In Review: Darth Vader #20

This is must reading for Sith lovers!

The cover: This is a surprise: there’s only one cover for this issue! Quite the rarity! Darth Vader is battling an unseen foe whose crimson lightsaber is crossing blades with the Sith. Vader is looking to his left at his opponent, his cape billows out behind him, and sparks are flying everywhere from their contact. Very cool, that teases something without showing it, but ultimately a very generic cover. This was created by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Elia Bonetti. Overall grade: B

The story: Within Inquisitor Headquarters on Coruscant, Darth Vader has ignited his saber as he confronts Mira, a member of this Dark Jedi group. Arriving on the scene is the Grand Inquisitor, asking the Sith if this is some sort of test. Vader simply says, “No,” and brings his blade down upon her, but is blocked by the Inquisitor she is sitting with. He is the same one that accompanied her on her last mission assisting Vader. “Interesting,” he says as their blades lock. “I sensed a connection between the two of you. An attachment. A weakness you believe is strength. The death of Eeth Koth should have served as a lesson to you about such things.” Mira runs away down the hall as Vader uses the Force to throw the male Inquisitor against a wall. “Apparently, it did not.” After the male Inquisitor flees, the Grand Inquisitor asks if Vader needs assistance. “No need,” says the Lord of the Sith as he walks calmly after his prey. Wow! Charles Soule continues to hit a home run with this issue in two different ways: Vader pursuing the Inquisitors and a conversation between Vader and his master. This story is full of action starting on Page 6. There are several deaths during this chase, with ones that seem random later revealed to have been very important. Pages 11 and 12 are jaw-dropping. The conversation that follows is perfection, with an absolutely brutal reveal on 16 and a stunning response on 18. This is must reading for Sith lovers! Overall grade: A+

The artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli continues with the layouts and the Daniele Orlandini the finishes. This book also continues to look amazing. The small panels that are used on the opening page created an incredible amount of tension before a character takes action. The close-up in the second panel on the second page exhibits a surprising amount of emotion that would justify Vader’s plans. The last panel on Page 3 sweeps left to right, having the reader scan an ocean of darkness before showing Vader leaving the room; what a great way to reinforce his dark soul. Page 5 has a WOW! moment as Vader makes his way through the highways of the city. The transition from calm to chaos on 7 is excellent. Pages 8 and 9 have ten panels that are to be read all the way across the center of the book. This allows the artists to have an incredibly long panel at the top to establish the characters, their distance from one another, and their surroundings — it’s great! The penultimate panel on 9 is another WOW! moment, for this sort of thing just doesn’t ever happen. I’m also enjoying the two panel sequence on 10 that splits a panel in half to have the reader focus on a weapon and then on a character; this amplifies the emotion incredibly. The massive large panel that closes out 12 is wonderful for the amount of detail in the setting and how small the conclusion to this conflict now seems in the larger scheme of things. The smile on the character’s face on 15 is wonderfully unsettling. The reveal on 16 is a gut punch to the highest degree. How it effects Vader remains unknown until the end of 16. The bottom three panels of 17 will have readers pause in their reader: soaking in what they’re witnessing and what they’ve just read. This book looks incredible. Overall grade: A+

The color: Assisting Camuncoli and Orlandini in creating amazing visuals are Dono Sánchez-Almara and Erick Arciniega who are responsible for the book’s colors. Vader always seems like he’d be a tricky character to color because of all his black colors, but this pair do a sensational job on the title character, using every shade so that every element of him can be clearly seen. Check out the use of reds on the first page, issuing from Vader’s blade and Mira’s crimson skin. Reds are also used for sound effects from actions Vader commits, giving them a hellish tone. When the chase goes high among the skyscrapers of Coruscant the background colors are beautiful, reinforcing the beauty this location has to offer. The colors go red and orange when the violence begins, rending the calm setting asunder. The interiors of the final setting are in traditional Imperial colors: black with white highlights and they look as thought they come right off the big screen. The yellow eyes of Vader’s companion are cool and sick. Notice how the final panel of the book has a red glow emanating from the bottom of the page, eluding to the place Vader mentions. So darned cool! Overall grade: A+

The letters: The text of this book, created by VC’s Travis Lanham, includes scene settings, dialogue, and sounds. I’m not a fan of Star Wars’ comics’ dialogue, which is just too thin to hold any power. This is apparent from the final two speakers of the issue, whose speech looks as though it should be accompanied by butterflies. The scene settings are also odd, as they have an outline in white. Often the colors used for the interiors of this text are pale, which weaken the announcement of each locale, and that’s the case in this issue as well. This has been the case since Marvel regained this franchise, so I cannot blame Lanham for following what’s been done before. Thankfully, the sounds on this book are awesome with several large and small ones that look terrific. I especially like the smaller ones during the chase. Overall grade: B

The final line: Vader’s wrath knows no bounds as he hunts a pair of traitors that have infested the Emperor’s pet project. The action is epic and the conversation that follows equally stellar. The visuals are stunning, with tension running high even during the final eight pages. There are two scream worthy moments in this issue that will have fans ecstatic. Marvel continues to make evil an enjoyable reading experience. 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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