Comic Book Review: Darth Vader #2
Marvel’s Darth Vader solo series returns with its second issue in which the Sith Lord takes stock of his now deflated status in the Imperial upper crust, but still manages to use his cunning to intimidate all around him. Keiron Gillen and Salvador Larroca and the rest of the creative team that crafted Darth Vader #2 produced a solid comic, but one that lacks the wow-factor of the debut issue.
The comic begins with an Imperial cruiser attempting to escape space pirates, who are then rescued by Lord Vader in his exclusive rounded tie fighter. Its easy to forget that long before the fallen Jedi turned to the dark side of the force, he was an outstanding fighter pilot. Fans of the cannon know Vader’s skills but it is still excellent to see Gillen showing off some good old-fashioned tie fighter action scenes, only this time, they arn’t getting blasted into dust. The detail and likeness to the source material depicting the varying star cruisers are all done at a very high level. The daunting metallic ship emerging from the gray smoke is so symbolic of the pilot inside (Would there be that much smoke in a space? #StarWarsSaysYes).The comic introduces Vader’s new commanding officer, Grand Admiral Tagge who reminds Vader in a calculated approach that he, and not the Sith lord is top dog on board his Star Destroyer. Tagge maybe recognizable to fans as being on board the Death Star when Vader nearly choked out another admiral for doubting and condescending him in episode IV. In this issue you can feel Darth Vader yearning to do the same and more to Tagge for debasing him, but Vader is no fool, and does what he is told…sort of. What is so great about the interaction between Tagge and Vader is the manner in which they seek to one up each other. For Vader it is the patience in his speech, his search for any misstep and then to exploit it through his intimidation factor. On the contrary it was Tagge who I was delighted to read had the more interesting dialogue. Gillen really hits the nail on the head when he writes Tagge comparing Vader to his lightsaber, a “singular weapon from an older time”. To equate Vader to a dangerous tool without a hand to wield it is both an exploratory notion, making the reader consider Vader’s brutish tactics, but also setting the stage for him to defy this misconception.
The comic losses a bit of steam in the middle as Vader and his newly appointed moderator, Oon-Ai search for the escaped pirates. The plot wasn’t bad and it made sense for early exposition for this series, but it just lacked an engaging focus outside of the narrative need for an opposition. Maybe its just me wanting more progression in Vader’s relationship with the bounty hunters or Palpatine but this mission that Vader was on did not interest me very much.
The art was the high note for this book. Like stated before the likeness to source material is commendable and almost expected, but executed in gorgeous fashion. While some may look at photo referencing or consistent depiction to original as lacking imagination, I see that as a strength. Larroca and colorist Edgar Delgado stick to what the fans want to see, but still use their impressive collaboration of meticulously clean lines and bright, luminous colors to create some very awesome panels. Its not just the idea of how things should look, its that the art is unique to this book, the stretched widescreen panels filled with detail are starting to be the calling card of this series. That and Vader. Scary scary Vader.
Darth Vader proves you can’t control him in this issue, he may serve but he has a purpose. The creative team gets the character and I look forward to the next issue filling readers in and showing just how he will go about that purpose.