Comic Review – Star Wars: Darth Vader #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Raffaele Ienco
Cover Artist(s): InHyuk Lee
“Darth Vader failed to turn Luke Skywalker to the Dark Side. Luke escaped but now knows the truth.
He is Darth Vader’s son.
For the first time in many years, Darth Vader’s path is uncertain…”
As part of Marvel Comics new 2020 relaunch, the “Star Wars” comic book titles also get a fresh start with a new main series and new number one issues, including “Darth Vader”. While the first series took place between the classic movies “Episode IV: A New Hope” and “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,” this new series starts right after the events of “Empire Strikes Back” after Luke lost his hand to Darth Vader and he revealed himself to be his father (in case you didn’t know).
After Luke was rescued from Cloud City by Leia on the Millennium Falcon, he was lost to Vader after he had been planning on bringing him to the Emperor. Now without any leads to his whereabouts, Lord Vader leaves on an Imperial shuttle with a group of Death Troopers (seen in “Rogue One”) and a forensics droid called Zed Six Seven to search for him. So Vader follows Luke’s trail from the beginning with where else, but his former home (and Anakin’s home) on the planet Tatooine. He finds the Lars burned-out homestead and the garage where he sees flashbacks of himself and Padme after his mother died and after he took out his anger on a tribe of Sand People (see “Episode II: Attack of the Clones”) after a brief altercation with a gang of brazen pirates, his search continues on Coruscant and Padme’s old apartment which has been sealed since her death (“Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”). Then he and the droid end up on Vendaxa for some reason and he makes a surprising discovery!
This first issue of this new volume is a somewhat thick issue, although a 40-page issue (including the many adverts and foldouts for many of Marvel’s upcoming series for this year) but 30-pages of story that includes a recap of the iconic scene from “Empire Strikes Back” and many scenes that harken back to events from Episodes I, II and III, as Anakin went from the little boy to a Jedi Knight and then a Dark Lord of the Sith. While audiences and fans had no idea that Vader’s story was so complex until the prequels, we see a different side of Vader that at times does not resemble the cold, evil villain that we came to know, but more of a tragic and sympathetic man (despite the fact that he killed Jedi younglings in the past and just cut off his only son’s hand!) Apparently the whole time during Episode V and VI, Vader was looking for Luke by essentially following a very similar path that he did beginning with Tatooine. The presence of the forensics droid, while somewhat interesting and new, becomes a kind of droid version of “Captain Obvious” as he is literally telling Vader things he (and most likely the reader) already knows while on Tatooine: “Shmi was killed by Tuskens and a village of Tuskens was massacred shortly thereafter.” While it was interesting ton revisit moments in Anakin’s life, they are not really seen through his eyes and (disappointingly) and at first we are just given clips from the movies but just in a red tint. Word-for-word with some of the most quotable of scenes, but then we finally get to see a brief insight into how he saw things, as well as a bewildering vision of Luke, Anakin’s mother and Padme Amidala falling from Cloud City. The only hint of emotion is from Vader’s reaction at uncovering the graves of Cliegg Lars and his mother and the droid suggests that “Owen and Beru must have hidden the headstones, protecting the boy [Luke] probably.”
As both Marvel and Disney continue to erase 20 years’ worth of the Expanded Universe stories, particularly what transpired between Episodes IV, V and VI, Star Wars fans both old and new will be given a whole new perspective into the in-between story, which until the 1990s, most of us were only left to speculate. For the new breed of Star Wars fan, especially those who enjoyed Episodes VII, VIII and IX, this will be a fresh new story to learn more about what lies behind the mask. But for many like me, who grew up with a different kind of story, this will be a hit-or-miss. For devoted Star Wars comics readers, this is a must-read, and for those new readers, both this and the latest volume of the simply titled “Star Wars” Marvel comic book are also essential. As I mentioned in my review of the other new title, I would recommend going back to the first volume as well as Dark Horse Comics’ extensive Expanded Universe, especially 1993’s “Shadows of the Empire.”
“Darth Vader” #1 released on February 5, 2020
Written by Dave Whiteman, a Native Texan, Metalhead🤘, Writer, Star Woid, Funatic, and all-around Fanboy/Nerdy/Geeky guy! 👓