Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Darth Vader #1
Gillen, Larroca & Delgado
Marvel launches their second Star Wars related titled, “Darth Vader.” Darth Vader is a character that a ton of writers (comics and books) have tried to capture but usually ends up bringing nothing new to the table for the character. He seems to be a character that writers just can’t bring to life outside of the movies. This comic book provides a lot of action and is accessible to any fan but will leave something to be desired if you are a reader that has already sampled your share of Darth Vader stories over the years. This is worth checking out despite the five-dollar price tag.
The comic has three components to it. Vader deals with Jabba in his arena, Vader gets scolded by the Emperor and Vader cuts himself a side-deal with a certain underworld character. Again, there is nothing new here but the execution brings something interesting to the table and depending on how you view Darth Vader you may love this comic book.
I struggled with the Jabba scene. The point of the scene is to juxtapose Vader’s entrance to Jabba’s palace against what Luke did in Return of the Jedi. From a comparison perspective the scene is done perfectly. Vader’s dealings with the guards, with Bib Fortuna, with Jabba and the trap door. The main problem is Vader’s character is completely out of place. From the original trilogy, Vader only draws his lightsaber when he fights another Jedi. Even when shot at by Han Solo he keeps the thing on his belt. Outside of two of his officers, the only non-Jedi he kills is the guy he interrogates in the beginning of the first film. This idea that Vader wanders into a place and begins to cut everyone to pieces doesn’t make any sense with what we know of Vader. If you want to counter that the prequels have him butchering Tuskens, Jedi and Separatists I would counter that those actions were when he was younger and much more raw. This comic is set in the original trilogy era and should keep within how he acts during those films. This isn’t the first comic book that portrays Vader this way but it is a trap that too many of these Vader stories fall into. If you like action it does make for a cool scene though.
When Vader deals with the Emperor the comic book hits on all cylinders. The Emperor scolds Vader and works his manipulation to perfection. The Emperor manages to poke Vader enough to get a reaction out of him, but turn him towards a task that should help him regain favor should he succeed at the same time. The only misstep is when Vader questions the Emperor about the other characters in the room. In no incarnation of movie trilogy would this have occurred. Gillen or the editors should have caught that line.
The back part of the book is a little ridiculous. Part of the problem is the first half of the book shows how dominating Vader is with Jabba. Why is he so timid with the underworld character? Think of how Vader deals with Lando. Why doesn’t he choke him? He doesn’t really need him. With Jabba he gets tough, with this underworld character he goes soft, just as he did with Lando. It makes the Jabba scene out of character. The book ends, with once again, Vader slaughtering a bunch of characters, which doesn’t line up with how he behaves in Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back. However, the comic book wants to shock and awe and dazzle with images and it succeeds here.
The artwork is good. The art is at it’s best when it details Jabba and the Emperor. Those characters are depicted to perfection. Vader seems to be a character that is impossible to render consistently on paper and that proves to be true here unfortunately. It doesn’t hinder the visuals but it is noticeable.
“Darth Vader” is not a classic book. This issue falls into a lot of the pitfalls that previous Darth Vader comics have hit. There is plenty of action, but poor characterization of Vader as they pertain to the films. The book plays well with some characters but poorly towards others. Many readers will probably find this to be a fun read but nothing terribly memorable. Give it a shot. You might love it.
3 out of 5 Geek Goggles