Darth Vader Annual #1
By Kieron Gillen, Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Jason Keith
Marvel’s Darth Vader series has done a fantastic job of reminding us why he’s one of the most popular villains of all-time. Saying that Darth Vader is a great character may sound cliché and redundant, but thanks to the prequels’ portrayal of everyone’s favorite dark lord of the Sith, it’s nice to occasionally remind us that things aren’t so bad.
Like last week’s Star Wars Annual, the focus is on the Empire’s iron grip on the galaxy. Darth Vader takes matters into his own hands by travelling to Shu-torun, a planet that needs to be taught a lesson. It appears that this planet’s people are leaning towards rebellion. Obviously, Vader will have none of that nonsense.
Gillen and Yu use a simple plot to show different experience for Vader. It’s definitely a situation that hasn’t been written before. Shu-toren is a planet that appears snobby and steeped in tradition to the point that they try to insist that Vader take part in a ballroom-like dance. It was a blast to see Vader’s reaction. Sadly, our creative team didn’t focus on more of Vader’s anger and loathing for such nonsense, but credit needs to be given for at least giving us a taste.
After that, the issue starts heating up, which fans of this series know is just a nice way of saying Darth Vader is about to murder some fools. However, things aren’t all gloom and doom as Vader’s evil droids (Beetee and Triple Zero) are at his side to offer a more humorous side to all of the torture and death. Despite a lack of characterization and repeating of themes from previous Vader issues, there’s still enough here to appreciate.
Yu makes his Star Wars comics debut, with some really good results. Backgrounds occasionally lack detail, but Yu makes up for it in epic action and splash pages. His Vader is much more about regal poses and powerful action stances, which adds certain flair to the story being told. Jason Keith did a wonderful job of coloring the issue. His uses of bloody reds and darkness tell a tale all by themselves. Come to think of it, both Yu and Keith did enough to tell the story without any dialogue.
If you’re reading Darth Vader or even if you just want a single Vader story to read, you should really pick this up. There’s enough original material to warrant the price of admission. The story that the Vader series is telling isn’t advanced in any way, but we’re fine with that.