In Review: Darth Vader #2

Outstanding story, art, and coloring with a disappointing lack of sounds.

The covers: The Main cover is by Adi Granov and it’s an interesting image. Inside an Imperial structure, judging by the lights, Vader struts–and that is the correct verb–before Grand General Tagge, whose arms are folded in anger across his chest, and a squad of stormtroopers. Vader’s holding his lightsaber as he moves by, and a wind is gusting though this interior somehow, because his cape is billowing vertically. Every element of this looks good, but all I can hear in my warped little mind is “There’s a fragrance that’s in the air and they call it Va-der…” There’s a stunning Variant cover by Star Wars cover legend Dave Dorman with a beautiful composition of Vader standing with hand almost on hip, lightsaber on, pointed downward, his cape correctly splayed, and a Star Destroyer close behind him, with several TIEs in the sky against a brown and tan washed sky. This is a cover to track down! Overall grades: Main B and Variant A+

The story: Keiron Gillen’s story “Vader” opens with an Imperial shuttle under attack. It’s situation looks hopeless until the timely arrival of Vader is his Advanced TIE Fighter. He’s leading some ships in attacking a Corellian Corvette, and he discovers something very usual about the prey. He reports his findings to newly designated Grand Gereral Tagge, whom the Emperor has commanded Vader must obey. Tagge and he share some very prickly dialogue, which ends with the Sith being sent with some troopers to find those responsible for the Corvette. An adjutant is assigned to Vader, Lieutenant Oon-Al, and he is nothing more than a clerk with meddling fingers to him. It’s easy to see that their relationship will not be smooth. Not helping is a questionable communication that Oon-Al brings up on Page 9. The scene shifts to a distant location on Page 10 with several familiar races. The reveal on 12 is great! There is an excellent surprise on 13 that will excite fans, for this is not the first time Vader has encountered these individuals. How this pair’s fate is terrific. Pages 18 and 19 are spectacular. Vader and Tagge are perfectly in character, but only one is obviously in command. This is the Darth Vader I want in my Star Wars comics. I want Gillen handcuffed to this book for life. Overall grade: A+

The art: Absolutely beautiful visuals begin with the art by Salvador Larroca. The first page is a stunner, and Vader isn’t even on it. The shuttle chase is spectacular, with the pilots aboard the pursued vessel looking great. I could hear the panic in the dialogue based on the way they’re drawn. The scene gets even better with Vader’s arrival, and Larroca never makes a false step with him. His presence brings a continual sense of dread to every page he’s on, and that’s exactly what Vader should bring to the book. When the scene moves to Tagge’s ship, the Grand General is looking at something we’ve not seen Imperials use before, and it’s fantastic. The disdain and the arrogance that Larroca puts into Tagge is phenomenal. I love the look on his face at the bottom of Page 5. Page 10 has three familiar alien races appear and they all look great. Using these three characters left me hungry to see Larroca draw more aliens. The entrance on 11 is terrific, and I dare any reader not to hear the classic Imperial March music as they look at this panel. Pages 14 and 15 show Vader and the troopers in action and they are wowsers of scenes. I really like the elongated panels that Larroca is using for these action sequences. Page 19 is the best page of the book, with Vader giving a report on what he’s learned. I could hear the watching Imperials’ knees knock as he delivers his monologue. Great, great work. Larroca should be on this book forever, as well. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: The second component of this book that is superb is the coloring. One need only look at the planet on the first page to know that Edgar Delgado is a master of his craft. The two panels that show the interior of the shuttle have its pilots brilliantly lit in orange. The coloring is perfection. When Vader’s TIE appears it’s stellar in greys and whites as it whooshes through a cloud of debris. Look at the terrific lighting effects done on Page 2 with the engines on the Corvette, the laser fire, and the swirling atmosphere on the planet. I never though I would be using the word lush on a book that focuses on one of the most evil characters in science fiction, but the colors make this book lush. The blues on the holograms are fantastic and the lighting/reflections done on Vader’s armor and costume are amazing. Delgado is an equal player in making this book amazing. He must also stay on this title for eternity. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, a scene setting, and a droid’s two exclamations are VC’s Joe Caramagna’s contributions. Why can’t he be allowed to contribute sounds to all the action in this book? He’s not the one who chooses what sounds are inserted, but the lack of sounds on this title is devastating. What’s the deal, Editor Jordan D. White? I’m also still not keen on his dialogue. The line work is too thin for me. It makes everyone look as if they’re speaking elegantly, and that’s not how any of these characters should be heard. Overall grade: C

The final line: Outstanding story, art, and coloring with a disappointing lack of sounds. 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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