Darth Vader #1 (Comics Review)

As part of its bid to “revitalize” the Star Wars franchise, having recently acquired it from George Lucas, Disney last month launched a new Star Wars comic that resets the entire comics-verse established by Dark Horse Comics to just the six movies, the ongoing Star Wars: Rebels show, and something else that I can’t quite recall. The new comic is set in-between the original movie and its sequel, and it follows on from what the Rebels and the Empire did in the intervening time. It was a somewhat better comic than I expected, but also of a letdown in some ways.

So I was expecting this past week’s Darth Vader #1 to be different and be better, but I had my doubts about it since Kieron Gillen’s writing is extremely hit-and-miss for me, which the writer proves yet again with this issue. The artwork here is actually pretty good, which you expect from a team that boasts of Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado, but the writing definitely did NOT impress me, and it is frankly one big mess that I really didn’t get. Plus it seems to show Darth Vader and the Emperor both as very petty and one-sided characters, which didn’t help things.

Darth Vader 001I will flat out say this right now: Darth Vader is one of the greatest villains in fiction. In my experience, there are very, very few villains who have as much of a frightening effect on me as Darth Vader does. Especially once you get started with all the background developed for him over the years by the many novels and comics that have been put out about him or dealing with him. Except Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader, that wasn’t so good actually, though it certainly had an… effect.

And so, my expectations of this book were quite high. More so given the high price-tag of $4.99 for this. Sure, you get some 10 pages or so of extra content as well, all of it relevant to the story at hand, but in truth the high page-count doesn’t gloss over the fact that Kieron Gillen doesn’t really seem to understand either Darth Vader or Jabba the Hutt or the Emperor as characters. He seems to have this fixed idea in his head that they are meant to behave a certain way and so he doesn’t really explore who and what they are.

Which is pretty disappointing actually.

Jabba the Hutt uncharacteristically antagonizing Darth Vader and provoking a deadly response from him? Darth Vader himself acting like a pompous arrogant fool who thinks he owns the galaxy? The Emperor as a petty ruler who is more concerned with putting blame on others rather than being the quite and manipulative figure in the background? Eh, totally not my thing. So it isn’t really a revelation to say that I didn’t enjoy this book from a narrative aspect.

And then there’s the whole thing that the whole arc Gillen sets up with Darth Vader and Jabba the Hutt doesn’t really come to a satisfactory conclusion and that it feels more as if he just strung two separate stories together, the one forementioned, and the whole thing with the former character explaining to the Emperor what happened on Yavin and with the Death Star. I really don’t get why Darth Vader did what he did. It just seems so… petty and very unlike Darth Vader. He doesn’t take revenge quite so… obviously. He is methodical about it, cold and calculated. He forces his enemies to make a mistake and then give him an opening.

Not really sure where this is all heading, but this nowhere near what I expected, and I think I might drop this after a couple more issues unless things improve dramatically.

Salvador is the artist here with Edgar Delgado on colours, VC’s Joe Caramagna on letters and Adi Granov on the cover. Adi’s cover is great as always, and I love his composition with Vader in action-mode. And the internal art is definitely impressive as well. Salvador and Edgar have a good understanding of the characters. The only thing that I didn’t like so much was that some of the action felt too… posed, as if the artists were trying to capture some scene from the movie, or some action style or something, and it doesn’t look quite right. Looks really awkward actually, and this is common for Vader’s lightsaber scenes.

Not a good start at all.

Rating: 4.5/10

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Posted on February 16, 2015, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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