In Review: Darth Vader #24

An incredible issue with so much going on. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: The Dark Lord of the Sith is engulfed in flames in this cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Ella Bonetti. This is a wonderfully bright cover that will have fans wondering what is going through the title character’s mind, perhaps remembering the last time he was swallowed by flames on Mustafar. Excellent image with fantastically bright colors. And, surprise, this is the only cover for this issue — there’s no variant cover, which is a rarity for any Star Wars comics. Overall grade: A+

The story: The penultimate chapter of Charles Soule’s “Fortress Vader” opens with Vader leaping into action. His recently completed, final version of his castle is under attack by the Mustafarians. As he leaps to assist his stormtroopers he hears them under attack, losing troopers, and ultimately preparing to evacuate. Landing upon the ground, he transmits to them, “This is Vader. Belay that order. There will be no evacuation.” His troopers are battling the natives, who are able to throw magma at them, with one swath directed toward Vader. Using the Dark Side of the Force, he easily turns it back upon the Mustafarians. His grateful troopers look at him as he says, “You will destroy the attackers. You will teach them the meaning of the Empire. Here. I will show you how.” Vader ignites his lightsaber and charges into the Mustafarians and his troopers are rallied and follow him, guns blazing. The carnage is intense on both sides. Vader’s actions have drawn the attention of the leaders of the Mustafarians and they make a decision. What follows is the definition of epic. They do something stunning to Vader and what he does is equally impressive. His response is on Page 12 and it’s monstrous. Just when Vader thinks he’s won the day, Lord Momin, now returned to life, wants to kill Palpatine’s apprentice. The fight between them is terrific and the dialogue is absolutely jaw dropping. The finale to the fight is incredible and the cliffhanger is absolutely scream worthy. This is an incredible story that shows the dark abilities and dark goals of Darth Vader. Overall grade: A+

The art: The layouts are by Giuseppe Camuncoli with the finishes by Daniele Orlandini. The first panel of this issue is a top to bottom vertical panel that shows the Sith in silhouette as he falls to the earth. A massive energy bolt misses him as he plummets, making him look like a dark god on the move. His landing would make Deadpool happy. When Vader raises his head to the reader it’s the final panel on the opening page and it’s awesome, with his mouth looking like a snarl of teeth. The first panel on the second page looks like something out of an Imperial Army recruiting campaign, with stormtroopers surrounding him and explosions going off everywhere. His deflection of the first swath of magma is only a subtle foreshadowing of what’s to come. His charge into his enemies on Page 3 is incredible and completely justifies why the troopers follow after him. The next page is a full-paged splash that has the Dark Lord felling foes and it’s brutal. Page 5 starts with a calm scene of the directors of the revolt and they look great. Pages 6 and 7 are composed of four panels that completely go from left to right and they show a massive attack. The reveal on 8 and the unique point of view in the second panel will make non-believers in the Force followers. The escape on 9 captures some incredible action and the page that follows has a two page sequence that clearly demonstrates who is the master. 12’s setting is ancient and awesome, while the action that follows in one panel, going across most of 12 and all of 13, is a budget buster of a visual. The battle with Momin is also epic, but much more personal because it’s one individual battling another. The climax to the fight is brutal, but it’s the final page’s visuals that one will remember. When combined with the dialogue this last page is powerful. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Yellows, oranges, and blacks are the primary colors of this issue. Fire, magma, and Sith attire demand these colors, so it’s up to David Curiel and Dono Sanchez-Almara to use every possible shade of each to make sure the artwork is still visible and boy do they! Vader’s fall is against a red backdrop which allows his ebony armor to stand out. Pages 2 and 3 look amazing for the contrast of the Empire’s finest against magma and fire. There’s a lot, seriously — a lot!, occurring on Page 4 but everything can clearly be seen due to the colors. I love hot the heat of the magma effects the colors of the Mustafarian leaders, making them orange. There are several sounds in this issue and each is given strong coloring to make them look terrific. I also like how Lord Momin’s dialogue is given a violet hue to differ him from Vader. The last page has some stellar highlighting on Vader. Wow. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This issue’s text is made up of scene settings, sounds, transmissions, dialogue. All are created by VC’s Joe Caramagna. He continues to employ the weak dialogue that all Star Wars comics, sadly, use, and the scene settings don’t look as good in this issue, with the white outlining make them difficult to read, such as on the first page. The transmissions look good, though, as do the outstanding sounds, of which there are several. Overall grade: B

The final line: An incredible issue with so much going on, Star Wars fans will be tired after reading this, but hungry for more. Vader shows himself to be vulnerable, powerful, and still pining for Padmé. The visuals are as strong as the story. Your collection is not complete without this stunning saga. Highest possible recommendation.  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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