Darth Vader #1 – Vader Strikes Back

Reader Rating5 Votes
The Dark Side
Gives us the Vader we deserve
Incredibly cohesive with the main Star Wars series
Still great independently
The Light Side
Makes watching Hayden Christensen in the Prequel Trilogy all the more painful
Gillen's name is misspelt as Keiron

Marvel’s just knockin’ it outta the park aren’t they?

Coming in just a month after Star Wars #1 and a week after #2, the first issue of Darth Vader picks up and ties-up plot threads from not only the original Star Wars movie, but also the aforementioned comic.

Related: The Force is Strong with Star Wars #1

Offering a more comprehensive look at the events following the Star Wars issues, Vader deftly shifts between the fallout of the Death Star’s destruction during the Battle of Yavin and the humiliating consequences he has faced since, mostly at the hands of his own master, Emperor Palpatine.

Most significant, however, is Vader slowly beginning to realise that the young rebel he encountered in the trenches of the Death Star may be more than just a lucky, pilot in an X-Wing. Coupled with the revelation of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s mentorship of a random farmboy, Vader’s on the path towards uncovering the truth of his supposedly dead child(ren).

Kieron Gillen (Uncanny X-Men, Thor) capably handles the characterisation of Vader as the scenes switch between the Dark Lord of Sith at his most fearsome to his being reminded that he is still but an apprentice to an even greater, and darker, power.

Even more impressive is Gillen’s ingenious use of scenes from the movie to not only enforce the conflicts experienced by Vader, but to also offer his perspective of the movies to readers. While I am looking forward to original stories that are independent of the movies’ plots, this alternative take adds a lot more to the fall, and eventual redemption, of Anakin Skywalker.

Complementing this angle of story-telling, is Salvador Larroca’s (Invincible Iron Man, Fantastic Four) art. While his pencilled work (paired beautifully with Edgar Delgado’s colours) captures everything from the sandy landscape of Tatooine to the dank mood of Jabba’s palace perfectly, the true brilliance of his skills comes through during Vader’s flashbacks to scenes from the movie.

Much like John Cassaday’s work in the Star Wars series, Larroca uses cinematic panels to great effect, smoothly blending the action between scenes adapted from the movie and its sister-comic with its own sequences.

Marvel’s Star Wars editorial team has clearly gone to great lengths to ensure a consistent visual flavour between its titles while still allowing the artists’ sufficient autonomy of style.

Related: Star Wars Returns Home With 20 Connecting Covers

Unlike the Star Wars series, which was somewhat less engaging due to my knowing the ultimate fates of the characters, Darth Vader #1 paints a scenario where you are more interested in knowing the journey of the character towards his moment of glory in the iconic Empire Strikes Back as opposed to a conclusion.

If anything, the greatest strength of this series may just be that you find yourself rooting for the bad guy.