"Star Wars: Darth Vader #1" (Rating: 9 out of 10); Written by Kieron Gillen; Art by Salvador Larroca; Published by Marvel Comics; Available 2/11/15.
Marvel debuts their second title in their "Star Wars" line this week with Kieron Gillen's take on the Dark Lord of the Sith. It takes place almost immediately after the events of "Star Wars" #1 and #2, where Darth Vader is dealing with the failure of his mission and his master, Darth Sidious is nothing short of furious.
Gillen opens the book with familiar scene set ups, evoking Luke's first in-the-flesh appearance in "Return of the Jedi" and then continues to pay homage to all of the films in the saga of Anakin Skywalker throughout the story. Just like the previous Marvel "Star Wars" issues before this, they have captured the essence of "Star Wars" with the team. The art and the writing all evoke a sense of understanding for the world that is thrilling for the biggest of "Star Wars" fans, but accessible enough for even the most casual.
This issue finds itself to be thrilling, even though it's largely place setting. The Emperor is displeased with Vader's failures and sends him on an errand and things play out from that perspective.
The thing I want to talk about most, though, I'm unable to, because Marvel requested there be no spoilers in this advanced review and don't blame them. But suffice to say Gillen does not ignore the fact that this might be Vader's first trip to the surface of Tatooine since "Attack of the Clones." It's this realization that creates the lion's share of my interest for this issue.
More than anything, if you're interested in the dynamics between Vader and Palpatine, and the officers of the Empire, as well as the Bounty Hunters and the Hutt's, then this is the comic book you're going to want to read.
It seems Marvel is going out of their way to tell "Star Wars" stories that are VITAL to the canon, and they're using that to full effect, knowing that many of us are completists for that sort of thing. But they're not giving us anything to complain about so far, whatsoever. These stories feel fresh even their in a time period that's been well-trod by legendary stories. And they're still coming up with new ways for me to think about the political reality and mythology of the galaxy far, far away. Indeed, this is the first time I can recall seeing Palpatine's obvious anger at the idea that they dissolved the Senate because they were counting on the Death Star and now they have no Death Star. And who is responsible?
As the only survivor of the Death Star Assault, you can understand why Palpatine would be a little upset at Vader and why he'd be taking things out on him.
This issue, for me, especially for the final pages, earned my respect and I'll be reading the rest of the series regardless. But it left me with such a satisfying gut punch that I'm rating it a 9 out of 10. The first issue hits comic book stores on Wednesday, February 11, 2015.