In Review: Darth Vader #14

This chapter in the Vader Down saga is excellent!

The cover: There are several Variant covers that I found online, but there’s no definitive listing of them from Marvel, so (once again) I’ll just be reviewing the Main cover. Han and Luke are surrounded by battle droids, with the men doing what they do best — Han is shooting them with his blaster and Luke is swinging his lightsaber furiously. This cover by Mark Brooks is really good. Five droids are closing fast on the heroes, with the pair drawn excellently. The poses on them are strong and the entire color scheme has got a violet hue due to the purple sky behind them. Terrific work. Overall grade: A

The story: Part IV of Vader Down, hatched by Jason Aaron & Kieron Gillen, with Gillen writing this issue, opens with Threepio being contacted by Han. He instructs the droid to contact Leia that he and Chewie have found Luke. C-3PO contacts the princess, unaware that she is face to face with Vader, whose lightsaber is activated. Elsewhere, Dr. Aphra blows off the debris that caved in on her and her droids, Triple Zero and BeeTee. The protocol droid has lost both arms after its encounter with Chewbacca and before any commentary can be made of its situation, a communication device goes off on Aphra. “At last. The hairy cavalry.” She orders the droids to follow Skywalker, while she speaks with her ally. The showdown between Leia and Vader will have readers on the edge of their seats, with the words spoken by the Sith on 5 sparking many questions. Leia makes a terrible decision, forcing her friends to assist her, were it not for the arrival that occurs on 10. The pilot’s reveal on 11 is great, and harkens back to an earlier issue in this series. There’s an expected response at this character’s appearance, and Gillen gives the readers exactly what they want. There’s a shocking scene on 15, with the atrocity committed behind a cloud of dust, but its repercussions obvious. The cliffhanger is also terrific, with it bringing in the individual responsible for this fiasco. An excellent read. Overall grade: A+

The art: The visuals on this book continue to be outstanding with Salvador Larroca involved. The iconic characters look just like their film counterparts, be they human, droid, wookie, or armored. I’m exceeding impressed that Larroca is able to get emotion out of characters with immovable faces, such as the droids and Vader. The golden droid’s posture on the first page is comparable to what he’s done in the films, while Vader dominates every panel he appears in, especially in the full page splash on 2. When Vader turns his head on 5 and 6 it’s startling, as is his stare forward in the third panel on the latter page. Plus, his final image on that page is beautifully sinister as his visage is obscured by the dust. The human characters emote wonderfully, as shown by Leia on 8, Han on 13, and Luke on 9 and 10. Chewie also shows some excellent emotion, on 12, while the villain that appears on 11 is just awesome. The final four pages of the book show several different types of ships and Larroca has rendered them flawlessly. Page 19 has an outstanding action sequence that teases the antagonist’s identity, which is only revealed by the final page. Larroca’s work is fantastic on every page. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The coloring on this book is equally impressive. Threepio and the three males appear on the opening page, which has the golden droid almost matching the desert terrain, but standing out just enough to have the focus fall on him. There’s a constant flow of dust blowing before and about the characters, granting a realistic flavor to this tale as the brown and tan dirt swirls about. On Page 2, Edgar Delgado colors the characters in the foreground brighter than those at a distance, giving the illustration a three dimensional effect. Aphra’s appearance has a pale lime sky, making her and droids stand out. Throughout the book, Delgado gives the characters’ flesh perfect shades, as well as perfect shines to each droid. Page 11 has the best coloring, because of the complexity of the main figure and the sensational deep reds done for the character’s speech. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, transmissions and droid speak (the same font), sounds, Wookie speech, and yells are crafted by VC’s Joe Caramagna. Having recently seen The Force Awakens for a second time, the lack of sounds, especially on Pages 18 and 19, are unbelievably disappointing. Evidently, the sounds cannot be awoken on Marvel comics. Overall grade: B-

The final line: This chapter in the Vader Down saga is excellent! I can’t wait to see how this ends! 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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