In Review: Darth Vader #8

Vader shows restraint as he's hot on the trail of Jocasta Nu.

The cover: Free from his costume, which floats behind him, whether from the lack of gravity or the Force, Vader’s back is to the reader as he mediates before a fiery world. This cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Francesco Mattina is really dark, with the bottom third of the image containing objects that are not identifiable. I know that it’s his life-preserving armor, but I can’t make them out. Vader is also really dark. Lightening this up would have helped considerably. The image accompanying this review is considerably brighter than the physical copy I purchased. Overall grade: C

The story: In the Emperor’s chambers on Coruscant, Vader is Force choking an Imperial colonel whose division isn’t running up to Palpatine’s level of performance. Releasing the man on the Emperor’s orders, the man leaves the Sith, with the master stating, “My friend, at times I think you might kill every being in the galaxy.” He offers some advice to his apprentice that will undoubtedly be key to this story by Charles Soule. The story then moves to the former Jedi Temple, specifically the library, where Jocasta Nu has emerged from a hidden stairwell in a statue. She looks around, the first time she has been in the building since Order 66 and says, “It was…It was so beautiful here.” Her comlink goes off and it’s her artoo unit. It’s contacting her because the hanger where he’s located, along with her starfighter, has been discovered by a group of Imperials. She has to change her plans with the droid and something major occurs. Page 6 was a good shock, but this is not an isolated action, as it leads to two characters having to work together, but that last word is used very loosely. Pages 10 and 11 show something new to this series, with the Sith Lord doing something that’s not been shown before. As cool as this is, where Jocasta Nu ends up within the temple is fantastic. I especially like that only she sees this location for the entire issue, leaving it hidden to the villains. Pages 16 – 18 have some incredible lines of dialogue that are just simmering with tension that increases with every panel. The final two pages will leave the reader screaming, as the worst sin occurs in 19’s final panel, with the final illustration of the book scream worthy. This is an excellent read. Overall grade: A+

The art: The combination of Giuseppe Camnucoli on pencils and Daniele Orlandini on inks continues sensationally. The opening page’s close-up of the disgusting smile on the Emperor’s face leads to a larger panel of Vader choking the Imperial. The view outside the Emperor’s quarters is lush, with the fifth panel on 2 great. Jocasta Nu greatly resembles actress Alethea McGrath, which makes her scenes in this book extremely realistic. The largest panel on Page 6 was shocking and left me shaken at its dramatic action. The individual that Jocasta sees also looks great and I love how he’s so involved in what he’s doing he doesn’t see her. Pages 10 and 11 are the two pages that the hardcore Star Wars fans are going to talk about: Vader is shown doing something from an unusual point of view and it’s awesome. I’m glad there was no dialogue on these pages so the reader really has to soak in what’s before him or her and figure out what is exactly being shown. The progression of actions on 12 makes this character absolutely dynamic. Pages 14 and 18 tease so much, but the story demands that Camnucoli and Orlandini move on — I hope the pair get to return to this locale. The action shown in the final panel on 19 is funny and horrific, and the reader should pay close attention to the bust closest to the character, who resembles someone immensely important in Star Wars history. The final panel of the page is flat out awesomeness that finally shows librarians to be the bad asses they are. I’m in love with this book’s visuals. Overall grade: A+

The colors: For all the dark and gray colors in this book, colorist David Curiel does a sensational job in keeping all the art clearly shown while maintaining the familiar hues of the Star Wars saga. For example, the first two pages are in the Emperor’s quarters with three characters in dark clothes. However, Curiel highlights each so well, no individual becomes a blob on the page. Praise should also be given to the wonderfully grotesque flesh on Palpatine. The large panel on 6 is explosive with the use of orange and yellow being stunning. The coloring on 10 and 11 will give plenty of fans on the net something to discuss, with the whites being very smartly located. The reflected light in the fourth panel on 12 is excellent, making the image photorealistic. The luminescent blues the library are also incredibly photorealistic. Curiel is bringing a high level of reality to this book with his work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna is responsible for creating dialogue, scene settings, droid speech, and sounds. My dislike of the dialogue and scene setting fonts continues, but I do like the droid speech, both kinds, and the sounds. I’ve wanted Caramagna to be allowed to create a very specific sound in the Star Wars comics and he does so on the last page and it looks fantastic. This needs to be allowed into this line of comics more often, like on Page 12 of this book. The sounds are great throughout, as there are several actions that require them. A mixed bag for the letters this month. Overall grade: C+

The final line: Vader shows restraint as he’s hot on the trail of Jocasta Nu. The characters are written sensationally and the visuals are outstanding. This Darth Vader is fantastically frightening. 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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