Star Wars: Darth Vader #27

Writer(s): Greg Pak
Artist(s): Raffaele Ienco
Colourist(s): Carlos Lopez
Letterer(s): VC’s Joe Caramagna


Published by Marvel Comics


On receiving number 27 of Marvel’s Darth Vader comic, it was hard to not have John Williams’ Imperial March playing in my head as I looked at the cover and took an initial flick through. Certainly having that same theme play as I read the opening crawl of the title page was a strange juxtaposition.

Such is the power of a name, of imagery; a power exercised to great effect by cover artist Rahzzah in bringing us a striking depiction of the dark lord of the Sith, seemingly haunted by the spectre of lost love, a hint of the red glow from his lightsaber casting deep shadows. The painting captures both Vader and Sabé/Padmé really well and sets the tone for interactions between the two.

In ‘The Queen’s Heart’, we join this uneasy alliance towards the end of a conflict with Governor Tauntaza, a corrupt operative of Crimson Dawn. She has withdrawn to a mobile fortress known as ‘The Death Machine’. Vader meanwhile, has rushed to rescue Sabé from the artificial sandstorm surrounding the fortress.

We open on Gabredor III, finding an odd band, including a couple of stormtroopers, two droids, Wald the Rodian (Anakin’s friend back on Tatooine) and Ochi of Bestoon. They await the return of Vader, Sabé and, hopefully, Wald’s friend Kitster. Soon after Vader emerges from the dwindling sandstorm, Sabé and Kitster in tow, he orders his super star destroyer to open fire on the governor’s Death Machine. When it proves invulnerable to this sort of attack, Vader sets out to destroy it through other means, a possible suicide mission, as the machine absorbs all organic life.

What follows are some spectacular moments, with highlights involving the help of a plucky little astromech droid and a later, pivotal scene of mercy speaking very much to the book’s title. The story is fast paced and easy to catch up on, although if you’re joining on this issue like me, you might find yourself wanting to read what went before or at least read a synopsis online.

Darth Vader is presented not only as an unrelenting force to be reckoned with but as a man also; haunted by a tumultuous past, with echoes of Anakin Skywalker shaping key decisions and forming impulses not easily ignored. That he is allied with a former handmaiden of his lost love seems to pull at the man in the armour all the more.


The supporting cast are just as important here, and define the character of Vader through their interactions with him or reactions to him. The creators have used Vader’s impassive mask to their advantage, conveying his intent, emotion and action through great writing and art. His darkly imposing voice emits through black speech bubbles, making his lines all the more effective. Each of his motions appears inexorable, resolute.


It’s difficult to not refer to the details of the main battle in this issue because it’s so cool, but I will say there is a nice nod to a trick/device used by another Skywalker in later years…

What follows are some spectacular moments, with highlights involving the help of a plucky little astromech droid and a later, pivotal scene of mercy speaking very much to the book’s title. The story is fast paced and easy to catch up on, although if you’re joining on this issue like me, you might find yourself wanting to read what went before or at least read a synopsis online.


Darth Vader is presented not only as an unrelenting force to be reckoned with but as a man also; haunted by a tumultuous past, with echoes of Anakin Skywalker shaping key decisions and forming impulses not easily ignored. That he is allied with a former handmaiden of his lost love seems to pull at the man in the armour all the more.


The supporting cast are just as important here, and define the character of Vader through their interactions with him or reactions to him. The creators have used Vader’s impassive mask to their advantage, conveying his intent, emotion and action through great writing and art. His darkly imposing voice emits through black speech bubbles, making his lines all the more effective. Each of his motions appears inexorable, resolute. It’s difficult to not refer to the details of the main battle in this issue because it’s so cool, but
I will say there is a nice nod to a trick/device used by another Skywalker in later years…

The team have worked some Star Wars magic here, with plenty of eye candy to support the great writing, with panels full of action, immersive sound effects and excellent art. I was immediately sold as I encountered the strange semi Mandalorian battle armour of Ochi along with the two odd droids. While one of them is designated M-7B, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the astromech unit the Jawas tried to sell to Owen Lars in the early scenes of ‘A New Hope’. Perhaps, if this is indeed R5-D4, we now have some idea as to why he had a bad motivator…


Verdict


This is a Darth Vader story with a heart, and while it features plenty of action beats it also stops to think about its characters and where they are going. It’s Star Wars comics done well and, even as a reader coming into the story arc cold, I was able to really enjoy my time here. Take a look if you can. You’ll be hearing that Imperial March and Vader’s breathing long after you close the final page. Do not underestimate the power of the dark side…




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