The first issue of Marvel’s second Star Wars title came out yesterday, though Darth Vader’s solo book didn’t garner quite as much hype (or as many alternate covers) as the first issue of the flagship book.
There was a lot that I liked about Kieron Gillen’s story, but this book didn’t capture the “feel” of Star Wars quite as well as the first two issues of the main title.
I loved the way Vader’s entrance to Jabba’s palace was framed the exact same way as Luke’s entrance in Return of the Jedi… though of course Vader has his own way of ensuring cooperation.
Vader’s visit with Jabba was pure fun, and my favorite part of the book. (And I appreciate the tie-in with Star Wars #2, though I’m not going to love it if the solo titles turn into full-fledged crossovers that force readers to pick up all of Marvel’s Star Wars books to follow the story.)
The comic finds Vader in a very different place than we’re used to seeing him. By the time Empire Strikes Back opens, he’s in control of everything… Palpatine leaves Vader in charge of the hunt for the rebels, and he doesn’t have any Grand Moffs or Imperial military brass holding his leash.
Considering Vader’s role in allowing the destruction of the first Death Star and what that meant to the Galactic Empire, it’s pretty remarkable that his power grew during the three years between A New Hope and Empire. And it looks like the comics are going to address that journey.
We’re starting out with gems like this:
On one level, it’s fun to see the big scary bad guy get chewed out as if he’s the screwup who just can’t get anything right.
On the other hand, it reminded me of this clip from Robot Chicken more than the Star Wars films.
At the end of the issue, Jabba the Hutt loans Vader a pair of bounty hunters, one of which is Boba Fett. Now I always thought that Fett’s appeal in Empire came from being a guy in a cool suit of armor who didn’t say much. (We’ll overlook his appearance in Jedi – particularly the Special Edition version – because that made him look like an incompetent wannabe playboy.)
Comic Boba Fett talks too much.
I’m going to keep reading Star Wars: Darth Vader, but I’m going to re-evaluate once the opening story wraps up. I hope that Gillen is able to find the right tone after he’s been writing these characters for a longer time.