In Review: Darth Vader #17

Very disappointing.

The cover: Another outstanding cover by Mark Brooks, who is showing he can do no wrong in his creation of covers for Star Wars books. This features an enormous Vader, standing center, his lightsaber ignited and held low. To his immediate right are two TIE-fighters, with a TIE pilot in profile below them. To his left is a Stormtrooper with a blaster held ready. Before them, in red, are three Imperial walkers, a snowtrooper, and a scout walker. This is a beautiful cover, which could work for any issue of this series, and isn’t pertinent to this installment. It is beautiful, though. Overall grade: A

The story: Part II of “The Shu-Torun War” by Kieron Gillen begins with the recording of Vader telling the barons who are rebelling to cease their actions or they will be killed. One baron, Rubix, believes that Queen Trios needs to be reminded that it is the barons who have kept her safe on Shu-Torun. Meanwhile, the queen and Sith Lord have gone to the ancestral retreat of the royal family to plan their next move, and that’s when the barons make theirs. Faster than you can say “Yamato!” they are attacked and Vader decides to fight rather than take flight. He’s accompanied on his mission with the twins who’ve been augmented by Cylo. The action on the vessel is too quick and contains no tension. Following this action sequence is political maneuvering done by the Queen to save one of her people, one of the twins speaks to Vader about training, and the Dark Lord speaks with someone who claims to have found Dr. Aphra. There’s a lot going on, but the story seems to be going nowhere. There’s no progression in the war, the action sequence isn’t exciting, and Vader goes through the expected motions of a character who’s supposed to be tough. The final page holds the promise of something more thrilling occurring next month, but after this just about anything would be. Overall grade: C-

The art: The first page of the issue is a full paged splash of the hologram of Vader demanding the surrender of the barons. It’s a nice shot of him, but the entire bottom half of the image will make absolutely no sense to anyone unless they’ve read the previous issue. Better are the next two pages which show the major contrast between locations: the barons’ chamber for conversation and the ancestral getaway for royalty. The first is a classical room decorated in marble and ornamentation that seems to have come from 1700s Paris, with a tip of the hat to the design of Moebius, while the second looks very similar to Mustafar. The splash on 4 features a ship whose design is just too similar to an Earth vessel, taking readers out of the Star Wars universe. The action scenes within the vessel are okay, but not once do readers get to see Vader or the twins clearly taking out the crew. Instead, the encounters are obscured by objects in the foreground or the after effects are shown. This was very disappointing. Salvador Larroca continues to make Vader look incredible in every passage, and the Queen is equally impressive. Cylo gets some really good scenes in this issue, with his final appearance being his best. The title character’s final three pages have him looking good, but the character he’s speaking with is hard to make out due to the coloring, and I had to really look to see what that character was trying to do to the Sith. The majority of this issue looks good, but there are several speed bumps. Overall grade: B

The colors: Edgar Delgado starts off the issue with the cool blues of several holograms, which perfectly match the effect shown several times in the films. The orange and yellows of the magma on five pages are powerful, packing a good punch into Larroca’s imagery. Five pages have the Sith backlit by a setting sun and they are spectacular: they allow Vader to be especially menacing, since he’s either black or red. There’s also a really cool coloring job done with one of the twins which shows off some cybernetic implants. I’m not keen on Vader’s final two pages, as the individual he’s speaking with is difficult to make out. That said, Delgado closes things out slickly with the return of ominous blues for some holograms. Overall grade: B+

The letters: Transmissions and droid speak (the same font) and dialogue are VC’s Joe Caramagna’s contributions to this issue. Having the holographic transmissions and the droid dialogue be the same font is visual confusing; their differentiation is done with the shape of the dialogue balloon. The dialogue continues to be weak, with Vader’s speech visually the same as humans who don’t share his voice modulation, and it’s incredibly thin and weak. The action scene has no sounds, making its mute-ness disappointing. This is the weakest element of this issue. Overall grade: D+

The final line: Due to how this book begins and ends, only the last page seems necessary to the overall arc of this story. This installment just kills time. Very disappointing. Overall grade: C

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.
    No Comment