In Review: Star Wars: Target Vader #3

You want bounty hunters in action? You want this book!

The cover: Only one cover to pick up for this issue and it’s by Nic Klein. I can’t tell if Valance is crawling out of the debris of his fallen ship, if Vader is emerging from his, or both their ships have hit the ground. Regardless, there’s fire everywhere as Valance raises his gun at the Sith who has his lightsaber ignited and ready to deflect the bounty hunter’s shot. I think it’s neat that Klein put both characters in the same pose which each having a hand up to steady themselves on some debris. Clever way to make them equal so that it’s anyone’s guess who is better than the other. As with the previous cover, sadly, the colors are dark on my print copy, making it difficult to make the details in Valance. Overall grade: B+

The story: As with the previous issue, the beginning of this issue is a flashback to Valance’s past. He’s been in the Imperial service longer than anyone. He was a pilot that survived being shot of the sky to serving as a grunt on the ground. On an unknown world he and three other troopers are cornered by alien forces. “The Empire saved my family, soldier. If I’m to die for them today…so be it.” Just then an overwhelming squad of armored enemy troops appear. They lower their guns to fire, but their weapons suddenly split into pieces which then impale themselves into the mystified troopers. Walking through the flamesĀ  a figure says, “Rise, troopers. The Empire marches on.” Darth Vader saved their lives so they can continue to fight. This is a fantastic opening by Robbie Thompson. Without question, Thompson is nailing Vader’s character precisely in every issue of this series and he knocks it out of the ballpark in this issue as well. In the present on Heva, Dengar and Hoonah are speaking with an arms dealer named Wef about purchasing some Bot-drones. Hrrr’k is watching from a distance, her rifle nearby if something goes wrong. Chio and Valance join Dengar and Hoonah just before a Star Destroyer appears above them. What follows is an incredible fight in the sky. Vader is directly involved in this battle and it’s epic. I love every character in this issue and what they do. The final page is a brilliant cliffhanger. Since Charles Soule is going to be writing Star Wars when it reboots in January, is it too soon to ask for Thompson to write a new Darth Vader series? Overall grade: A+

The art: Stefano Landini does a great job showing the three different stages of Valance’s life in the employ of the Empire. I really like the second panel with his helmet being transparent so the reader can see it’s him. The explosion that ends the scene reminds me of Han Solo from the Solo movie. With a turn of the page the reader sees that Landini is still having issues with character’s faces, as the colorist has to do a lot of coloring to give Valance depth. Better are the opposing forces that appear in the final two panels. The first two panels on Page 3 will have long term fans instantly recognize what’s occurring. Landini does an excellent job on this. Page 4 is a superior full-page splash showing Vader’s arrival walking through flame with the sky filled with TIE Fighters and a pair of Star Destroyers. This is awesome. The next two pages establish where Chio and Vallance are and whom Dengar and Honnah are speaking with. I like the design of the Bot-drones at the top of 6. Hrrr’k looks awesome and is revealed to the reader in a very cinematic way. The last two panels on 8 is a wonderfully tense way to tease what’s coming the characters’ way. I love how the lead character dominates the next page, but the other character on the page looks horrible. The opening panel on 11 is exciting and I really like how the next panel has the characters drawn at an angle to show their peril. Page 12 is awesome. There is very little text, but plenty of action accompanied by sounds. All that was missing was John Williams music. Page 14 has an excellent explosion and a fantastic smug character that reminded me of Bruce Campbell. The action in the penultimate panel on 15 was fantastic — a rare sight in any Star Wars comic or novel. The next two pages show a tremendous fall and pursuit. Again, there’s very little text and Landini does a very strong job. The last three pages have a character going unknowingly into a position that places him in danger. 19 is fantastic, with bodies in the air (!!!), and that last page has a sensational, scream worthy, final image. I’m still having issues with Landini’s faces at times, but this installment is better drawn than the previous issue. Overall grade: B+

The colors: Because the action of this book takes place low in a planet’s atmosphere, colorist Neeraj Menon gets the opportunity to do ship combat against blue skies and it looks amazing. Before that occurs, the book opens with some neat coloring on Valance’s transparent helmet, several powerful explosions in yellow and orange, some bold red sounds, and a perfect use of black for Vader’s entrance into this issue. This intense color is countered with a turn of page to reveal the soothing greens and blues of Heva. Once again, Valance stands out instantly due to his vivid blue clothes. The general that appears in this issue has a poorly illustrated face, and his colors make him appear as if he was slapped. Things improve when the massive fight begins, with oranges, yellows, and greens being tremendous against an idyllic powder blue sky. I like how the final panel of the issue has a character surrounded by green smoke, giving him a sickly tone. Overall grade: A-

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramanga creates this issue’s text comprised of scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, Honnah’s outbursts, transmissions, and Urrr’k’s unique speech. The scene settings are good, futuristic looking without being hard to read. The dialogue continues to be an issue as it robs anyone of strength when they speak. You can’t justify for me in any way that Vader sounds the same as Chio Fan, yet they have the same font when speaking. Even sadder, the yells are just slightly bolded, lessening their pain when uttered. The sounds are excellent, however. Every blast, explosion, and breath are perfection. I enjoy Honnah and Urrr’k having unique speech that others cannot understand, which is something that should occur more often in the Star Wars universe. Overall grade: A-

The final line: You want bounty hunters in action? You want this issue! This is the best issue yet in this series with a play finally being made to kill Vader, but the Sith doesn’t fall into the bounty hunters’ trap easily. The story is fantastic with each character and action superb. The visuals, especially the battles between the ships are wonderful, though I’m still having issues with humans’ faces. This is Star Wars action at its finest. Recommended. 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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