In Review: Darth Vader #6

Characters from the films and television series cross paths, revealing the pecking order of the Sith.

The cover: The Grand Inquisitor has his double-bladed lightsaber before him as he stands before the split, and still smoking, helmet of Darth Vader. This cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Francesco Mattina definitely has my attention, because this is a sight I’d not expected to ever encounter. As good as this is, it’s really too dark. Not enough of the character can be seen. Even Vader’s helmet is difficult to distinguish. Cheating on coloring is allowed in comic books, so I’m disappointed that is colored so darkly as to make the artwork unclear. Overall grade: B-

The story: Darth Vader’s life preserving armor is laid out upon a table before Emperor Palpatine who says, “Why, Lord Vader…you have ruined yourself.” Turning to his side, the ruler of known space sees his apprentice floating within the fluids of a bacta tank. Knowing that Vader can hear him, he congratulates the broken man for being successful in his endeavor to get a lightsaber and make it bleed. As he goes to leave the man to heal, he tells him droids will repair his armor in no time. This causes Vader to silently communicate to his master that he wishes to rebuild his armor. “Adjust the suit as you see fit, my apprentice. When you are ready, come to me. There is work to be done.” Alone, Vader closes his eyes and concentrates. Tools begin to swarm around his armor and it is rebuilt as his body mends. This is a creepy beginning to this tale by Charles Soule. The tone continues when the primary tale commences in a different part of the planet. Someone has entered a supposedly secure, off limits building. The Emperor demands that Vader deal with the intruder. I was extremely pleased to revisit this location seen in the films and the character that Vader battles was equally enjoyable to revisit. The battle between the characters is outstanding, with its conclusion on Page 13 outstanding. The appearance of a third character on 14 changes the tone of the book and results in a clarification of the pecking order, as well as a group’s importance to the Sith. The final page left me screaming at the reveal of a character who I hope will appear in the next issue. Every page of this story is fantastic. Overall grade: A+

The art: The visuals of this book are created by Giuseppe Camuncoli on pencils and Cam Smith on inks. The first page is a fantastic full-paged splash of Vader’s empty suit on a table. This is followed by an eerie image of Vader, barely visible in his tank, as the Emperor joyously revels in his student’s accomplishments. Every time Camuncoli and Smith have Palpatine smile it’s disturbing. However, they one up the Emperor in this issue with a close-up of Vader’s eyes while still in his tank. When Vader begins to rebuild his suit on 4, the power at his command comes as a strong reminder to the reader that even in this weakened state he remains all powerful. A large panel on 5, focused on a costume, is a signal to fans where the action is now going commence. The unrevealed intruder shows his anger with a simple gesture at the bottom of the page. When the setting is completely revealed it looks exactly as it did in the films and is glorious. Vader’s sudden appearance is dramatic, as is the reveal of who has entered forbidden grounds. The battle between the pair is exciting, easy to follow, and ends spectacularly. The reactions on the combatant’s face as he realizes he is no match for the Sith Lord make the battle very enjoyable. The change of locations is beautifully rendered atop Pages 16 and 17. The reveal of the characters they are going to visit had me giddy. The final panel on 17 is fantastic for its composition, echoing this character’s appearances in the film and television shows, and for the look on the speaker’s face. The final page shows the last character in the world I thought would be seen again in any form of Star Wars and this individual looks terrific, unaware of what could be soon headed her way. I’m loving the visuals on this book. Overall grade: A+

The colors: David Curiel’s work on this book should be shown to all colorists who work on Marvel’s Star Wars line. He is able to create darkness perfectly without obliterating the art. The first page is reminiscent of a closing scene from Episode III, but every part of the art can be seen. Curiel smartly uses colors to make the environment dark and sinister, but doesn’t do so in sacrificing the art to create this mood. When the lightsaber is ignited at the bottom of Page 2, reds horrifically dominate the panel. Vader’s eyes are a possessed red when he widens them to communicate with the Emperor. The sounds of Vader’s tools as he rebuilds his suit are boldly colored, making their sounds disturbing. The cool blues used in the familiar setting are wonderful, instantly bringing this location to life. The battle in this location uses several shades of strong reds to tremendous effect. Reds and oranges are stunning atop 16 and 17. Curiel is a Jedi Master when it comes to coloring. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, and sounds, the holy trinity of lettering, is VC’s Joe Caramagna’s contributions to this issue. I prefer my Star Wars comics to have lots of sounds, after all the films won several Academy Awards for their sounds, so the books should try to emulate the movies. Caramagna provides several outstanding ones, starting with Vader’s tools and ending with a fantastic battle. This work shows that Caramagna is more than capable of creating awesome sounds, so I hope that writers of this franchise will remember that as they create their stories. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Characters from the films and television series cross paths, revealing the pecking order of the Sith. Superior story and art make this a must-own Star Wars comic. The final page has me extremely concerned for the well being of a Jedi that escaped the purge. 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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