's found something and it's made him very unhappy, but readers will be happy reading this.

The cover: Against a rusty/algae covered background, the Lord of the Sith has his lightsaber out to ward off the green and yellow sabers before him. So Vader is fighting two people wielding sabers? I’m in for that! This is a super cover by Adi Granov with excellent reflection of the sabers’ lights on Vader’s costume and helmet. This is poster, print, and tee shirt worthy. Overall grade: A+

The story: In the Outer Rim, Doctor Aphra’s ship has come to the coordinates that Vader has given her. She tries a little levity with the Dark Lord and his response is “Do not expect me to humor you.” The doctor finds the view impressive, and the Sith agrees “…if one is fond of abominations.” There are several gigantic whale-like creatures that have been augmented by technology. Vader and his army of droids dock on one of the creatures and enter the facility in a scene that echoes the arrival of the villain aboard the Tantive IV. There’s another echo from the films in this story by Kieron Gillen, and it’s from early in Episode I, and it occurs on Pages 6 with someone’s entrance. What happens on Page 7 is new and it was ghastly and perfectly in character for Vader. It is the easiest way for him to accomplish a goal and he goes about doing it in the simplest way. It was nice to see that droids, no matter who their owner is, feel slighted. Page 12 is the big surprise, and even with the cover image, I had not expected this, and I was very pleased with Vader’s reaction to them, both physically and in his dialogue. Page 18’s first panel has a brilliant bit of dialogue. It could have been handled in a myriad of ways, but Gillen nailed it for fans of Vader. There’s a surprise appearance by someone on the last two pages, and the final page has a good tease for next issue. This was a good read. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals on this book are very strong. Salvador Larroca does an excellent job on every aspect of this book, and the final pages push him to go into some new territory for this series. Vader is magnificent. He’s a hulking figure that dominates every panel he’s in, even if it’s just an image of his cape. When his helmet is shown in its entirety it signifies to readers that something pointed is going to be uttered by him. Once aboard the facility on the whale-ships, Vader is awesome. When his lightsaber is lit, there’s no time for joking. Larroca is doing the Dark Lord absolute justice. Also getting some incredible imagery are the humans, Aphra, Cylo-IV…and some others. They look gorgeous. Also good are the droids, with Triple-Zero looking great. There are few more mechanical objects by the book’s end, and they are magnificent. Only one thing bothered me, and that was the space-whales. They’ve become a really overdone trope of science fiction, appearing in Doctor Who, and I remember them all the way back in the pages of The Uncanny X-Men with the Brood’s Acanti. I’d just like to see something else than augmented whales. Granted, Larroca didn’t write them in, but visually I’ve been to this well too many times. Overall grade: A

The colors: Cinematic work is being done by Edgar Delgado on this book. Vader resembles a photograph because of the lighting Delgado is putting on Larroca’s work. Page 1 is a prime example of this in the bottom panel. Look at how Aphra is colored, too; she looks just as amazing on the same page. I love the blue sky of space on Pages 2 and 3 and the purple highlights make the whales stand out even more against them. The bright orange lines on Page 5 were terrific, and showed how coloring helped achieve movement with the art. Triple-Zero’s eyes are also gorgeous; the coloring makes him look absolutely evil, but he’s beautiful with those neon peepers. The yellow eyes on the individual that appears on the penultimate page are spectacular. I’m so thankful that Delgado was paired with Larroca because they make a perfect visual team. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene setting, dialogue, sounds, and droid speak are by VC’s Joe Caramagna. What he does is fine, though I wish he had been allowed to insert more sounds. I’ve not been pleased with Caramagna’s font for dialogue on this series, and I can now cite an example of it not helping the story: look at the emphasis Vader places on his last word at the top of Page 2. The font is too thin to create any menace in his words, or any negative emotion in the final word. It’s too flowery for Vader and for the characters of this book and franchise. The dialogue deserves a thicker, more action oriented font. Overall grade: B-

The final line: Vader’s found something and it’s made him very unhappy, but readers will be happy reading this. Good story and visuals that echoes with enough twists to keep fans entertained. 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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