In Review: Darth Vader #15

Even a water world is no match for the Dark Side of the Force.

The cover: Surprisingly there’s only one cover for this issue, but it is a good one. Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti have Vader underwater using his lightsaber to bore a hole into something. Debris is floating away from his wrath as are a swarm of bubbles making a beeline for the surface. The Sith’s robes are flowing behind him like a dark shadow. Even underwater, Vader has a strong stance as he wields his weapon with both hands. The image is great and the coloring terrific, with the crimsons from his blade looking impressive. Overall grade: A

The story: Last issue King Lee-Char ordered all surface dwellings on Mon Cala to be destroyed. Vader was caught in the destructive wake and was falling like Ed Harris from The Abyss into the black depths of the ocean. This issue begins with his fall continuing into the Great Ungeness Trench. He ignites his lightsaber so he can see around him, but all that’s visible is ebony and pieces of debris. His suit begins to notify him that he’s running out of oxygen and that the external pressure will cause a suit rupture imminently. He drops his saber after a prickly tentacle wraps around his leg. A squid-like creature crabs him and begins to pull the Sith Lord into its monstrous maw, but Vader uses the Force, putting an open hand before the creature. And that’s when some very cool things begin. I will not spoil what occurs, but Star Wars fans are going to go crazy for Page 5. Some other characters appear on 6 and they are great. The dialogue on Pages 8 – 10 is absolutely chilling. The reader will feel incredibly nervous at Vader’s tone and what the repercussions from this exchange will produce. The top of 10 is Vader at his finest. Writer Charles Soule doesn’t just show what Vader is up to, as the pages that follow show that Commander Ackbar is alive and well and attacking a section of the Empire’s might with a very creative and dramatic approach. If this were a movie, the audience would stand and cheer these pages. The reader shouldn’t be afraid that the Jedi are left unmentioned this issue, as they are present and they receive the worst possible news. The final two pages return to Tarkin in orbit, who makes a decision about someone close to him and a change in tactics. This has great action and outstanding characters. Even if one has grown up with Star Wars from the beginning, this is fresh and new. Vader is frightening just with his words and that’s how everyone wants him to be. Overall grade: A+

The art: The visuals are by Giuseppe Camunoli on pencils and Daniele Orlandini on inks. They are sensational. The book begins in darkness before Vader ignites his saber, casting a glow onto his hand. The artists then pull back to show a tiny Darth Vader falling backwards into an endless abyss. Two panels on 2 show his point of view, looking out from his helmet, into the darkness with only his lightsaber providing light. These look great and remind the reader that he’s in a life preserving suit. Page 3 is a series of five horizontal panels that show the reader that Vader is in a more precarious situation he believed as he encounters the giant squid. The hint of creature’s size is teased by only showing tentacles, which creates tension. The final panel on the page is a close-up of his lightsaber falling to the ocean bottom and it makes his fate seem final. A turn of the page and the creature is revealed, with its size established by having the title character in its grasp. What Vader does is told without any text, so the visuals from this pair of artists have to be outstanding. They’re not — they’re superior! The reader will be further wowed by the four panels that follow on the next two pages, showing excellent movement by several individuals. I especially like the design of the characters in close-up in the final panel. Vader’s entrance in the third panel on 8 has so much fury with him slightly slouched over in disgust. Every panel with Vader on 9 and 10 is a visual threat of vengeance waiting to explode. Without spoiling much more, Ackbar and company’s attack is visual gold that is powerful, heroic, and just awesome. The Jedi’s reaction in the final panel on 18 mirrors the reader’s reaction. And the full paged splash for the final page reveals that the worst is yet to come to Mon Cala. This book looks amazing. Overall grade: A+

The colors: With so much of the opening in darkness, one would think that David Curiel would have a difficult time in making Vader stand out. He does not. Vader is stunning in this ebony oasis. The second panel on the opening page is beautiful in crimson that comes from his lit lightsaber. It constantly draws the reader’s eye in this liquid space. When the point of view is shown from within the Sith Lord’s mask, reds frame his view and they look terrific. Notice how blues are used to show the deactivated weapon, a sad color for a sad turn of events. When characters move underwater they kick up a slight wake which Curiel highlights with light blues. Reds intensify the final panel on 9, creating fear in the reader for what could possible happen next. When Ackbar and company make their attack against the Empire it’s against a beautiful light blue sky that’s picture perfect until the reponse of red laser blasts peppers this locale. The pasty complexion of the key Imperial on the penultimate page has him looking like one of the undead, which isn’t too far from Emperor Palpatine’s own visage. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates this issue’s scene settings, sounds, a computer’s voice, transmissions, dialogue, and droid speech. My usual comments stand about the dialogue, but I have to admit it was neat to see different fonts employed for the computer and transmissions. The sounds are the big stand outs this issue, with the confrontation between the Mon Calamari and the Empire creating some beautiful/cool/perfect noises. Overall grade: A

The final line: Even a water world is no match for the Dark Side of the Force. Vader is out of his element, but is still just as deadly as he searches for hidden Jedi. This something you should pick up. 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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