In Reivew: Darth Vader #24

This voyage into the damaged mind of fallen Jedi is absolutely recommended for Star Wars fans.

The covers: The Regular cover image will send fans into hyperspace to open this book. Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado, the interior artist and colorist respectively, have Padme Amidala in the upper left hand corner, her back turned to the reader. In the lower right corner stands Darth Vader, his back turned to his wife. He holds his ignited lightsaber as if ready for battle, but there is no foe apparent, yet a giant shadow consumes the space between him and his wife. This is a terrific dramatic image to show the emotional distance between the two characters and tease the reappearance of the one person who meant everything to Anakin Skywalker. The Variant cover is another Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher. This faux Kenner cover spotlights Triple-Zero (0-0-0). The figure looks as though it could have been an action figure and the large picture is a good bust shot of the evil protocol droid. This was the cover I had to purchase. Overall grades: Regular A and Action Figure Variant A+

The story: Last issue Vader had finally made his way to Cylo, the evil cybernetic scientist he’s been tasked to kill by the Emperor. Unfortunately he hadn’t foreseen that the man would have a kill switch for his cybernetic suit, making the Sith Lord kneel down before him. Feeling confident in his defeat of his foe, Cylo places his hand upon the Dark Lord’s helmet and says, “Cylo to fleet. Continue the plan. The Executor is secure. Vader is no longer a threat.” Though his suit has betrayed him, Vader’s mind is definitely active: he thinks of his past. He finds himself on Mustafar, as Anakin Skywalker, his legs and left arm have been cut off by his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who walks away from him. “I loved you, Anakin,” says the heartbroken Jedi. This has Anakin explode emotionally, “You’re a liar and a coward!” From this point on, writer Kieron Gillen changes the events that were seen in Revenge of the Sith, starting with Anakin making a startling confession on Page 5. A stunning action is then made by Obi-Wan, with the result of this action being terrifying. The issue moves through Vader’s mind as he confronts every individual from his past that led to his becoming a iconic terror. There are several outstanding moments, that I will not spoil, but it should be said that the dialogue atop 7 was awesome, the character on 8 outstanding, the final line on 10 terribly thrilling, and 12 – 13 will break hearts. This peek into the Sith’s heart shows his darkest fears and worst revelations. When this inner conflict is resolved and the story returns to the present, Vader makes an action that has building for over a year and Gillen makes it absolutely satisfying, with the text on 17 perfect. With this being the penultimate issue, this conclusion with Vader’s foe might leave the reader wondering what Gillen has left to tell. The final three pages masterfully show that not all is resolved and that there is still some messy business for all of the Sith to deal with, such as a new/old threat and several tales an important woman has to tell. Overall grade: A+

The art: The first page is fantastic way to show the state of the title character, with him kneeling before Cylo, whose hand is upon the villain’s head like a master to his dog. Artist Salvador Larroca then uses the second page to show the reader that he or she is going to go into Vader’s mind, starting with a bust shot of the Sith and then moving into one of his eyes, having it change on Page 3 into Anakin’s red and yellow orbs as he crawls on the banks of one of Mustafar’s many fiery rivers. Seeing Anakin at this lowest point of his life was a dark thrill, for this is when his life changes, as does that of the galaxy. 4 is a full page splash that bleeds off the page showing the violence of the volcanic world, with the two Jedi looking insignificance against it. There is one panel inserted into this image and it’s Anakin completely engulfed in his anger as he rails at Obi-Wan. Pages 5 – 7 are shocking to view, as these pages are not what occurred in Episode III, with the action on 5 jaw dropping and the emergence on 6 a horror come to life. The appearance of the character on 8 is glorious and their battle wonderful, though I do wish that those tiny images hadn’t been in silhouette, as I needed to see these characters spar. How Vader wins this conflict is an outstanding visual. The walkaway on 11 is sinister and grotesque. The two pages that every reader must see are 12 and 13, where Padme appears. She looks amazing and Vader’s reactions, which are made entirely by his posture because his mask is immobile, are like a Star Wars fan’s dream come true. The location they go to in the third panel on 13 is a major WOW! moment. The cutting back and forth between panels on 14 and 15 is fantastic and justify the actions that Vader takes in the present. The payoff is on 16 and it is a perfect climax for the these characters’ relationship. The awakening on 18 is pretty cool looking, with the exterior shots and the goop surrounding the character very neat. The final page is outstanding for the anger emanating from the second panel and the smug response in the third. This book looks terrific. Overall grade: A

The colors: The cobalt blues of the first page lead the reader to Vader’s slight bow, while the muted golds of Cylo’s coat draw attention to him. As shown on this page, the colors of Edgar Delgado make Larroca’s visuals sing. The yellows of Mustafar’s lava rivers explode off the page beginning on 3, but look at the highlighting of Anakin’s face, with his eyes being riveting. The glow of this river backlights Anakin in the final panel on 4, with the red of his eyes, mouth, and the border around his dialogue balloon giving an emotion punch to the illustration. Look at how Delgado gives a neat royal flair to the character’s arrival on 8 by making the ground and background violet, insinuating that this character is king-like, being fated to be the savior of the galaxy. The stark difference in colors between panels on 14 and 15 assist the reader in realizing that he or she is looking upon two different locations: that of Vader’s mind and the read world. The crimson on 16 is a stand out color, vibrantly ending the ongoing conflict. I love the yellow in the second panel on 20 which always makes that character so demonic. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates dialogue, yells, the sounds of someone being strangled, a KLLK!, and a scene setting for this issue. I’ve never been fond of seeing Vader’s font be the same as other characters, since he’s speaking through a mechanical vocalizer, so this makes him appear visual weak when he speaks. I do wish there had been some lightsaber sounds in this book, as they are essential to several actions, but that’s not Caramagna’s decision. What’s here serves the story, but it could have been better. Overall grade: B

The final line: For this voyage into the damaged mind of fallen Jedi, this is absolutely recommended for Star Wars fans. If this is the second-to-last issue, what’s Marvel got planned for the finale? Overall grade: A-

To order this book go to http://marvel.com/comics/issue/55404/darth_vader_2015_24

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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