Another catch-up DOUBLE REVIEW!! (See my last explanation concerning SWCA and such…) This time I’m looking at Darth Vader #4 and 5. The Sith Lord’s adventures take him to familiar places and some very trippy new ground. The good thing about late reviews is now that you’ve all read these issues and we can get started!
Right away in issue #4 we start on Geonosis with Aphra and Vader. I’m still LOVING the way the narrative is being told without having to make Vader either say a lot of somewhat uncharacteristic dialogue or have to tell the story from inside of Vader’s head through his own voice. I think the way we sort of see Vader’s thoughts or memories through single panels works phenomenally well. It doesn’t put excess dialogue into a character from whom it shouldn’t be coming, while at the same time it gives us a great sense of his inner workings. The 000 and BT-1 duo are still hitting their place in this story and quickly becoming one of the most enjoyable part of these comics. Evil 3PO just works here. It’s a wonderfully twisted humor having such a well-mannered torture droid in such a familiar guise. The Geonosian Queen and her robotic brood are nice and creepy in a very strange antithesis to Vader himself. There are lots of references to children and when biology fails then science is another answer. It brings lots of interesting thematic thoughts to his story. Vader is, after all, someone who is kept alive by science. Vader defeats the Queen and takes her battle droids thus completing his army. Krrsantan Black brings Doctor Cylo-IV and after a hilarious 000 interrogation scene we learn Sidious has possible replacements ready for Vader.
There are lots of details that I’m loving about this series. This issue reveals that Vader has Padme’s old Naboo cruiser. It brings lots of interesting questions about how many of these relics from Anakin’s life Vader has. The immortal sterile Geonosian queen seems to be a reference to Vader’s own life. Aphra’s awareness and acceptance of how deep into this Vader situation she has gone and how her willingness to give her life in service is fascinating. I’m still not sure where her loyalty comes from but she is panning out to be a very interesting character and I hope to learn more about her.
Issue #5 brings Vader to the secret base which happens to be built upon giant whale like creatures. Right off the bat things are weird. Vader takes the base and ends up finding his “replacements.” Two lightsaber wielding warriors who use technological implants (?) to sort-of-mimic Force abilities. They jam the door with a hand gesture, sort of double jump with foot thrusters, and spin their sabers in a very General Grievous-like manner. Cylo-V reveals that while they are not apprentices–they are replacements. He reveals a gang of other “replacements” including a Mon Cala with an exoskeleton, a Trandoshan with extra long claws, a human woman with sci-fi goggles that probably interact with those floating remote-looking things, and a giant probe droid. Cylo-V mentions that technology is the successor of the Force. Palpatine reveals himself and tells Cylo-V to get the show started.
I hope I see the Trandoshan riding the giant probe droid at some point during the next issue’s inevitable showdown because that just sounds like it would look amazing.
Issue #4 hits solidly and really is the first sort of look at this strange idea of “Vader’s crew.” Vader, Aphra, 000, and BT-1 make this strange little ragtag antithesis to all the archetypes we’re so familiar with. It automatically puts us both in a familiar place and a new spin on the idea. I’m loving 000 in particular–his dialogue and timing in this issue are pretty much the scene stealers. Aphra is great to have as well. She’s interesting, has lots of cools things to say, and plays off Vader in a way we aren’t really used to. Even in all the Legends stories the thing that comes closest is Jix in Shadow Stalker. I love the storytelling here and the characters add a lot of fun into this issue even with the very heavy themes and ideas presented.
Issue #5 immediately knocks a Star Wars fan off balance. Opening up with flying whale things and taking the idea further into a different sci-fi territory then we’re used to takes a bit of getting used to. I’m still waiting to see how the story pans out but I think I’m OK with this development so far. While it seems so radically different, we’ve had lots of interesting new ground in The Clone Wars with numerous similarities. Giant Neebrays, General Grievious, and most notably Echo’s stories all have very similar sci-fi ideas to those presented here. With most of the action centering on Vader a bit of the fun from the gang is lost, but the issue is still very fascinating. I can’t wait to see where they’re going with this!