By Greg Pak, Raffaele Ienco, Neeraj Menon, and VC’s Joe Caramagna
Darth Vader is easily one of the most, if not the most, iconic characters in Star Wars. Vader has been lucky by having two previous solo titles that were excellent. Now Marvel presents to us a new Darth Vader #1, shedding new light on the events after The Empire Strikes Back for Darth Vader. This is a relatively uncharted time period in Star Wars and hopefully this title will satisfy the curiosity of Star Wars fans wanting to fill in the gaps between the movies.
Darth Vader #1 starts right at the end of the classic The Empire Strikes Back, as Darth Vader is having his initial reactions to Luke Skywalker turning down his offer to rule the galaxy as his side as father and son. Greg Pak sets the tone well for this series in this opening issue because Darth Vader is feeling anger unlike any other he has felt in the past. Greg Pak does well with getting inside Darth Vader’s head as he reacts to the world around him while dwelling on his thoughts of anger. Darth Vader now believes that Luke Skywalker was made weak by those who had protected and raised him. Now, Darth Vader views it as his mission to punish anyone that had poisoned his son against, just as Padme had been done to him in Revenge of the Sith. In speaking of prequels, Pak clearly has a knowledge of all of the entire Star Wars saga and is taking great care into making sure that films from the prequels and newer Disney films tie into this series. The tie is most evidently seen in the prequels, as we view Darth Vader’s memories flash before him in his time as Anakin Skywaler. The end of this issue will surely raise some eyebrows with fans and it will be a very tricky reveal to pull off well. Following issues in this series will determine if this gamble will pay off or come off as a gimmick.
The art in this issue is provided by Raffaele Ienco, with Neeraj Menon on colors, and lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna. There are plenty of moments in this first issue where we get to see the dark lord of the Sith annihilate his enemies with his lightsaber, but these are not the best visual moments in Darth Vader #1. The truly great moments in this issue is seeing the helmeted reaction from Darth Vader. Although we cannot see his face, a simple head tilt down while in deep contemplation is all we need to know that Darth Vader is in great pain. Getting the red-tinted flashback serves to make the reader think Darth Vader is looking back in a red-filled rage or possibly even through the red-tinted lenses he wears in his helmet to illustrate the bias he now sees in the world.
Darth Vader #1 is a good start to another solo series for the dark lord. Only time will tell now if this series will have the staying power of its predecessors.