In late 2012, The Walt Disney Company purchased all things Lucasfilm. As a result, Star Wars comics moved from its cozy home at Dark Horse Comics over to Marvel. The move made perfect sense from a business standpoint – Disney now owned the rights to all things Star Wars as well as owning Marvel Comics. Why farm out your comic books to another business when you can do it yourself? Thus, Star Wars was back with its original comic home – Marvel.
While this changeover led Star Wars fans into the great unknown, there was also an air of excitement with the return to Marvel. Not only would there be a monthly Star Wars issue, there also would be mini-series following some of our favourite characters. Marvel has put out series following the exploits of Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Lando, Han – even Poe Dameron has found his own comic series.
But all those (aside from Poe’s series, which seems to have no end), were a limited series of five issues. It took the Dark Lord of the Sith to warrant a 25 part series (plus an annual for good measure). In the early months of 2015, Darth Vader #1 hit comic stands, setting the table for the Dark Side to finally get its due in monthly instalments. The Darth Vader series is at its best when it connects to the Original Trilogy. It drops a level when new characters emerge – with only a hand full being memorable.
The best news about the Darth Vader comic run is – this is all canon. With all the Star Wars comics released by Marvel, they must now all link in with the Original Trilogy, Prequels, Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons and Episode VII and beyond. With Dark Horse Comics and even the first run of Star Wars comics with Marvel, they were all stories that never were meant to be deemed gospel.
Now that’s changed.
That’s what makes reading Darth Vader so appealing. Not only do fans get an entire series devoted to arguably the greatest fictional villain ever created, but this is also all fitting into a bigger puzzle. There is more meaning behind each panel, each script. Series writer Kieron Gillen does a terrific job not only bringing our favourite Sith Lord to life, but also keeping things fresh without messing with the plots of the Original Trilogy. Series artist Salvador Larroca gives readers a Vader reminiscent of the films, an essential element in bringing fans right into that timeline.
The Darth Vader comic series begins after the events of Episode IV, and follows Darth Vader’s pursuit of the young rebel who blew up the Death Star. It also deals with Vader’s interworking with both the Emperor and the military elites in the Empire.
If you ever wanted to see behind the Empire’s curtain, this is the series for you.
Some notable Issues in the Darth Vader Run:
Darth Vader #1: This issue not only kicks off the series, but it’s one of the best. Vader, Jabba the Hutt, Boba Fett – could you ask for anything more? Here, we are presented with classic Vader: calm, stoic and ruthless. But we also get to know his precarious interactions with the Emperor. Let’s just say Palpetine isn’t the most encouraging mentor one could have.
Vader Down: This is a six part mini-series which crossed over with the regular Star Wars comic series as well. Check out my earlier review for details. Vader Down takes the Darth Vader series to its peak – showing readers just how powerful and mighty this Sith Lord truly can be.
Darth Vader #24: This issue has Vader literally on his knees. In his mind, he travels back into the prequels – to his hatred for Obi-Wan and his love for Padme. For someone who doesn’t have as much malice for the prequels as many other Star Wars fans, it’s was refreshing that Gillen brought prequel events to the forefront nearing the series’ crescendo.
There are also a few notable characters in the series, as well. The two killer droids, Triple-Zero and Beetee, are fantastic. They are the doppelgangers of R2 and 3PO and offer a sick bout of dark humour throughout. Dr. Alpha, Vader’s secret ally, is another strong surprise. Here’s to all three making a return to Star Wars comics sometime in the future.
In the end, all Star Wars fans reading the entire Darth Vader comic series will find something to enjoy. Whether it’s Vader slicing through Gamorrean Guards in the first few panels of issue #1, to besting Grand General Tagge at series’ end, there is enough in the 25 issues for all to fall for Lord Vader once more.