Marvel’s second Star Wars series “Darth Vader” #1 proves the eponymous villain is worth the wait as his commanding presence can be felt on every page, and while the debut issue isn’t as exciting as it could be, it still stands strong on the merits of the character.
WRITTEN BY: Kieron Gillen
ART BY: Salvador Larocca
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
RELEASE: February 11, 2015
Knowing what we know now, there is nothing quite like seeing Darth Vader return to Tatooine to take care of business. His disdain for the planet can be felt with every panel. And throughout the entire first issue Kieron Gillen playfully reminds the reader of the character’s past. He roots the motivation of the story in something we already know but will now play out a different way.
Through the previews at the back of “Star Wars” #1 we already know that Vader comes face to face with Jabba The Hutt in this issue, and their showdown is a welcome one. I couldn’t think of two better characters to go head to head, and no one has proved a more formidable force against the gigantic Hutt.
Salvador Larocca’s art is impeccable at every single turn. His work is cinematic and detailed. Every character has layers to their appearance that speak volumes of the worth they live in. His framing choices make Vader look imposing and without question put the character in control. He compliments John Cassaday’s super realistic style and helps build out Marvel’s Star Wars universe in a unique and bold way.
The storytelling on display here is admirable, because it shows that everyone who was given a chance to play in this galaxy were at the same meetings. It’s a tightly crafted tale that had me pretty giddy in the first ten pages.
Only to stumble a little toward the back half thanks to some truly confusing jumps in time that don’t really add to the story but instead pull us out of what is going on only to remind the reader of what they already knew. Laying the groundwork of the original trilogy is something anyone picking up this comic should be spared of.
Consequently Vader’s plan is a little interesting knowing where the story is supposed to go. It’s interesting to see the character play against The Emperor for his own means and push his own agenda so hard. But, again, Vader is so unquestionably evil by this point that its hard not to have a one-dimensional character. Many stories have handled this well in the past, but here Gillen reduces himself down to retreading old ground.
For a first issue it’s a understandable but ultimately problematic choice. We’re treated to a whole assortment of things we already know, and are forced to see the character exactly as we have in the past. I learned nothing knew about Darth Vader through these pages, and I can’t help but long for something else more compelling to get me to return to issue #2.