Darth Vader is back and ready for action!… A lot of action… So it seems that Issue #2’s are the very “action-centric” issues of all of the Marvel Star Wars series’ so far. Both Star Wars and Darth Vader have had their second issues full of action with very little dialogue or plot. It’s not necessarily a bad thing I suppose it just depends on what you’re looking forward to that month. I like to have questions answered or learn new things about the characters more than see them do cool things with their lightsabers or pilot custom TIE Advanced X1s. So for me while it’s cool to see Vader do these things I enjoy the issues where I learn new things more. So onto the plot stuff!!
The story opens with Vader stopping an automated ship from attacking and presumably pirating an Imperial supply shuttle. Vader remarks about how advanced the droids must be to pilot and fire so effectively, presumably comparing them to battle droids. It’s cool to see Vader in his X1 again and piloting like the great pilot he’s always been regaled as.
Vader meets with Grand General Tagge aboard his Super Star Destoyer Annihilator which although we don’t see is cool to know there are other Super Star Destroyers out there. In the Legends stories there were supposedly very few created shortly before The Empire Strikes Back. The Executor was given to Vader as his flagship, the Lusankya was hidden beneath Coruscant (I never figured out how) and became Ysanne Isard’s torture/prison/summer getaway (ask Lt. Celchu). Warlord Zsinj was given the Iron Fist by Palpatine himself. Unless this particular Super Star Destroyer is yet to be renamed….
I actually like the interaction between Tagge and Vader. It’s very interesting to see how Vader reacts to serving under someone whom he has considerably LESS respect for than Tarkin. It really sheds light on how much mutual respect and understanding Vader and Tarkin shared. Vader suspects the pirate activity increasing indicates a leak somewhere within their ranks. Tagge laments the loss of the Death Star or “Tarkin’s folly” and wonders aloud how many Super Star Destroyers could have been built with those resources. Tagge’s plan is to use the droid ship they captured to infiltrate the base and find and destroy the pirates station. The Grand General also assigns an adjutant to Vader named Oon Ai and believes himself to be the skilled hand that can wield Vader to his fullest potential…. It’s funny just how much the images of Vader’s expressionless mask seem to emote at these moments in their conversation.
Oon Ai questions Vader about communications with a bounty hunter named Boba Fett to which Vader promises answers after the mission. The mission commences and the droid ship arrives at the base in the extreme edge of the Outer Rim. Vader and his stormtroopers storm the base while Vader’s droid seems to have a mission of it’s own. The pirates deploy their security droids mentioning “Aphra made big promises for these….” The droids seem to be customized and upgraded destroyer droids which Vader destroys by redirecting their missiles at them. Vader’s droid enters the base and plugs into the computer then returns to the ship unseen. With the droids defeated the pirates activate the self destruct. Vader dismisses his troops to get the ship ready while reminding Oon Ai he must stay with him while he accomplishes his mission. Vader accesses the computer and the pair narrowly return to their ship and escape just before the base explodes.
Vader returns to the Annihilator with Oon Ai’s body reporting that the information discovered at the base revealed that the pirates were being backed by the Crymorah and the leak Vader suspected was Oon Ai. He then jettisons and destroys his droid which presumably planted the information into the pirates computer and covers his own tracks.
I like that this issue reveals more of Vader using deception rather than force to achieve his ends. So many stories liken Vader to be a one note villain who simply can’t be beaten because he’s too strong in the Force/good with a lightsaber/awesome at piloting/too many Midichlorians/you underestimate his power or whatever. It’s cool to see that Vader is indeed learning the Sith lessons well. While Vader cannot simply destroy Tagge without risking his master’s wrath he can show Tagge that he is not a simple lapdog either. While we still have not met Aphra, she is mentioned by the pirates and we know she is on the cover of Darth Vader #3. It’s not clear what exactly she does although the synopsis calls her a “raider of lost weaponry” which seems to indicate she either built or found those upgraded Droideka. The art by Larroca is still top notch and awesome. Can’t wait to see where the story goes!