In Review: Darth Vader #16

This title continues to maintain and further the iconic and ominous nature of the title character.

The cover: An incredibly stylized image of the Sith Lord against a star field is Mark Brooks’s contribution to this issue’s cover. There’s a lot of black in this image with the reflective nature of his visage providing what can be seen by the reader. It’s nice, though it’s really generic and could fit on any book featuring Vader. Comparing the image I found for this review, my actual physical copy of the book is much, much darker. Details are much easier to see in the intended cover, rather than the actual one. Overall grade: B

The story: The first part of “The Shu-torun War” by Kieron Gillen begins on Coruscant, in the chambers of Emperor Palpatine. The Master of the Sith asks if Vader has brought him tribute. Vader replies, “You have been seeking Commander Karbin. I found him.” He opens a container and the corpse of the cyborg Mon Calamari falls out. Vader continues, “You wish me to prove myself, master. Give me a fight worthy of my time.” Talk about an “In your face!” moment! This provides an opening for the Emperor to tell Vader that his presence is needed on Shu-Torum, and he will be taking Doctor Cylo with him. This does not sit well with Vader, but he obeys his master. This a return to the settings and characters from the recently published Darth Vader Annual #1. The importance of that annual now comes to light, as it provides the next big chapter in Vader’s saga. This was a great continuation of what’s been shown before, for Vader and the Queen. He is finding himself being sent out by his Master on a mission that seems beneath him, accompanied by those he considers his rivals and wannabe replacements, while the young Queen finds herself in a situation that shows herself to be at the mercy of the Empire, but wishing her public face to be one of power. Her scenes alone with Vader are incredibly strong. The scenes with Vader and Cylo are also strong. In fact, everything that comes out of Vader in this issue is so laced with threat, this could be called the best issue of this title yet. With a pause in the war, Vader puts something into motion in the final three pages that could, and should, cross into the ongoing Star Wars title. The final page’s dialogue is powerful and shows how well Gillen can maintain Vader’s iconic stature. Overall grade: A+

The art: Simply beautiful work from Salvador Larroca on this book. The first five pages with the Emperor are the stuff of dreams and nightmares. The setting on Coruscant is beautiful, with the interior being spot-on perfect in capturing Star Wars‘ architecture, and the view outside breathtaking. The nightmare is shown with close-ups of the Emperor who is positively grotesque; and he is not one-note — he shows fear, concern, glee, and finally — and worst of all — anger. The lack of expression from Vader makes the reveal of his enemy’s corpse all the more horrific. The object of Vader and the Queen’s wrath, shown in a double-paged splash on 8 and 9 is spectacular in how it creates an epic scale. The action on 12 and the fallout on 13 make his a cinematic moment. Larroca goes on to top himself with a new setting on 14 that is lavish and classical as anything one could imagine. The Queen is amazing with her reactions to what’s being said and suggested. Her image as a human (young, female, human) is exactly the opposite of Vader (old, male, cyborg–inhuman) and their pairing on a page is beautiful to look at and consider. The final three pages introduce some familiar and new faces to this book, with the last page absolutely inhuman in it’s lack of emotion, with Larroca perfectly matching the text. Larroca captures the scale and soul of Star Wars brilliantly. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Just as sumptuous as the art is, the colors by Edgar Delgado are incredible. The first page features the Emperor’s chambers with a large window looking on the skyline of Coruscant. Look at the perfect hues Delgado has placed into the scene with the clouds, the buildings, Vader, and the subtle shadows that fall on the floor. The reveal of Karbin’s body provides an opportunity for Delgado to show his mastery in making images look metallic, as wells as the sickly faded red for the dead character. Palpatine’s eyes are frightening as they ignite a panel whenever they appear. The blues used on Voidgazer and her creations are positively electric, giving them an incredibly realistic feel. The best two pages are 12 and 13, with yellow and red used sensationally. Delgado continues to prove himself a master of colors. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene setting, dialogue, a double-paged spread featuring on the book’s story and title, droid speak and a transmission (same font) and a droid’s sound are the contributions of Joe Caramagna from VC. The dialogue font shouldn’t be similar between Vader and others, as they are not all wearing voice modulators, and the droid speech and a transmission should be differentiated by the style of the font and not the shape of the dialogue balloon. Overall grade: B

The final line: A great beginning to an epic looking story. This title continues to maintain and further the iconic and ominous nature of the title character. Recommended. 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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