In Review: Darth Vader #7

A dark trip down memory lane starts a new chapter in the Dark Lord's life.

The cover: The abandoned home of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine receives a sinister visitor, whose shadow stretches across the desert floor and begins to engulf the structure. Great image by Adi Granov that tells of events to come in this book. Misses receiving a “plus” on the grade only because the home is so distant from the reader and too much space in the bottom quarter of the image is desert. Overall grade: A

The story: The first chapter in Shadows and Secrets begins on Tatooine with Darth Vader standing outside the Lars’ settlement, staring into the world’s iconic suns, his cape whipped by the planet’s winds. His silence is broken by Doctor Aphra asking, “What are we looking for? The place is dead. It’s been dead for weeks. No one alive. Nothing inside.” Going down into the homestead, Aphra recognizes Imperial blaster shots. Vader is searching for a trace of his prey’s presence. Looking at the damage causes the doctor to say, “Revenge is one hell of a motivator.” The Sith Lord pauses and turns to her. “You are correct.” Finding nothing, they go to their next location: Crazy Ben Kenobi’s home. Vader enters by himself, using the Force he sees Boba Fett battling Luke in the past. He makes a telling statement about Obi-Wan and then orders something surprising. He and Aphra then separate, and the book goes elsewhere. The opening six pages in Kieron Gillen’s story will have fans screaming at what’s said and done. The remainder of the book shows Vader increasing the Empire’s hold on a specific region, and who will be left in charge of it. It’s always great to see Vader in action, and he does quiet a bit of physical action and diplomatic action. The final five pages are a major question mark. This could be showing one character making decisions on their own, or it could be the results of what’s said on Page 6. I’m leaning more toward the latter, though I wouldn’t put it past the nature of that person to do what’s brought up on the last page. As this is only the start of this new “book”, I’ll be back next month to see where this is headed. Overall grade: A

The art: Salvador Larroca impresses on every page of this book. The opening page’s first panel will instantly put fans into familiar territory. The next two pages give a peek into the destruction only hinted at in Episode IV. The next two pages show the interior of Obi-Wan’s home, last seen in Star Wars #6. There’s evidence of a battle everywhere, but the way Larroca composes these scenes would have a Sith Lord hissing “Impressive…” I really like the high angle on the second panel on Page 5. The next page has impressive first panel, but it’s the final one, with the slight tip of Vader’s head that’s the standout, signifying something that’s nefarious or so emotional it causes the Dark Lord pain. The next location is fantastic, with the lead character and his actions being absolutely monstrous. Speaking of monstrous, the thing in the pen is a wonderful horror. I initially thought it was a Reek, but it’s something else entirely with a mouth that big. The entrance on 10 is spectacular, and the second and fourth panels on 12 stellar storytelling done with only two brief moments of dialogue — that eyeball in the final panel is fantastic! The alien that appears on 14 is great, with each line in that individual’s face beautiful. I do have some minor concerns on one of the characters introduced on the final five pages — and it’s the height. My knee jerk response is Jawa or Ewok, with Rocket Raccoon coming in a close third. I need to see something visually impressive in this character or I’m going to be going to this trio of default characters. The last image of the book is gorgeous. This book is indeed a feast for the eyes. Overall grade: A

The colors: I was instantly a fan of Edgar Delgado’s work on this book with that first panel. It’s an iconic shot on Tatoonie and he nailed it brilliantly. The shine on Vader’s armor from those suns is sensational in the second and third panels. Pages 2 – 4 are equally slick with the dark coloring in those residences where only memories reside. The top of 5 makes a strong color mandatory to tell what’s occurring, and, again, the reflection of light on Vader following that panel is great. The tans and browns of the second setting make the location seem alien, and provide an excellent color to highlight laser blasts and lightsabers. I really, and I can’t stress this enough, really like the red on the tall character that appear on the final five pages, and the holographic blues on the final page are picture perfect. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The scene settings, dialogue, droid speak, sounds, and Trandoshan speak all come courtesy of VC’s Joe Caramagna. I’ll be the broken record again on the way the dialogue looks, but I’d like to add that individual that’s speaking to Vader at the end of this scene should have a font that differentiates the characters from others because this “person” isn’t speaking in standard. Overall grade: B

The final line: A dark trip down memory lane starts a new chapter in the Dark Lord’s life. I’m in for the long haul! 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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