Ever since movie goers were introduced to Darth Vader they have been captivated by the intimidation, fear, and tragedy his character evokes. Over nearly 40 years this character has grown into a pop culture icon, and is recognizable around the world by both fans of Star Wars and those unaccustomed to the ways of the force. Now debuting in his own solo series under Marvel’s banner Darth Vader #1 drops with a sizable amount of hype behind it, and well, it is most impressive.
The comic begins with the classic Star Wars falling yellow on black intro text, only this time it reads like a propaganda news letter from the empire. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is where Darth Vader wishes he was in this comic. Instead, the fallen Jedi formerly known as Anakin Skywalker finds himself facing the wrath of his Emperor after being held responsible for the destruction of the first Death Star. Taking place between episodes IV and V gives the creative team of Gillen, Larroca and colorist Edgar Delgado an opportunity to explore Vader engaged in a conflict that hasn’t been examined in the prequels or in the original trilogy. Fans of the franchise will be delighted to see several familiar faces appear in this debut issue, all of them expertly drawn. While I knew I would see established Star Wars characters, this is what I anticipated would be the strength and possible flaw of this book; examining Vader’s persona without rehashing the prequels or shattering his mystique that the original trilogy created. To my surprise writer Kieron Gillen is able to depict Vader as both truly villainous and calculating and offer a hint of self- loathing without reusing what fans have already seen. The crux of this issue is Vader’s seething anger at his own demotion of sorts manifesting into deadly fury wherever he goes.