In Review: Darth Vader #12

Nothing big or flashy in this issue, but plenty of tension from some Imperial officers’ plot to kill Vader.

The cover: Just one cover for this issue, which is a first for this series. Vader holds his lit lightsaber before him proudly. Last issue his iconic weapon was destroyed, so it seems he was able to build a new one. I like how the blade is before his face, obscuring the left side. Good illustration by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Elia Bonetti. Overall grade: B+

The story: On his way back to Coruscant, Vader learns that the Kill Contract that was placed on him came from “the highest levels of the Imperial Executive building, which includes the offices of Emperor Palpatine.” As he’s hearing this information he’s rebuilding his lightsaber. He has this completed just as he arrives in the Galactic Core. Unfortunately his ship’s comms have been jammed, resulting in their ship being tagged as part of a Separatist splinter cell. Missiles are launched at him. He pushes aside the Ninth Sister to pilot the ship himself. This was a good inclusion by writer Charles Soule. Too often Vader is shown as solely a Force user to take down foes, but in this conflict he has to use his skills that he had as Anakin Skywalker: the greatest pilot Obi-Wan Kenobi knew. After his escape he meets with the Emperor for a tense question and answer session. This scene firmly establishes the pair’s relationship. What follows then recalls stories from Marvel’s original run of Star Wars: Imperial officers trying to take down Vader. There’s a three page scene in the Uscru District (Great name!) where operatives plot to take down the Sith, but the pages that follow show there’s no chance of that happening. This issue concludes with Vader being revealed to the officers in stunning fashion. This is not a story with explosions or chases, but it is one that firmly plants Vader on the path to his destiny. Overall grade: A

The art: Giuseppe Camuncoli is the penciler and Daniele Orlandini the inker on this outstanding issue. The book begins with Vader finishing his new lightsaber, with a sensational point of view shot in the third panel on Page 2 that would make Tony Stark envious. The final panel on the same page was the image used for the cover to this book. The bottom of 3 made me smile a little because Vader is receiving some bad news and looks as if his eyes have grown in shock, which shouldn’t be possible since he’s wearing that mask, but you take a look at the panel and tell me it doesn’t look a little cartoony. The battle is quick, but drawn well, and the landing is outstanding. The confrontation with the Emperor is terrific, with many of the panels on Page 8 with little or no text, which allows the reader to fill in the emotional gaps only from the visuals and they are intense. The first panel on 9 was a shocker, but that’s Camuncoli and Oralandini doing what they should. I love The Room of Masks and I’m hoping that Vader gets in there at some point. What Vader is doing while those two characters are having a conversation calls back to a previous image from an earlier issue and it continues to be cosmic and terrifying. Vader’s introduction to the officers is incredible. It looks like a scene from a film and is incredibly powerful. The drama that this pair of artists can pack into a panel is terrific. Overall grade: A

The colors: Gracing the pages of this book is colorist extraordinaire David Curiel (who is also crushing it weekly in the “No Surrender” saga in Avengers). The colors of the first panel excellently uses several shades of blue and white to complete the visual of hyperspace. The reds on Page 2 are outstanding. When Vader takes control of his ship, take a look at the terrific job Curiel does with the blacks and grays on his armor. Grays and whites are used exceptionally well for the Emperor’s flesh, which always seems as if he’s nothing more than a walking corpse. Vader’s meditation panels have an outstanding use of reds, whites and pale violets, making these nightmares of panels vivid. Notice, too, how coloring draws the eye in the final panel on 18. Without question, Curiel is one of the best colorists in the business today. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, droid speech, scene settings, and sounds are what VC’s Joe Caramagna bring to this issue. I’m still not pleased with the dialogue font, which gives everyone a weak tone when they speak. This is especially true when Vader and the Emperor converse. The scene settings are also not great, with their white outlines continually making their content blurry no matter how they are colored. The sounds, though few, are good, though. The crash landing on Coruscant is strong. Overall grade: B

The final line: Nothing big or flashy in this issue, but plenty of tension from some Imperial officers’ plot to kill Vader. The story is creepy, the reveals shocking, and the visual outstanding. This is Star Wars. Overall grade: A-

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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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