Sunday, March 1, 2020

Star Wars: Darth Vader #1

Star Wars: Darth Vader( 2019) by Greg Pak and Raffael Ienco

As my continued disappointment with the Star Wars movie universe continues, I have deep dived into the comic book world for continued tales of Skywalker's.  Last month, we read the Kylo Ren book as it took a dive into the unknown time after the failed assasination by Luke Skywalker as untold from the Last Jedi.  This month, we look at an untold tale of Darth Vader which occurs in the events after Luke learns he is Vader's son in The Empire Strikes Back!

As Luke falls off and makes his escape on the Falcon with Lando, Chewbacca, and Leia, we get to see what the next step is for Vader.  While he makes a communication with Luke via the Force in the movie, we do not see Vader again until Return of the Jedi.  This book picks up after that moment as Vader is joined with Death Troopers as they set out to not find Luke Skywalker, but all the people who hid Luke from him and made him weak.

So we are off to Tattoine and, even though I enjoyed this book, this is where I always get a little weird about Star Wars comic books.  As writers look to flesh out the universe outside of our main characters, we get introduced to these wonderfully formed characters in the books who you know have only been created to die.  It creates a dissonance for me when reading the books because I cannot invest emotionally in a character that, if they were that important, woulda made it into one of the 10 Star Wars movies.

On Tattoine, Vader begin the Annakin Skywalker tour and even gets to visit some of his old stomping grounds. We get to see where Clegg Lars and Shimi Skywalker lived and we get the flashback of that scene from Phantom Menace.  The art plays across very little dialogue and is dependent upon the reader having fairly high knowledge of the movies.

The story unfolds through a wacky droid, Zed Six Seven, a Star Wars staple in comics and movies.  Vader sees that Luke grew up in the same house as Anakin did and sees that his son grew up with Owen and Beru Lars and had a similar love for flying and tinkering like Anakin did. We even get a flashback of Padme from Attack of the Clones.

We even get the callback to when Anakin gave into hate and killed the Sand People and gave us our clear path to Anakin becoming Darth Vader. Padme does his best to save him as we saw in the movies but the book draws the parallels of Vader losing Luke and Padme and the emotional toll these events had on Darth Vader.

And remember what I said about the characters introduced to die?  Well, we get two characters who were looking to rob the imperial troopers while on Tattoine.  They get the drop of some empire ships and take shots at Vader.  But when you come for the King, you best not miss.  They did and we get to see Vader use the Force like we only got to see at the end of Rogue One.  And these moments often bother me because we see the Jedi super powerful in the prequels and presented as old me when we get to A new Hope.  So to retcon Vader being this powerful comes off a bit awkward but its still pretty awesome to see.

Of course Vader kills all the Red Shirts( Star Trek reference) and upon leaving Tattoine, Vader and his crew head off to Corusant and the apartment of Padme Amidala as Vader is looking for clues as to who else knew that Padme was pregnant.  Through some flashbacks and finding a tracer droid, Vader and his crew make it to another planet and find Jar Jar Binks protecting a hidden figure as they are attacked by these monster looking creatures. Vader comes in for the safe before we get a secret reveal that we wont spoil here.

Overall, this book was a lot of fun seeing the flashbacks to tie the movies into the book.  Vader, at the time of Empire Strikes Back, was such a mysteriou character, even after the reveal in the movie.  Our watching of the prequels filled in more of the blanks to his origin and there is such more to explore and Pak does a great job laying the foundation built upon the movie foundation.  Good fun, great art, and playing in the pool we already can swim in.  Highly recommended for all Star Wars fans!

The Producer

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