What makes Darth Vader so great? Is it the aura of pure menace & terror? Origin? Great character design? For me, and I think many more agree on this, it’s all of the above. Darth Vader is a true badass, a personification of evil, the nightmare of the Rebels, devil of the stars. Yet, the original trilogy don’t show a lot of what I boast. Don’t get me wrong, Darth Vader had his moments in the films. Such boasting of character wouldn’t exist if the original presentation of the character didn’t show such dread to who he sees. Yet I felt that there was still so much potential for more villainy.
But where could I find this potential? Like an answered prayer, Darth Vader, written by Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine, Young Avengers) illustrated by Salvador Larroca (Invincible Iron Man, X-Men: No More Humans) with colors by Edgar Delgado (The Amazing Spider-Man, Superior Spider-Man) came on the shelves last February 2015. I subscribed to the comic series ASAP, and the money has been well worth it. If you’re interested in getting Darth Vader (which is not a bad idea) but you don’t want to go back all the way, I’ll help you get back on track. If not, and you want to jump into the fray, that’s fine too and is much more worth it. Spoilers ahead if you check the issue reviews!
It is a period of unrest in the galaxy. The Sith Lord Darth Vader, enforcer of the Galactic Empire, has learned that it was Luke Skywalker who was the rebel pilot responsible for blowing up the Death Star. Vader is now more determined than ever to track down his son and turn him to the dark side.
Luke, unaware that Vader is his father, fights against the Empire with the Rebel Alliance. New to the ways of the Force, Luke has discovered the journal of Ben Kenobi and has begun investigating any information he can on the Force-using Jedi Knights and their ways.
Through the underworld sources of his secret ally, Dr. Aphra, Vader has received word of Luke’s location—the former Jedi temple on the planet Vrogas Vas.
Enter Vader Down, the biggest Star Wars comic crossover so far. The story is written by Jason Aaron & Kieron Gillen, both of who are amazing writers, and illustrated by Salvador Larroca & Mike Deodato, also both who are unbelievably talented in drawing. Gillen & Larroca continue to partner for their Darth Vader series, while Aaron & Deodato team up for the Vader Down one-shot and the Star Wars comics. I will not be spoiling important information in this part of the series as I want you, dear reader, to go and read the comics yourselves. I will instead give a review as spoiler-free as possible, and it’s up to you to whether or not you will buy these issues.
However, having read the whole Vader Down crossover, it might be harder to understand where all the new characters are coming from if you’re gonna buy Vader Down and skip the Darth Vader issues 1-12. It’s not exactly new-reader friendly, since it doesn’t have the time to introduce all of them. It’s much better to read the Darth Vader issues as a whole before getting into this. Or you could just simply read my reviews on the previous links! Again, if you’re willing to go jump into the fray of Vader Down without knowing the background of some characters, that’s up to you. It still makes for an entertaining read, new reader or not.
I guess that while we do know what happens to these characters since they’ll be alive in Episode V of the Star Wars trilogy, these comics provide us knowledge on how they got there. That’s basically what the purpose of these comics are for: to show us new stories in between old tales. I want to give credit to Kieron Gillen & the team of the Darth Vader series for being able to make an already terrifying character more terrifying, and even managing to make readers sympathize with this classic villain. To be able to show such depth of Vader without even showing his inner monologue must’ve been hard work. In fact, to break a character like Vader down to be able to sympathize with him without destroying the image of his menacing aura must’ve been harder to do! But the team knew what they were doing and so that’s why I think they truly deserve more readers. Of course, some of these issues are too short, and having to wait month after month for every issue was such a hassle. It is definitely much more worth it to read a couple of comics for one long time than waiting per month for each issue.
Comics may seem difficult to get into but it’s actually quite as easy as finding a book. Especially with the internet today, following comic websites or pages on social media give access to the trending comics, and so give access on what you’d like. Not all comics are full of superheroes, and it’s not true that stories in comics don’t have depth. I’ve gotten as much influence from comics as I did from books, and I can say so myself that I’ve grown up quite well. Sure, not all fans are welcome to new readers, but it’s the same thing with books anyway! You can even walk up to a comic store and ask what could be a good read for a new reader like you. If lucky, a fellow customer may even help you out. We’re not all that bad.
Anyway, back to the Vader series. The Darth Vader series, from #1-15, has really made an impact on me for its storytelling. It was sometimes slow, but it always builds up to something much greater and it only got better every issue. Issues 16 of Star was and Darth Vader 16 are already out so you can get to your nearest comic book store and head there!
As a whole, I’d rate the series a solid 8.8 out of 10, Vader Down with 9/10. It’s quite rare for me to root for a villain like Darth Vader, but I do anyway, thanks to this series. I was able to find the potential for more villainy in this series, and the art’s illustrated quite well. I can’t wait for what Gillen & Larroca has in store in the future.