Darth Vader: The Dark Lord of the Sith. He is the most iconic villain in the entire Star Wars universe, if not all of popular culture. Words like menacing, intimidating, foreboding, and powerful come to mind when trying to describe the first time audiences saw him on the big screen. But in Marvel’s killer cross-over miniseries titled Vader Down, his legend is pushed even further. If there was ever any doubt to the might of his powers, it has now been crushed. Darth Vader is nothing short of impressive—most impressive.
Vader Down begins with our Dark Lord coming out of hyperspace in his tie-fighter right above a barren planet called Vrogas Vas. There, he flies directly into a training routine by an X-Wing squadron of Rebels. Vader cuts through the rebels like a lightsaber through a block of cheese until one young hotshot tries to play a little game of chicken with the Sith Lord. That Rebel is Luke Skywalker. Luke and Vader clip one another’s ships and both crash land on the planet below. With Vader down, this is the Rebellion’s greatest shot at taking him out and striking yet another blow to an Empire recently wounded from their loss at the Battle of Yavin. There, on the sandy planet of Vrogas Vas, a six issue duel between Vader, the Rebels, and a few surprising participants takes place.
Vader Down is a terrific six part miniseries. It gives fans exactly what they want—Darth Vader in his iconic black regalia but combined with the abilities of Anakin from the prequel trilogy. Further, it hits all the marks with the original trilogy characters—Han, Chewie, Leia, 3PO, and R2.
Most significantly, this is not an easy story to tell. It flips between two of Marvel’s signature Star Wars series—Darth Vader and Star Wars. Writers Jason Aaron (from Star Wars) and Kieron Gillen (from Darth Vader) work the story seamlessly through their respective comic series. While the artwork is different from the two series, artists Mike Deodato and Salvador Larroca do a superior job keeping the tone consistent while still preserving their own styles.
One of the most impressive parts of Vader Down is that the story delves deep. Its core lies not with the relationship and vitriol between Luke and Vader, but between Leia and the Dark Lord. Leia is out for revenge. She was with Vader on the Death Star as they watched her home planet and all her family destroyed. This is personal and she puts herself in harm’s way to rid the galaxy of Vader once and for all.
The only flaw in Vader Down is that the continuity doesn’t really work. The new line of Star Wars comics by Marvel are official canon. That being the case, the last time we saw Vader wield his lightsaber, he was lumbering around the Death Star with a grizzled Obi-Wan Kenobi, both looking more like two tin soldiers than Jedi. Now, with the events in Vader Down taking place recently after Episode IV, readers see Vader doing what we’d dream he could do in the movies—using his raw skill and mastery of the Force to destroy battalions of Rebels.
But, in the end, perhaps Aaron, Gillen, and the brain trust Marvel felt it didn’t really matter. Disney acquiring Star Wars has proven one thing: they want to keep the audience happy—and giving them Vader in all his glory is exactly what fans want to see. There is so much to enjoy in Vader Down, this little glitch isn’t a big deal—who wouldn’t want to see Vader pull down an Imperial Shuttle from the sky by using only his Force powers? Vader Down is an impressive miniseries and worthy of furthering Darth Vader’s mythos in Star Wars lore.