In Review: Darth Vader #8

A good heist story with an excellent new character make this fun reading.

The cover: Interior artist and inker, Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado, have created another cover with the Sith Lord, but he’s not the dominant character. In the front is Doctor Aphra with her gun raised to blast someone. Behind her is Vader, holding his sword regally as he deflects a beam of green energy. Their evil droids are behind them, trying to avoid all the fire that they’re taking. I love the pose on Triple Zero and the smoke effect for the background is very well done. The coloring is awesome. Having Aphra in the front is a nice change up and she looks fantastic. Overall grade: A

The story: From the opening title page, “…on the Outer Rim planet Son-Tuul, a gathering of bounty hunters and mercenaries are greeted by Aphra, who offers them the chance to steal the sum of a lifetime from an Imperial ship…” Kieron Gillen’s story begins at Anthan Prime, the Edge of the Outer Rim where Aphra and her cohorts are aboard her ship about to set their plan in motion. They’ve set a charge on a huge piece of rock, blow it to create a gazillion asteroids which begin to pummel the Imperial ship. As it’s getting smashed about, Aphra fires an ion torpedo at the vessel so she and her band can gain entrance. Once in, each member has their own task. This is a nice caper issue, with Aphra taking the lead. While reading this story the question of “Where’s Vader?” will be in the back of each reader’s head. Oh, he’s in this issue in the best possible way. Without spoiling any part of this tale, highlights include Pages 5, 10, 12 and 13 (WOW!), and the final two pages which finally introduces an outstanding supporting character. I’ve always been a little disappointed that the type of characters that are similar to this individual are often portrayed as incompetent, gluttonous, lazy, or maniacal. Gillen has created a character that, in two pages, is none of these. He’s competent and good at his job, as terrible as it is. I really hope that this character sticks around for a while. I really enjoy the criminal act in the opening and the final two pages, but I was put off the reappearance of a group of characters on Pages 15 – 18, whom I really disliked. They’re too over-the-top for me. I’m gladdened by the majority of this book, but remain very cautious in how those four pages will influence later storylines. Overall grade: B+

The art: This is an outstanding looking book due to Salvador Larroca’s excellent art. Doctor Aphra is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters of all the new Star Wars books because of Larroca’s work. She is fantastic looking. She emotes as a person would, not a line drawing. Her smug, overconfident grins and posture are terrific. Look at Page 10 to see her range in five panels — this is great! On 12 and 13 she shows an entirely different range and it’s just as sweet. Gillen has her growing enormously as a character, and with every image Larroca adds to that growth. It could be a smile, a frown, or a slight head tilt down, each says so much about her. The opening sequence to board the Imperial ship is epic and what occurs onboard it is awesome. I was so pleased to see the antagonists that appeared on Page 5, as these characters are some of my favorites of all the films and Larroca renders them flawlessly. Page 11 is set at a new setting and it looks incredible. The characters are only there for three pages, and I wish that the story could have dwelt there longer so that Larroca could draw more of it. The first three panels on 14 look so good I’d be willing to buy three different books that told what led to their occurring. The individual that appears at the bottom of that page looks exactly like Don Henderson. I’ve expressed my dislike of the characters that appear on 15 – 18 in earlier reviews of this series and I stand by them. On the final two pages Vader is accompanied by a new character and Larroca uses long horizontal panels, mirroring a film’s dimensions, and they’re awesome. I can’t ding an entire issue on design done in an earlier issue, but I can wish it were a bit different. Overall grade: A 

The colors: Matching the excellent artwork are the superb colors by Edgar Delgado. I love the planet’s surface, done with colors, on the first page. The interiors of Aphra’s ship are a rusted contrast to the exteriors, instantly giving a damaged, sinister tone to the art. The coloring on Triple Zero is stunning in every panel he appears. Page 5’s introduction of some of my favorite characters have a harsh color used for the background to intensify the fighting that happens. 12 is Delgado’s best. It’s cold, it’s dark, and his choices and placement of blues and whites makes the text so much more stronger. Outstanding. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, droid speech, Wookie growls, yells, and sounds are done by VC’s Joe Caramagna. Still not liking the font for dialogue, which is too thin to demand any power. Read Vader’s dialogue and think if it has the same sound or emotional punch as the characters in the scenes with him. It doesn’t. It never has and continues to be limp. Overall grade: B-

The final line: A good heist story with an excellent new character make this fun reading. 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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