In Review: Darth Vader #9

An outstanding read, but the lettering needs help.

The cover: Darth Vader looks upon the fleet he commands from his own Star Destroyer. His reflection reinforces that he is as mechanical as the tools that fly before him. Spectacular cover from interior artist and colorist Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado. The layout is slick, with Vader seemingly looking at himself, and the coloring equally spectacular. I’d pay big bucks for a print version of his image. Overall grade: A+

The story: On Anthan 13, five rebel soldiers spot a TIE fighter outside a cave. Realizing that this is too good to be true, but knowing they only need one shot to be lucky, they proceed into the cave, thinking they can kill Darth Vader. They find him standing in a cavern, his back to them. “At last,” he says. “The Rebellion has many failings. Your slowness is most aggravating.” He then ignites his lightsaber and writer Kieron Gillen shifts from the expected violence to Anthan Prime’s orbital dockyard where the Sith Lord contacts Imperial Inspector Thanoth, who has been trying to speak with Vader. He has a theory as to what actually happened during the robbery of the Imperial cruiser. He is close to discovering what occurred, but what he does not know is that Vader masterminded the theft. A terse reply comes from the Sith about his time and what he’s been doing, but he flies to meet with the attache. Together the pair go to investigate one of Thanoth’s leads, which allows an action sequence to happen involving characters seen in earlier issues. How each man interacts with this criminal is terrific; both are monsters, with one being more monstrous than the other. When another intercedes to act with this individual, Page 14, the results are dramatic. Thanoth’s reaction and response are wonderful! I thought that Vader would make a dramatic action of his own with the inspector, but what the man says to him on 16 is reason enough to buy this issue. The final four pages move the action to Aphra, who encounters someone that’s leading her to a very dangerous location that might tell much of someone’s past. This was a fantastic story I couldn’t put down. Overall grade: A+

The art: Darth Vader is amazing looking when Salvador Larroca illustrates him. The tension he creates as the rebels sneak in to surprise the Sith only makes the fallen one’s appearance the more dramatic at the bottom of the first page. The full page splash on 2 inspires chills because any one who knows anything about Vader knows what’s going to happen. The tiny tease inset in the bottom right corner confirms readers’ suspicions and is incredibly dramatic. This tiny panel leads to a jaw droppingly stunning image of the dockyards at Anthan Prime. It’s the busiest location I’ve seen in a Star Wars space setting that doesn’t involve ships fighting. It is impressive. Also impressive is how Larroca moves his point of view around as Vader and Thanoth speak via holographic projection. Plus, the backgrounds are fully illustrated — Larroca isn’t skimping on anything around or behind the characters. Check out the third panel on Page 4 — Wow! The partial double-paged splash on 8 and 9 is another “wow” moment as a battle is shown. How Vader and Thanoth present themselves in this situation is great. Thanoth is the scene stealer on Page 15 and 16 with his expressions and posture being a match for the Sith Lord. He grew as a character because of what he says (Gillen’s domain) and how he says it (Larroca’s domain). I was fanboy overjoyed to see the race of the character that Aphra meets with, as this character isn’t seen often in Star Wars comics, from any publisher, and seeing this individual made me so happy. This book is a visual treasure chest: every inch is full of wonderful imagery. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Edgar Delgado’s coloring increases the mood of this book on every page. The pale violets and blues of the rebels’ approach on Vader provides a calm that lulls the reader into a tranquil state. The appearance of Vader in silhouette cuts a harsh streak across these colors. The coloring on 2 puts him in a light that resembles a spotlight, forcing the reader to acknowledge his dark presence. When the item is activated in the final panel on the page, the color is an eruption of energy. The dockyard is a combination of every possible color that suggests every type of metal. The holograms gorgeously mirror the strong blues of their film counterparts. The weapons fire and other energy elements of the book look powerful against the dark corners that Vader and Thanoth have to visit. For the dramatic action on 14, take note of how Delgado spotlights where the action occurs, with the brightest coloring showing where readers should look. The blues on 17 are beautiful indicators for readers that a new location is being visited. Strong, beautiful work by Delgado. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, numbers, dialogue, transmissions and droid dialogue (the same font), and astromech beeps are by VC’s Joe Caramagna. I don’t remember the movies using traditional numbers outside of A New Hope, so it seemed a bit odd to see them in the first panel. I’m still not liking the font used for dialogue: does it sound strong when Vader speaks, considering it’s the same font as the rebels? Or when Thanoth yells, does it look threatening or angry? It does not. Also not pleased that the transmissions match the same font as the droid’s dialogue shown at the story’s end — shouldn’t it be different? The shape of the dialogue balloons is doing more to establish the sound than the font, so if that’s the case, why bother with different fonts at all? Overall grade: C+

The final line: An outstanding read, but the lettering needs help. 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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