By Keiron Gillen, Salvador Larocca & Edgar Delgado
The ninth issue in what is arguably Marvel’s best Star Wars book on shelves at the moment continues the strong form of Keiron Gillen and Salvador Larocca’s series as Vader’s new mission for the Empire puts him at odds with his own personal one, forcing the Dark Lord to make a choice. The issue once again hits home with a powerful Star Wars feel, capturing the tone and atmosphere of the franchise very well as one would expect. Vader’s just pulled off a heist where he can now finance his operations to find his long-lost son, which would inevitably lead to the events of The Empire Strikes Back, so it’s good to see that Gillen is laying the foundations there.
The chilling opening sequence takes Vader to the ice world of Anthan 13 where a group of Rebels find themselves pitted against the Dark Lord and they believe they’re incredibly lucky to find him on his own, half convinced it’s an opportunity too good to be true, and it has to be a trap. Of course, they don’t know that he’s just as good on his own as he is with others, and the Rebels are no match for Vader. The atmosphere created in that scene is remarkably tense and might be reminiscent of Paul S. Kemp’s Lords of the Sith, where the rebels believe Vader and the Emperor will be easy enough targets when they’re cut off from the rest of the Empire, and that actually assassinating them is an accomplishable goal. However, history tells us different, and Vader isn’t going to meet his end until The Return of the Jedi.
At the same time, Vader also has to deal with Inspector Thanoth. Naturally, he isn’t too happy about this, but at the same time has not yet realised that Vader pulled off the heist in the first place. This should make an interesting revelation for when he inevitably does, and by the looks of things, Palpatine’s also in the dark about this as well, so there’s plenty of potential there for greater stories down the line.
The artwork from Larocca as usual is pretty great, and the pencils are fantastic, particularly when capturing Vader himself in all his glory, against the various locations in particular. The stunning backdrop of the planets like Anthan 13 and more are brought to life incredibly well by the colours of Edgar Delgado, who adds another great layer of detail to the book, helping the space scenes , particularly the establishing panel early on for Anthan Prime’s Orbital Dockyard, standout.
However, as good as Darth Vader #9 is, it’s not quite perfect. The pace is a little inconsistent, but on the whole, this reviewer really enjoyed this book. It’s another good entry to Marvel’s Star Wars Universe and shows that Gillen is steering Vader on a positive path towards the events in Empire Strikes Back, and with Larocca and Delgado bringing some superb pencils and colours to the table, if you’re a Star Wars fan, chances are, you’re more than likely going to enjoy the hell out of this issue.