In Review: Darth Vader #25

This Darth Vader will shock, surprise, and stun you. Highest possible recommendation!

The covers: A trio to pick up for the final issue in this series. The Regular cover is by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti and it’s a spectacular image of Vader walking through the deadly magma that flows across much of Mustafar. His ebony armor is colored red, orange, and yellow by the fires that surround him as a blast of lightning crashes on him. This would reduce anyone to ashes, but the Dark Lord of the Sith merely continues to stride forward. Talk about a powerful cover — WOW! The Gabriele Dell’Otto Variant has Vader shown from the right, holding his ignited lightsaber low while holding and examining his closed left fist. The idea for this cover is good and so is the layout, but Vader’s form is lost in the coloring, with the left third of the image too darned dark. Decent, but not great. The final Galactic Icons Variant cover by Rod Reis features everyone’s favorite protocol droid See-Threepio. This is an appropriate character to end on for this title given that this droid was created by Anakin Skywalker. A fantastic image to close out this series of variants. Overall grades: Regular A+, Dell’Otto Variant C-, and Galactic Icons Variant A+

The story: This thirty page finale by Charles Soule begins spectacularly with Vader’s spirit/soul leaving his body and entering the portal that he believes will allow him to communicate with Padmé Amidala, his dead wife. This essence of Vader resembles the illustrations of him from previous issues: a black humanoid shape composed of swirling lines, while his missing appendages are white. He lost his right arm in the previous issue, so that is missing from this form. The portal closes and  someone speaks as he walks, though I’ll not reveal what is said. He comes upon his mother who is pregnant. Shmi holds her belly with joy, a smile is on her face. An apparition of the Emperor gleefully appears behind her, his arms outstretched. Within the woman’s belly something turns unnaturally. The scene abruptly changes to Tatooine as young Anakin races to get home when his shadow causes him to pause. Page 7 shows Vader’s soul in a new form, passing moments from a particular point in time. Pages 8 and 9 have him evolving as he passes more iconic moments. On Page 10 keys moments from a television series are shown. Eventually Anakin arrives at a familiar structure where he is greeted by several familiar faces. There is a battle, that ends with the appearance of the two greatest influences in his life on Page 18. Things do not go as one would expect. On 20 his goal is finally reached, ending in absolute horror. Something is rightfully destroyed on 27 and the final three pages have the Sith learning something that will shape his horrible future. This is outstanding. Soule pushes ever psychological button on Vader and the reader. Overall grade: A+

The art: Giuseppe Camuncoli is responsible for the breakdowns and pencils, Cam Smith the inks, and Daniele Orlandini the finishes. Vader’s spirit/soul has been shown in previous issues fleetingly, but it dominates in this finale. The first and second pages are full-paged splashes, with the first showing his soul leaving his body to enter the portal and the second showing his soul beyond the portal’s entrance with his hollow armor laying behind him like one of his victims. The angle is striking as the reader is leader looking down on the second page, like a god. The closing of the portal on 3 is a good example of action. The appearance of Shmi and the Emperor was scream worthy, with their glee for two different reasons chilling. The last panel on 5 is a wonderful entrance of the teaser poster of Episode I into canon. The fear that ends 6 is a great foreshadowing of things to come in this character’s life. The eruptions on 7 are awesome. The growth on 8 and 9 is delicious. I was ecstatic to see the individual on 10. The panel that stretches across Pages 12 and 13 is fantastic, being a Who’s Who of major characters in the title character’s life. The action that follows is neat, with the fighting skills displayed excellent. Page 18’s reveal is great, with the outcome surprising. I like that there’s no dialogue on these pages, allowing the reader to make what they will of the proceedings. Page 20 is beautiful and 21 is heartbreaking, with the imagery on 22 shocking. The final page of the issue is fantastic. His destiny is solidified in this hellish landscape. Wow. Overall grade: A+

The colors: There are three different colorists credited for this issue: David Curiel, Dono Sánchez-Almara, and Erick Arciniega. Sadly the credits don’t say who is responsible for what pages; I could direct my praise to the appropriate colorist if they were. Vader’s soul is a beautifully bizarre thing, composed of a black trunk with red internal swirls, while his appendages are snow white. Seeing this form tromp across Mustafar’s hell of reds, oranges, and yellows is surreal. The swirl that’s on Shmi’s stomach is a perfectly dark red. The coloring on 5 and 6 is shocking for its normal colors, but they lead again to Vader’s personal hell. The character that’s speaking to Vader has their dialogue in red boxes, making each word or phrase dark. The blacks and reds at the bottom of 12 are shocking, but perfect counterpoints to the luminescent colors in the panel before it. The oranges on 21 are shocking and the reds in the final panel on 22 a damnation. The blues on 23 and 24 are scream worthy for whom they hide. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: VC’s Travis Lanham creates this issue’s text which is comprised of scene settings, sounds, narration, dialogue, yells, and transmissions. The scene settings looked good in this book because the colors within them didn’t blend in with the artwork on colors surrounding them. The narration is creepy for it’s simple look: large and all in lower case. It made even single words terrors. Unfortunately, as always, the thin font for dialogue continues to mar this series and this comic book franchise. Overall grade: A

The final line: Vader goes on a journey to save his love and his future in this finale. The ending is never in doubt, but this climax’s journey is staggering. The visuals are hopeful and damned. This Darth Vader will shock, surprise, and stun you. What an ending! 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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