By Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini & David Curiel
Darth Vader #14 picks up where the Burning Seas arc began, focusing on an invasion of Mon Cala spearheaded by Vader and his troops. The book set up the fallout in diplomacy last chapter and continues the escalation into full-scale war in the second, putting Vader front and centre of it as he attempts to stop the mysterious being who knows Vader’s true identity as Anakin Skywalker.
Writer Charles Soule has been absolutely killing it with the Darth Vader series so far and this issue is no different. Soule takes time to flesh out the aquatic people of Mon Cala, delving into its structure and how it operates, namely what obstacles need to be taken down so the Empire can emerge triumphant. One of these obstacles just so happens to be the hidden Jedi that survived Vader’s massacre, and this really helps add an extra incentive to Star Wars fans who want to learn more about them. Obviously, we know that Obi-Wan, Yoda and Kanan are three that survived, but there are those who share different views to the three and it’s helped by the high stakes that come from being so early in the Empire’s reign of terror. Ackbar isn’t part of the Rebellion yet, and the book serves as a good reminder as to the fact that it wasn’t easy going for Vader even though most of the Jedi were taken out in Order 66.
The artwork in Darth Vader #14 is always excellent and this issue is no exception, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini & David Curiel work on pencils, inks and colours respectively to really bring their A-Game to the table and as a result the book feels right at home in the Star Wars universe. Curiel brings Mon Cala to life in a vivid an imaginative way with his colours that make the most out of Camuncoli’s artwork, whilst Orlandini’s letters help add a sense of agency to the script and the dialogue. There’s a full one-page panel showcasing the Empire’s forces in action early on and it really does an impressive job at showing just how intimidating they can be as an invading military force, with the issue as a whole getting the sheer scale and scope of planetary warfare like this spot on.
The book also works in the smaller one-on-one confrontations as well, really leading to some memorable encounters where we get to see Darth Vader unleashed in full fury. Having a character as unique and as strong as Vader is really gives this book an added edge that Soule always manages to find a way to make the most out of. However, that said – for a book with the main character in its title, at times Darth Vader #14 feels like it can lack a little of its protagonist, as we spend a hefty amount of time elsewhere, but Soule more than makes up for it by having Vader own every scene that he’s in, right from start to finish. And speaking of that finish – the cliffhanger really ends the book in an interesting way that will have readers on the edge of their seats, unable to wait until the release of issue fifteen.