By Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, David Curiel
A new beginning for Darth Vader comes to us in this brand-new relaunched series from the creative team of Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith and David Curiel who are on scripting, pencilling, inking, and coloring duties, respectively. Whilst the first Darth Vader series since Marvel reclaimed the rights to Star Wars was penned with great success by Kieron Gillen and took place in the original trilogy era, this first issue takes us back directly to the aftermath of Revenge of the Sith, in the days following the execution of Order 66, the death of the Jedi and the emergence of Vader himself.
The very first panel literally picks up right after Vader walks with his armor for the first time. We get to see more of his reactions and what Sidious said to him in those moments, exploring their relationship to create an interesting dynamic of master and apprentice. The flashbacks to the events from Revenge of the Sith are used sparingly and it’s great to see a nod to Vader’s life that came before. It’s rare that in the new canon, Clone Wars aside, that the expanded universe has actually delved this close to the timeline presented in The Clone Wars , so even though this happens in its aftermath, the ideas presented here by Soule are full of promise even if there are plenty of issues to tackle at the same time with this book.
However, not every issue is perfect and Darth Vader #1 does have some flaws. For all the scenes here that we get we don’t really get enough character-growth for Vader himself. Much of the scenes are largely told with Palpatine in mind and as a result, we don’t really get a proper insight into what he’s thinking. In a Vader-centric issue, Vader, not Palpatine needs to be the main focus, and he feels overshadowed. The slow pace of the book itself doesn’t really help with this approach either, and it could have been structured a lot more effectively than it was.
You’ve also got to wonder; do we really need another Darth Vader series? He’s popular, sure, but Gillen’s run was so good and at the moment at least, Charles Soule’s doesn’t quite deliver as anticipated. A focus on other key figures such as Dooku or even Revan and Thrawn would have been welcomed, but it seems for the most part Marvel is determined to keep its eye on Vader, which feels like wasted potential given there is a wealth of content in the Star Wars universe to explore. At least, as mentioned above, the era is different. Beyond that, there’s not much to help make it stand out story-wise.
The artwork from Amazing Spider-Man regular Giuseppe Camuncoli is great for the most part and one of the book’s saving graces. The rise of Emperor Palpatine is portrayed in all its fantastic detail, and combined with the colors from David Curiel and Cam Smith’s inks, the book really shines. It feels right at home in the Star Wars universe and captures the tonal transition from being in the middle of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope very well indeed, and it’ll be interesting to see as we continue to reach towards the timeline of the original trilogy how the differences in tone adjust. The colors fit the atmosphere perfectly and seeing Vader unleashed towards the end of the issue is great, especially in a new way that is different from how we normally see Vader in comics. Giuseppe Camuncoli really gets the chance to show his skills to the best of his ability and if this first issue is anything to go by, we can expect some really awesome Vader scenes in the future.
Whilst Darth Vader #1 may not have gotten off to the best of starts, the involvement of Giuseppe Camuncoli on artistic duties really makes this issue worth a read. Given that it is still early stages and Charles Soule’s previous series have been mostly excellent, there is always a chance that this book can get better. When it does, it could turn into a really exciting Darth Vader run. For now, we’ll just have to wait and hope for the best.