Spoiler Warning: There be spoilers below…
The adventures of Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra and their duo of demented droids continues in the fourth issue of Marvel’s ongoing Darth Vader series.
I am really enjoying this series and this issue is no exception. Vader, Aphra, Triple-Zero and BT travel to Geonosis in search of a Geonosian Droid Factory. Bugs are creepy and on Geonosis the alien bug species is no exception even when we see it in droid form. Vader, Aphra and the droids are successful because… well, he’s Darth Vader and that’s what he does.
Now if you think back to Attack of the Clones and how massive the droid foundry was, the portrayal of the droid factory in this comic is a little curious. The droid factory we see in this issue is one that is much smaller and can fit on a starship. An explanation is that the droid foundries are simply massively scaled-up versions of this necessary for production in the quantities needed by the Separatist war machine. Alas, we don’t really get any explanation in the story. They also don’t make clear the production speed/capacity of the stolen droid factory or how many different kinds of models it can produce. In the panel we see it extruding a droid it is a BX-series commando droid, a model that was introduced in The Clone Wars episode, “Rookies.”
Another interesting thing is that we seemingly see a Geonosian Queen speaking unaccented Basic. An interesting choice but I would have assumed in the lettering we would have at least got some indication that it was being spoken in an alien fashion.
I continue to enjoy the art in the series by artist Salvador Larroca and colorist Edgar Delgado. There is a realism and detail to the work that is very pleasing. The depictions of Triple-Zero are particularly awesome. While the style of art is entirely different the dark tone of the book gives a feel similar to the classic Batman: The Animated Series. The use of black instead of white gutters (space between panels) and borders lends a darkness to the page that I love.
It is pretty awesome that Gillen and Larroca take two entire pages in this issue for a quiet moment between Vader and Aphra that explains a lot about what Aphra is thinking and why she is doing what she is doing. There is a refreshing realism to Aphra that we don’t often get with folks interacting with Darth Vader. Aphra knows enough about Vader to have a healthy respect for him, fear of him, and no illusions about her ability to outwit or escape his grasp. Typically Vader is pretty mysterious to those he interacts with in stories and this often leads to either an underestimation of Vader or an overestimation of one’s own chance of defeating or escaping from Vader.
There are two significant continuity revelations in this issue, the first is that the Empire used some sort of bombs to sterilize the planet of Geonosis, wiping out the Queens and the Hives. This is interesting and could have been done during or after the construction of the Death Star. It would make sense that if the Emperor and Tarkin used Geonosisian labor to help build the station, and also that they would simply eliminate those workers afterward to lower the chance of some valuable information on weaknesses or capabilities leaking out. It will be interesting to see if this sterilization of Geonosis will come up again.
The other significant revelation is that there is some strange organic base in an outer nebulae in the galaxy at which Palpatine is training a group of “replacements” for Darth Vader. Add in the fact that Doctor Cylo-IV was transporting illegal alien organ supplies makes me wonder if we are dealing with some crazy cyborg stuff here. Chances are this is all just another of the Emperor’s tests of Vader and he doesn’t intend these to be actual replacements, but we will have to wait and see. It would be interesting if these “replacements” somehow tie into other Star Wars stories going forward.
In many ways this story arcs feels similar to Maul’s Shadow Collective, what is with Sith apprentices and private armies? I am enjoying the series greatly and it feels like it is building to a crescendo. I just hope that Gillen and Larroca and stick the landing on this opening arc.