In Review: Darth Vader #17

Be prepared for your jaw to hit the floor with the conclusion of this storyline.

The covers: The image accompanying this review is the Regular cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti. I purchased a physical copy of this issue with this cover, and it is not as clear as the electronic one. On the surface of Mon Cala a storm is raging. A TIE Fighter has been battered about with damage done to one of its wings. A platform is being hammered by violent waves as the rain slams down, yet Darth Vader continues to duel with a Jedi, their lightsabers being the only bright spot on this frontpiece. This cover is just too darned dark. It’s tough to make out the images and it’s impossible to tell whom Vader is fighting. I know it should be Ferren Barr, but the character’s face is obscured by his defensive pose. Yes, that does make it realistic, but it shouldn’t do so to the point where the reader is left with questions. I would have preferred to be pulled in closer to the characters, rather than see the storm and its violence. I am buying this book for the characters, not the weather. The Galactic Icons Variant cover by Rod Reis features an awesome image of Darth Maul. This bust shot of the Sith apprentice has the villain looking down upon someone in disdain. Reis continues to hit home run after home run with these covers. Overall grades: Regular D+ and Galactic Icons Variant A+

The story: Last issue ended with the Inquisitors accompanied by several troopers cornering the Jedi Ferren Barr and his padawan Verla. The Jedi told the troopers that the Inquisitors were once Jedi and that they should execute Order 66. Heraing this, the troopers train their weapons on their superiors and begin to fire. With the Inquisitiors between them and the troopers, the two protagonists are untouched by any blaster fire. Charles Soule has the pair share a moment before escaping in dramatic fashion. Barr instructs his padawan to escape and hide. “Go deep into these tunnels, wait until the battle is done, find allies, leave this planet when you can. There must be other Jedi left in the galaxy. I have found no records of Kenobi’s death, or Yoda’s. Perhaps Quinlan Vos survives. Find one. Have them teach you.” When she asks if he will not accompany her, he responds, “No. I have another fight ahead of me. One I intend to win.” The story briefly returns to the Inquisitors and reminded me of “Save the Last One” from the second season of The Walking Dead. Vader then receives the story’s focus as he tries to capture King Lee-Char. Tarkin reenters the story soon after with devastating results. Naturally Barr appears to battle Vader, but not for the reasons anyone suspects. Soule gives this battle plenty of action, but also ties its purpose to future storylines very slickly. The outcome of the battle isn’t really in question, as this series is a set before the events of Episode IV, but how Soule is able to create tension and keep the story cannon is impressive. The final text is is a stunning, awesome, solemn way to end this story. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: The layouts for this issue are by Giuseppe Camuncoli with finishes by Daniele Orlandini. Though Camuncoli isn’t the sole artist, the book still looks fantastic. The opening page with the clones confronting the Inquisitors is spectacular, with a strong amount of firepower evident in the final panel. The first panel on the second page shows the villains trying to deflect their minions’ blasts and it’s gorgeous. The first panel (Seriously, there’s a quite a bit of spectacular work in these opening panels on the first few pages) features a dramatic action that is only missing music by John Williams. The look given by an individual at the bottom of this page communicates much to the reader. Page 4 is composed of five horizontal panels that show the Inquisitors dealing with the troopers and it’s extremely exciting. Vader’s reveal on 5 is also exciting with a breathtaking visual that shows him to be a master of the Dark Side. Page 8 is a jaw-dropper for what’s shown, especially with the panel in the middle of the page. Look at how cool this layout is, as the middle panel reveals what’s occurring, though it cuts the full-paged splash in half. This destruction is shown on 9 and if it were in a movie the audience would be in stunned silence. The entrance on 10 is excellent, as is the close-up that ends the page. I really like the point of view that ends Page 13; it’s been shown in previous issues in this series, but it’s been awhile. I never get tired of seeing a story told from this perspective. The second panel on 14 is disturbing, for this individual shouldn’t look this way — ever. This grotesque face returns on 16 accompanied by text that makes it even more horrific. The book ends with a series of images that can be considered glorious or sad, depending on what one thinks of the events one individual created. This book looks fantastic. Overall grade: A+

The colors: My favorite colorist I continually see on Marvel books is David Curiel and he turns in another spectacular job on this book. When the clones open fire the background goes a chaotic red to match the insanity of the luminescent bolts of crimson that are fired. The brief flashback panel on Page 2 is given faded colors to show the reader this moment happened ages ago. A character receives some killer highlights on the final panel on 3. The glowing reds, greens, and blues on 7 bring an movie authentic quality to the visuals. Blues are also amazing on the center panel on 8, with them appearing in several different varieties. The greens, oranges, and reds on 9 are jaw-dropping. When the lightsaber battle occurs the colors go red, not only because Vader is involved, but to also highlight what is said during the fight. The coloring of the ships on the penultimate page is perfection. That’s Curiel: perfection. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The text of this issue contains dialogue, sounds, screams, scene settings, and transmissions, all created by VC’s Joe Caramagna. The sounds on this book are outstanding, from lightsaber ignitions to their clashing. However, I really wanted to see all the blaster fire, such as from the clones, get their due. It’s not Caramagna’s decision to insert sounds, but, looking at this issue, what writer or editor wouldn’t want him to include them? The screams are also well done, as are the transmissions. Sadly, the dialogue and scene settings continue to be in need of overhauling for their weak design. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Be prepared for your jaw to hit the floor with the conclusion of this storyline. Soule continues his stunning winning streak with an outstanding conclusion to his Mon Cala saga. The artwork is also stellar, with some incredibly memorable visual moments. This is another “Must-Own” Star Wars chapter. 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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