By Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini, and David Curiel
“The Dying Light Part II” continues as it puts an unlikely character in the forefront for much of this issue, balancing the narrative between its titular character and Jedi archivist, Jocasta Nu. The fact that this book is set so soon after Order 66 allows Soule to tell this tale, set early enough that Darth Vader is a stranger to most of the Imperials. He hasn’t quite reached the level of fame and terror that he will spread across the galaxy, to the point where the Imperial Major who he’s working with is only letting him stay there as a courtesy. The Major referring to Vader as “Someone new. I’ve never heard of him. Strange name,” is interesting as we get to see what the attitude of the common officer at that time would have had to someone like Darth Vader being there, and it marks a change from the stories that have been told in the past where he’s at his peak.
The decision to focus on Jocasta Nu is an interesting one and helps bridge the gap between the prequel series and the original trilogy since she was a character who appeared in Attack of the Clones. Here, she’s left cornered, boxed in and heavily outnumbered without the aid of any Jedi, all of whom have been hunted down. It looks like the odds are severely stacked against her, but you know someone with her experience is going to go down fighting. She’s up against Vader who is so ruthless at this point, the Emperor has to remind him that he doesn’t want to rule over a galaxy where everyone is dead, so tells him to loosen up his act a little. This is a chilling tone-setter to the issue.
However, there are a few problems with Darth Vader #8 and they mainly come in the form of the plot which doesn’t actually progress significantly. Character development is thrust to the center here and the book doesn’t include as much action as Vader fans might have been hoping for. That may be a bad sign for some, but what character work is done here, is done really well and more than makes up for what we’ve lost.
The artwork from Giuseppe Camuncoli on pencils, is fantastic as usual. A page where a starfighter explodes is wonderfully drawn, with some great inks provided by Daniele Orlandini whilst David Curiel brings his A-game to the colors. It’s the meditation scene that’s easily the highlight of this issue and features the best out of the artists, really capturing the audience’s attention. It’s something that elevates the comic to a near must-read status, which is one of the best single scenes in the entirety of the series so far.
Putting Vader and Jocasta Nu front and centre, Vader #8 manages to balance both characters well and does a good job at making them both compelling figures. Both are handled differently and the set-up in this issue should make for a good resolution in the third part should they eventually come to blows.