In Review: Darth Vader #11

This is a fantastic read. Every Star Wars fan will relish what transpires.

The cover: Using his lightsaber to carve a circle around him the ground, Vader stares at the reader as if daring him or her to continue toward him. Whatever element comprises the ground is creating a flame effect where the blade touches it. Excellent image of Vader and the coloring is really nice, dominated by orange flame and the dull black of the Sith Lord. This cover is by Adi Granov and it’s great. Overall grade: A

The story: Everything is starting to crumble in this issue for Vader and his minion Doctor Aphra. The Sith has sent Aphra, accompanied by BT-1 and 0-0-0 to speak with an individual known as the Ante who’s in charge of the Spire located in Anthan Prime. Kieron Gillen has his tale begin on the Spire with Aphra looking at the storms outside the station with the droids. The Ante approaches, he’s a Givin, and his permanent woeful expression hides his gangster nature. Allowing the droids to go off and play holochess, Aphra goes off with the Ante to discuss business. Meanwhile, Inspector Thanoth goes to Vader to state he has a lead on who may know who stole the Imperial credits: the Ante. Upon hearing the location of this person, Vader pauses before saying, “This is…good, Thanoth.” With an Imperial Strike Force, about 72 stormtroopers, the pair leave for the Spire. Vader is caught between a rock and a hard place: he’s sent Aphra, without the permission of the Emperor, to find the location of Luke Skywalker, but has used her to steal the credits so that she purchase the information he wants. Thanoth has been assigned to him to find out who took the credits, and now he, and Vader, are off to Spire to question the Ante who’s dealing with Aphra. Within four pages this becomes a case of “How’s he going to get out of this one?” The give and take between Aphra and the Ante was good, with her requesting something that’s rarely done in fiction, so that was good to see. When the Imperials arrive, and that’s no spoiler, it was funny why fighting broke out; which made perfect sense given the source. Pages 14 – 16 were the highpoint of the book. Long time readers of this series knew that this was going to happen at some point, but how it ends is surprising. Vader steals so many scenes by saying nothing. The characters believe him to be lost in his anger, but if they only knew that he’s scheming his way out of trouble, things would be different. Excellent read. Overall grade: A+  

The art: Beautiful work throughout from Salavador Larroca. The introduction of the Spire as a location is terrific. It’s like Cloud City on the edge of a perpetual hurricane. The interiors for this site were also good, with the Ante’s quarters being a surprise, looking more typical of 1940s pulp detective novels, and instantly giving some style and tone to this villain. There are several different and familiar aliens in this issue, with the Givin standing in the forefront. It was neat to see this character used as his species normally shows no emotion: what better asset could there be for a being than having a poker face 24/7? Thanoth continues to impress as an original character: he’s older than the typical Imperial and it gives him some wisdom which justifies his abilities. He’s wholly focused in this issue and that’s shown in the intensity in his face. Aphra also continues to delight, with her having some fantastic reactions on 15, 16, and the last panel on 19. That look on her face on that final page telegraphs to the reader how she feels about what’s occurred in this issue. Vader is also incredible looking. He’s always a dominant presence on the page and when he has a panel without dialogue readers are trying to think as quickly as he does to get out of his present situation. Overall grade: A+

The colors: There is a nice variety of colors in this book, thanks to Edgar Delgado. The storms outside the Spire are both beautiful and eerie in blue. Within the structure, the walls are obviously made out metal, but a little more teal than expected, giving readers a constant reminder of what’s outside. The three pages set in the Ante’s chambers have the comfort one would expect when the rich and power are making deals. This gave the scene some classic elegance, while still maintaining the criminal element. The arrival of the Stormtroopers is created with a cloud of debris that is colored spectacularly in browns and tans. Who knew debris clouds could be so pretty? There’s a lot of blaster fire in this book and it’s wonderfully bright. Delgado makes Larroca’s work shine. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, and 0-0-0 sounds are created by VC’s Joe Caramagna. I’ve never been happy with the frail font used for dialogue on this series: it’s hard to feel the threat in Vader’s words when his dialogue looks so weak. Overall grade: B-

The final line: With the exception of the lettering, this is a fantastic read. Every Star Wars fan will relish what transpires. An excellent book. 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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