Rating: 5/5 – Breathing New Life Into an Iconic Villain.
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
Marvel is two for two in my book when it comes to successful releases in their relaunch of the Star Wars franchise. Darth Vader is the second ongoing series from Marvel set in the same time period as the main Star Wars movie, right after the events of Episode IV. This series also ties in closely with the self titled Star Wars series, even referencing specific moments from that story a couple times within this first issue, giving this franchise relaunch a more cohesive and united feel. Writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca have given new life to one of the most iconic characters in pop culture history in Darth Vader number one.
Salvador Larroca has had his share of skeptics over the years as his style at times can be too realistic, with some really obvious photo referencing at times. Here he takes those references and creates a world that looks as though it leapt off the screen in the best way possible. After the iconic title crawl, we’re taken to Tatooine where Darth Vader pays a visit to Jabba the Hutt. Larroca uses a wide panel layout throughout the entire issue, only mixing it up with a few splash pages scattered throughout. That choice makes the art feel cinematic, and creates some truly memorable images. The closeups of Vader are wonderful and eerily sinister, and the colors by Edgar Delgado help to capture that “movie” feel, all the way down to the reflection in Vader’s helmet. This is Larroca at his best and it’s clear as to why he was the chosen artist for this important title.
As for the writing, we don’t see Vader in a lot of action, but we see a more thoughtful and curious Vader which makes the story that much more entertaining. Vader is given a mission by Palpatine to meet with Jabba, but we also see they dynamics of the relationship between the two Sith lords. This is a Darth Vader who is firmly controlled by the Emporer. We saw hints of this within the movies, but writer Kieron Gillen takes it one step further. Vader is a weapon to be used by Palpatine, and he’s clearly not on the same level as his master. The dialogue towards the end of this issue read marvelously, showing that Gillen has a great feel for the characters.
With a couple more series to be released (Princess Leia and Kanan, the Last Padawan) I’m looking forward to seeing how Marvel expands the franchise, hopefully maintaining the quality of the first two books. Although I loved the first issue of Star Wars, I found this premiere issue to be even more enjoyable and that’s saying a lot. The cinematic art, as well as the writing that is true to the characters involved have made for another fantastic first issue, and it seems as though the Star Wars Universe is in great hands at Marvel.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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