We are now three issues into Darth Vader, written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Salvador Larroca, and so far it’s been a pretty fun ride for me. This month’s issue, #3, was especially intriguing because it introduced some cool new plot elements, including a (crazy) human female named Aphra, C-3PO and R2-D2’s evil twins, and Vader’s idea for a personal army.
What’s great about this series so far is that every issue has had its own unique story. Each one is an episode in and of itself, more or less. Of course, it’s all connected as the hashtag goes, but nothing is overused, and there are always fresh plot points and conflicts to liven things up anew.
For example, Darth Vader #3 introduces us to Aphra, who adds a whole new dimension to the comic all by herself. Even though we don’t know much about her, I am pretty sure that she’s slightly psychotic. It’s not her behavior, really, which could pass for just being quirky; it’s the fact that she seems to like reactivating dangerous assassin droids and weapons for people. Which is why she and Vader make the perfect team: he needs an army he can trust under his command, and she needs to make a living. She seems pretty happy to be working with the Dark Lord of the Sith, so… yeah, I’d say she’s pretty psychotic.
What’s really crazy, though, is that there are two droids in this comic that really do seem to be evil facsimiles of 3PO and R2. They’re both assassin droids, manufactured under the orders of Tarkin but shut down because of their overly homicidal tendencies. Aphra took it upon herself to get the two, a protocol droid named 0-0-0 (or Triple Zero) and a blastomech prototype called BT-1, back up and running as a job for a previous client. Now, though, Aphra and her droids are in the pay of Vader, who wants Aphra to get him a droid army. She readily agrees, and the next issue should see them head to the planet of Geonosis to do just that.
Overall, I liked this installment a lot. The beginning, I’m told, was a direct riff on the introduction to Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which Indiana Jones is running from the giant rolling rock (only in this case it’s Aphra running from a rolling droideka). I can’t attest to this personally, as I’ve never seen Raiders (I know, I know), but even considering the scene as it’s described to me, I think its reproduction in Darth Vader is a fun homage. Some found it overdone, and that may be, but just from what I’ve heard it doesn’t bother me.
In addition to that, there was a hint at Vader’s past as a gifted mechanic, and such scenes are always fascinating to see. The other star of the issue, Aphra, was a fun character to read: well-drawn and a bit quirky, with what I’m guessing must be some really dark motivations that will continue to remain a mystery for the present.
As for the artwork, it was fairly enjoyable; it does get a little confusing at times, though, when some of the art from adjacent panels jump into each other. But I’m guessing that’s just the artist’s style.
I’m definitely looking forward to Darth Vader #4. Keep an eye out for that next month, and go buy Darth Vader #3 at your local comic book store or on the Comixology app TODAY!