If you were not a fan of Darth Vader, “you will be… you will be.”
What a brilliant read this was!
On screen, Darth Vader is intimidating and ominous. A big reason is because of the legendary James Earl Jones. I can’t think of another actor who equally demands your attention and respect with their voice.
So when picking up a Darth Vader comic, it has to make up for the absence of audio with a story that is both compelling as it is riveting. That is exactly what you get with Darth Vader: Vader.
The comic starts with Vader cowering to the Emperor after a list of events occurred that put the Empire back some big steps. With each problem having Darth Vader as a key component, we know the Emperor is going to have some strong words.
The conversation sparks doubt in both their minds whether they are one hundred percent loyal to each other in their quest to rule the galaxy.
What follows is Vader going on a personal mission, secret from the Emperor, to find out who the rebel pilot is that destroyed the Death Star and who The Emperor has been commuting with behind his back. All the meanwhile building a personal army again.
We meet quirky “Doctor Aphra” – A rogue Archeologist who finds and fixes weapons for private contractors.
Aphra is in support of the Empire but what writer “Kieron” expresses so well is her humanity. She is not a one dimensional character, but rather an Indiana Jones type, who happens to be on the other side of good. There is literally a scene that is obviously in high tribute to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Currently she has a type of hero worship with Vader and her loyalty for the moment is unquestionable. She is willing to die for Vader but would prefer not to.
Given her specialty, her business with Vader is to help find for him a respectable droid army. Along their travels they are also accompanied by two droids who are literally like the evil doppelgänger’s of R2-D2 and C3PO.
The Protocol Droid’s name is “Triple Zero” (0-0-0.) he is sarcastic, evil but such a joy to read. Where C3PO is a wimp who would rather just live his life in an oil bath, Triple Zero enjoys watching the painful cries of his tortured victims.
“BT-1” is a Blastomech prototype but passes as a Astromech (which is what R2-D2 is.) He is a “shoot first ask questions” later droid who says rather little. But whenever he is on the page, expect explosions and laser fire.
Vader’s little group works so well because it mirrors appropriately the Rebel heroes we all know and love, right down to the two droids.
Throughout the story we see glimpses into Vader’s mind. It’s already clear that Darth Vader isn’t all machine. Deep within his subconscious, his memories as Anakin still linger and surprisingly they are having an effect on how Vader is handling the events around him.
He reminds me of famous pirate Blackbeard who became one of the most feared pirates of all time. He knew how to use his brutal reputation to his advantage while often avoiding confrontation all together. He used fear and spectacle to intimidate his enemies and achieve what he wanted. Often times his enemies would surrender without there being a fight.
Salvador’s art is so impressive! Darth Vader’s outfit consists of the colour black… black and black, but he still intimidated the heck out of me while reading. It must be a number of factors; the lighting, the shades, the prospective. All of it together made every scene with Vader intense and thrilling.
One scene in particular has Darth Vader remembering a moment with Padmè. It was an emotional memory and after all we see is a large panel showing an up close shot of a Vader’s mask. It works wonders as it paints the perfect picture of what Vader want the world to see, not of a man in doubt or confusion but a relentless symbol of fear and order.
The ending involving the Emperor was visually impressive but if I am honest, it wasn’t the ending I was looking for. However, this is only Volume 1. There are so many new factors presented within that make up for the lacklustre conclusion. I can’t wait to learn what will become of Doctor Aphra!
Overall the comic was a joy to read! I luckily have Volume 2 right next to me to get into which is what I will do right now.