By Brian Wood, Facundo Percio, Dan Parsons & Gabe Altaeb, with the cover by Sean Cooke.
Star Wars #14 is the latest issue in Dark Horse’s flagship Star Wars series and even with the franchise handing over the reigns to Marvel in the near future Brian Wood is still putting out work at the top of his game and proving why he should be assigned to another Star Wars title once this one wraps up – he’s just that good, with the series really feeling as though it could easily fit in the original movies and really works in a way that appeals to both hardcore fans of Star Wars as well as casual ones who have never experienced tie-in media before. It focuses on the original cast and as a result really works, and with this issue in particular, Star Wars #14 proves why the title is just so great, with the second half of a Darth Vader centric issue that takes a break from the main ongoing arc to deliver a much needed look into one of the most memorable villains of all time.
It’s been too long since we’ve seen this much of Darth Vader in Star Wars comics and thankfully Brian Wood isn’t afraid to shy away from showing us the character in all his glory. Brian Wood presents a good split between keeping the character as the series primary antagonist but still doesn’t fall into the trap of presenting the character as anything less than what we’ve come to expect. He doesn’t suddenly become an anti-hero. He’s a proper villain, and the issue itself really works. It doesn’t over extend the Darth Vader-centric arcs into multiple issues but keeps it swift and simple, showing us an insight into Vader through newcomer Ensign Nanda, who is a welcoming breath of fresh air in the franchise with an interesting character who acts as John Watson to Vader’s Sherlock Holmes. Or, to be more precise – Nanda’s Sebastian Moran to Vader’s Moriarty. It’s a shame that the character isn’t built to be fleshed out into becoming a long-lasting character, but then again this issue would have been somewhat weakened had Nanda started to crop up in more than one issue. She shows how Vader affects pretty much any character that crosses his path, and that nobody remains the same after extended time periods with him.
And Nanda is a perfect example of what happens, with the book exploring the fact that there were heroes on both sides of the war, and the line is not quite split between Good and Evil as the movies seemed to suggest.
If there was one problem with this book then it would be Facundo Percio’s artwork. We’ve seen excellent work in the previous issues from the series regular, Carlos D’Anda, and unfortunately this artwork doesn’t always meet D’Anda’s high standards, with it being a mixed bag in terms of quality and far from consistent. However, Facundo Percio’s panels are still fairly solid and not off-putting, with Gabe Altaeb’s colours being solid as per usual with several amazing pages.
Despite these problems, Star Wars #14 is still a pretty good read. It’s not the best entry in the series yet but the book still serves as a good filler issue, and it’ll be interesting to see where Wood takes the reader with the next arc.