In Review: Darth Vader #13

Familiar faces are now placed in Vader's past as he is to make an example of them for the Emperor.

The covers: A pair to find for this first issue in the “Burning Seas” saga. The Regular cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti features Vader in his meditation chamber, his helmet just above his head. The Sith’s battered and burned head is shown to the reader, revealing the tortured form of what was once Anakin Skywalker. This is an often done image by artists, but Camuncoli and Bonetti make it look fantastic. You can almost hear Vader’s breathing on this. The Galactic Icons Variant cover is by Rod Reis and focuses on Snoke, snarling at the reader. Given how very little of this character is shown in the films, I can’t get too jazzed by him. The illustration looks fine, but the character, because of the films, has no presence whatsoever. Overall grades: Regular A and Galactic Icons Variant C-

The story: Charles Soule opens his tale in dramatic form. Obi-Wan says, “It’s over, Anakin. I have the high ground.” This classic climax from Revenge of the Sith takes a turn when Anakin is revealed to be Darth Vader. Using the Force he flings his former master to the ground and flames begun to engulf the older man. As he says, “You were my brother, Anakin. I loved y–” he completely immolates. Why his alternative scene from the film is occurring is revealed on Page 5. It makes sense, as that character would be constantly reliving that moment. It’s been three years since Palpatine took control of the government. He’s been accumulating more power and believes it is time for the galaxy to realize that there is only one voice that rules: his. He sends Vader to a planet that will serve as an example to the rest of the galaxy. The Death Star and Krennic are rightly mentioned, but neither make any appearances. At this world is the Imperial Star Destroyer Sovereign, containing some new and familiar faces. On this world are some iconic Star Wars races, with one individual incredibly famous. Vader’s arrival is preceded by a fairly new type of stormtroopers, as well as some familiar characters from the recently concluded Rebels television series. The interaction between Vader and a character on Pages 16 – 18 is the highlight of the book. More of that PLEASE! There is a tease of another character on the final page, but the identity of this hooded person is left for a future issue to reveal. Soule has been on fire with this series since it started, so I’m confident he’ll deliver some major thrills in upcoming installments. Overall grade: A 

The art: Also looking good are the pencils by Giuseppe Camuncoli and the inks by Daniele Orlandini. The opening four pages that place a neat twist on Episode III’s major scene are fantastic. The teasing reveal at the bottom of the first page is a slick way to show the reader that these events are not going to go as one would think. The full-paged splash on 2 is perfection. The fear in Kenobi’s eye in the fourth panel on Page 3 looks great, as do the panels the follow with him being tossed aside. His burning body is absolutely painful to look upon. The first image on 5 will look familiar and it’s a great visual justification for the previous four pages. The Emperor looks great. He’s a withered husk with talons for fingers — just the raising of a hand makes him look threatening. The first image of the Sovereign is spectacular. The back of the individual in the panel that follows had me screaming at joy at his appearance. On 10 a setting is introduced for the world and I can’t recall seeing this before in any comic. It looks great and the characters there look fantastic. The sole human at this location looks wonderfully roguish and like someone who would be side-by-side with Lando Calrissian. I love the accoutrements on the lead character on these pages to differentiate him from the rest of his species. The ship that arrives at this locale is picture perfect and the characters that emerge from it are spectacular, with the entrance on 16 dynamite. The focus and emotion on the shorter character on this page is stellar, showing this individual’s resolve early in his career. The final page teases another character of a famous group, but reveals nothing. I’m dying to know who this is and see how Camuncoli and Orlandini illustrate him or her. Overall grade: A

The colors: The reds, yellows, and oranges on Mustafar’s opening four pages look perfect. The shine they place on Vader and Kenobi look great, with Obi-Wan visual consumed by colors before being consumed by flames. The Emperor’s throne room looks great in blacks, grays, and whites. Colorist David Curiel could have made things darker, as they were in Return of the Jedi, but he doesn’t, allowing the reader to see every element of the art, and I’m grateful he did so. Page 10 introduces the aliens on the surface of their world and the colors are beautiful. I especially like the green ceilings and the light oranges on the throne. Crimsons appear beginning on 14 and they become fantastic in the top panel on 16. The blue skies of this world are beautiful, allowing the blacks of the Imperials to stand out as well as the major event that occurs. The last page uses colors excellently to show the reflection of water on the walls and it looks great. I’m standing and applauding Curiel’s work on this issue. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna is responsible for creating this issue’s dialogue, sounds, transmissions, scene settings, and the important last word of the issue. The dialogue font is not great, making the big bads sound minuscule, and the scene settings are difficult to read, being outlined in white. The sounds look good, though, and seeing where this story is headed I’m sure there will be many more of them to come. Overall grade: B

The final line: Familiar faces are now placed in Vader’s past as he is to make an example of them for the Emperor. The story is excellent, the iconic characters outstanding, and the visuals terrific. Again, Darth Vader continues to be one of the strongest Star Wars comics on the market. Seek this out! 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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