Sunday, February 15, 2015

Marvel's Darth Vader #1

Okay, it's February and that means Darth Vader #1 hit the comic store shelves and because I like sticking my tongue into the ulcerous open canker that is modern Star Wars media I just had to read it.
I swear it looks like he's about to just drop his lightsaber and be all, "Peace out, bitches."

So what can I say about it, in brief?
It was not bad.  In fact it was much better than Marvel Star Wars 001 & 002, with which its story is tied as it is part of the ongoing story line between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

The story sees Vader dealing with the fallout from the Rebel attack against Cymoon 1 that destroyed a major munitions production facility costing the Empire both time and money.  Required to redeem himself in the eyes of his evil master, Darth Vader travels to Tatooine to "negotiate" with Jabba the Hutt for the raw materials since the Hutt won't send an emissary into the galactic core.  We see some preliminary fun and games with Vader tuning up Jabba's minions and having a face to face with the big slug himself.  Vader ends his negotiations by showing Jabba the power of the Dark Side with a Force choke.  Jabba wisely capitulates and we are then taken to a day earlier where Vader obligingly links his own comic to the ongoing main Star Wars comic by recounting the events of SW 001 and 002 in brief.  It is from this that we learn he's on a punitive mission to appease his master.  We also glimpse a mysterious character that is working for the Emperor who seems human but for his right eye and surrounding tissue, which seems to be Rodian (Greedo's race).  Oh and the Emperor insults our boy DV by telling him he is useful only as a blunt instrument of Imperial force and shackles him to Admiral Tagge who is given Imperial Primacy after the loss of G.M. Tarkin.
We then head back to Tatooine a day later to see Vader discussing business with what looks to be Boba Fett (you never know in these comics, but all evidence says it is) and a psycho Wookie bounty hunter.  Vader hires them to find the X-Wing pilot that left Tatooine aboard the Millenium Falcon and to find the mysterious agent for the Emperor and to bring them to DV alive.  Aha.
The last page shows us an annoyed Vader saying he is ready to leave "this planet" and that his business there is concluded showing us the bodies of dead Sandpeople and their burning huts.

So that's the story, how was it?

Well the art was solid.  I have liked Darth Vader since I was a wee tyke and I like seeing him in art, especially good art, which the comic has.  Unlike the SW 001 and 002, this story is more personal and less insane.  Vader is fairly active in it, fighting Jabba's minions in the first third, and honestly that is only in the book for fan service.  Fans, especially Vader fans, want to see Vader kick ass.  Despite the fact that in the films Vader is more a threat than an active combatant, all Vader fans want to see him kicking ass.  I've seen it executed better in issues of Dark Horse's Empire comic, but I've seen it executed far worse as well, so it wasn't bad.
The psycho Wookie seemed a bit much, what with Wookies being a slave species during the Imperial years and I loathe Boba Fett, so seeing him just made unhappy, but hopefully that bit of fanboy pandering will be small in the overall story line.  The final scene with Vader among the slain Sandpeople did not suit my tastes.  Why should Vader still care?  He expended most of that emotion when he was a callow youth in Episode II.  Now, over 20 years later he still wants to kill Tusken?  It was a poor choice, I believe, in attempting to recall a past event for current character development.  Indeed it does nothing to develop the character, serving only as a recall of his past.  The Anakin that detested slavery is now the Vader that enforces the will of an Empire that enslaves races.  I just don't feel that Vader would have enough of the old emotion in him to slaughter a bunch of Tusken, especially if he did, as he claimed when he was whining to Padme, kill them all (the tribe that captured and tortured his mother to death).  It just felt Un-Vader-Like to me.

There was a major bright point however.  HIS FUCKING HELMET STAYED ON THE ENTIRE TIME.

This comic also comes in about 6 million variant covers from different artists in the biz, including the amazing Alex Ross (Kingdom Come, Justice League).
Gamestop Exclusive Variant cover...GAMESTOP?  Don't they sell video games?  Oh who am I shitting...

I purchased the regular cover because I really just wanted to read it and although variant covers are cool, some of them are referencing shit that just didn't happen in the issue.  Like that Gamestop variant above.  Sweet cover with a great looking Vader and the Death Star (which has been blown up by the time of the comic) and some Star Destroyers and such.  It looks like DV is summoning the Imperial fleet out of a Pokeball.  "Admiral Ozzel I choose YOU!"

If you are a Darth Vader fan, or even a Star Wars fan, you could do worse than to pick up DV#1.
"The power to destroy a planet is insignificant compared to keeping my damn life support helmet on for an entire issue.  If that Terran archaeologist can  keep a fedora on his head while being dragged by a German truck, surely I can keep my damn helmet on."

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