In Review: Darth Vader #15

A good conclusion to the first Star Wars crossover series from Marvel.

The cover: There are Variant covers to this book, but I’m only going to focus on the Main cover, as Marvel sadly continues not to list these highly collectible covers within their books. This image by Mark Brooks is poster quality. Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker are back to back, their lightsabers ignited. Above Luke is Leia looking concerned. To the Sith Lord’s lower right is Dr. Aphra and 0-0-0. Han and Chewie are below Luke. Behind them all is a beautiful sunset with the stars already out. Everything about this image is terrific. Overall grade: A+

The story: The final chapter of Vader Down, conceived by Jason Aaron & Kieron Gillen, with the latter writing this issue, opens with something I’ve been waiting for a long time: Vader and Commander Karbin battling each other with lightsabers. Leia is watching the confrontation, her blaster on Vader, waiting for just the right moment to kill the bane of her existence. However, it’s at this moment that she’s receiving a transmission from Threepio that Luke has been taken by stormtroopers. She doesn’t acknowledge the droid, instead looking at the fight before her, but only seeing Alderaan explode, again and again. Another vision comes before her: Luke, Han, and Chewbacca dead at her feet. She knows what she must do. Meanwhile, Vader is in contact with Aphra who wants to redeem herself to Vader. As he continues to battle the cyborg Mon Calamari, Vader says, “Very well. Listen carefully.” One character is not getting out of this book alive, and fans of the franchise will know who that is. How this character is taken out is good, with Vader’s retort to his final words excellent. How Luke is able to escape his fate was a surprise, with the confrontation on 16 and 17 better, and the final panel on the page outstanding — that’s how a character makes an entrance! The final page of the book is good coda for this saga, with some excellent dramatic irony. A satisfying conclusion. Overall grade: A

The art: The artwork by Salvador Larroca is never disappointing on this title. The issue opens impressively with a full paged splash of Vader and Karbin going at each other with lightsabers. It’s an excellent action piece to get readers’ motors running. When the story turns to Leia’s point of view the story depends on the visuals rather than the text to tell the story; Leia says nothing until the final panel, with the emotions on her face giving readers an insight into what’s going through her head, and that third panel on Page 3 is outstanding — every reader will know what her decision is. There’s an excellent large panel on Page 6 that will have fans feeling exactly what the characters are feeling. There’s a slick cinematic scene on Page 7 with panels two and three making action in comics look easy to create. The reveal on 8 is staggering, with the payoff on 9 beautiful. The first panel on Page 13 should be an odd construction, but the way Larroca has composed the images within it makes it absolutely fitting, not to mention dramatic as all hell. Larroca often uses horizontal panels to tell the story, and he does so often in this book, but they look the best on 16 and 17. Such a layout makes the reading experience seem like one is viewing frames from a film, and his “cutting” back and forth between the characters accentuates this. The payoff in the final panel on 17 is marvelous. The issue ends visually the only way it can, echoing a scene from The Empire Strikes Back. Awesome work. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: After going through this issue, the one color that resonates is the pea green sky. It sounds like a terrible thing to gaze upon, but Edgar Delgado makes this look beautiful. This is apparent in its first appearances on Pages 2 and 3. It’s the perfect contrast to the tans and oranges of Vrogas Vas. With Leia, wearing her outfit from Empire, in the scene, she’s wonderfully back lit by it. The colors he uses for the explosion of Alderaan make it look terrifying, not something to “Ooh” and “Aah” at as a thing of beauty. The lightsabers really create bright colors, mirroring their film counterparts. Sounds are also well colored in this book, with Krrsantan and Artoo’s utterances strong visual noises. Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna has created droid speak, dialogue, Wookie sounds, astromech dialogue, and yells. I enjoy this Wookie and astromech speech the most. Overall grade: B

The final line: A good conclusion to the first Star Wars crossover series from Marvel. This issue wraps things up nicely, with strong visuals. Worth adding to your collection if you’re a fan. 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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