In Review: Star Wars: Age of Rebellion-Darth Vader #1

Vader is a force to be reckoned with in this awesome finale to this series.

The covers: The final issue in this series sports a Sithy six covers. The Regular cover is by Terry and Rachel Dodson and is a fantastic full figure image of Vader with red weapon lit as he stands before a circular window that contains some familiar Imperial lights, while his feet are covered in an ominous fog. Spectacular image and killer colors. Let’s be honest, when is the visual anything but superior when the Dodsons are creating it? The Concept Variant cover by Ralph McQuarrie features a blue image profile of Vader from the left on a white background. Very cool and one worth tracking down. Next is a Greatest Moments Variant by Gabriele Dell’Otto. This is a strong image of Luke confronting Vader in the tree on Dagobah. The illustration is shown with Luke’s back to the reader, focusing on the reveal of the Sith Lord. Both characters look really good and the roots above Vader give him an ancient dark god feel. The Photo Variant features a bust shot of Vader with his red lightsaber close to his face. I like this, but I don’t understand why he would have that lit weapon so close to his head. The final piece of the Puzzle Piece Variant cover is by Mike McKone and Guru-eFX. Vader’s body is slightly towards the left, but his head and grasping left hand is turned toward the reader. He holds his lightsaber low in his right hand, ready to use if he cannot influence the reader with the Force. Behind him is a red and blue background that when combined with the Puzzle Piece Variant covers of this series creates a large image. Several Imperial shuttles fly from the right to the left behind him. I love this! The final cover is the Variant cover by Tommy Lee Edwards. The Death Star, its massive gun on its lower section, is on a star field of orange and blue. A gigantic Darth Vader has his saber at a right angle in his right hand. His personal advanced TIE Fighter flies from the right to the left in the foreground, firing both its canons. Very nice. Overall grades: Regular A+, Concept Variant A, Greatest Moments Variant A+, Photo Variant A-, Puzzle Piece Variant A+, and Variant A

The story: Above Namzor in the Mid Rim an Imperial Star Destroyer releases several TIEs and they are ordered by Governor Ahr to to bomb the insurgents on the ground. He’s quickly stopped by a underling who tells him that the rebels are bunkered directly over stores of Coaxium. “If we bomb them, or even strafe them, we’ll blow up what we came here for the first place.” Ahr oreders his fighters back, but twin blasts of energy plow the forces below. Ahr yells at the fighter to cease fire, but the Emperor’s Fist, Darth Vader continues his attack, decimating the forces and setting off the Coaxium. Back on Coruscant, Ahr and Vader contact the Emperor via hologram and Ahr voices his displeasure at what the Dark apprentice has done. The Emperor has words for Vader, leaving Vader to respond in the only way he knows how. Pages 7 and 8 only comprise five panels, but they provide the background for the iconic character. On Page 9 the Emperor commands Vader do something for Ahr and that provides the thrust for the remainder of the issue. The reader will catch on quickly what Ahr is doing, but writer Greg Pak makes it very entertaining. The ending of the pair of mini-adventures is never really in doubt and when the third comes up the reader knows how this will conclude. I liked the character of Ahr, I loved Vader’s responses, and the last page is beautiful. An outstanding Vader tale. Overall grade: A

The art: This is my first exposure to work by Ramón Bachs and I want to see much more after this issue. The book opens with a great establishment shot of the Star Destroyer, the TIEs, and the troops on the ground. Without any text the reader would know exactly what’s going to occur. The introduction of Ahr is great; he’s first shown from the back in a stance of power and this is followed by a close-up of his face barking orders for his fighters to stand down. Vader’s entrance on Page 2 is practically a full-paged splash as his ship swoops in among the other fighters to blast its prey. A small panel in the bottom right shows Vader at the controls of his ship and he looks awesome. The Emperor looks fantastic in his appearances, enjoying every one of his words that obviously infuriate Vader. The final two panels on 5 are a terrific build for one action that is revealed to be for something else entirely on 6 — very cool! Pages 7 and 8 have Vader in the bottom center surrounded by four images from his past that led him to the position he now holds. It’s a great visual way to deliver history. The setting of Ahn Krantarium is outstanding — I could have remained at this location for the remainder of the book just to explore this environment. The smile that ends 10 is wonderfully horrible. The full-paged splash on 11 is something every reader wants to see in a book featuring Vader and Bachs does not disappoint. There’s also another full-paged splash on 14 with Vader against seemingly impossible odds and it looks great. Page 17 introduces a new character into the book and this design does not work because it’s too similar to an Earth creature. Granted, I don’t know how it was described in the script and it only appears on two pages, but it’s key to the story, so it should look good. Bachs makes it look fine, but it’s just too familiar. That said, the final page of the book is epic. This is how to end a book and a series! All that’s missing from the page is John Williams’s classic score. I would love to see Bachs return to illustrating Star Wars. Overall grade: A

The colors: An excellent accompaniment to the art are the colors by Stéphane Paitreau. I like the neat looking scene settings that are set off by a cool, Imperial blue. The blaster fire that ends the first page is an instant eye catcher on the page in yellow and light orange, with screams set of in flat red. Vader’s ship has a unique blue shine that the other fighters do not. The interior of Vader’s ship makes its pilot look as though he’s sitting in Hell. The holographic scenes with the Emperor are in movie quality blues. I really like that each of the four images from Vader’s past on 7 and 8 have a unique color to them to make them stand out. The oranges, browns, and tans on Ahn Krantarium give the world a very rusty, very appropriate, feel. The difference between fourth and fight panels on 12 tells the reader what’s occurred before they can fully absorb each image. I absolutely love the oranges in the first panel on 15, creating a funny and utter outrageously cool moment. The colors that backlight Vader on the final page have him stand out spectacularly to end the issue. Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Travis Lanham is responsible for this issue’s scene settings, dialogue and ship transmissions, sounds, and transmissions. The scene settings on this book — this series — are fantastic and I wish that all Star Wars books used them. They are set off by a group’s icon in a metallic box using a strong black font. More, please! In an odd twist, dialogue and ship-to-ship transmissions use the same font, differed only by the shape of the box that contains them. I’m not happy to see this, but it really stood out as an odd choice because when Palpatine speaks via hologram transmission his font is different from dialogue and the shape of his balloon. Why did this happen? Again, really odd lettering choice. Both forms of communication are routed through a machine, so it makes sense that they would look the same visually and be different from spoken speech. The sounds are fun, but blaster fire remains mute. A constant sad occurrence in most Star Wars titles. Overall grade: B

The final line: Vader is a force to be reckoned with in this awesome finale to this series. He only speaks thirteen words in the entire issue, but the characters — and the reader — never forget the power that he wields and it’s shown several times. The visuals are excellent, with me wanting to see more from Bachs in the future. 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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