Tag Archives: Darth Vader

Darth Vader #16 Review

Darth Vader #16

Reviewed by Nathan Harrison

Written by: Greg Pak

Art: Raffaele Ienco

Released: 15/09/2021

Publisher: Marvel Comics

One of the biggest advantages of a major crossover event such as War of the Bounty Hunters is that stories can be told from all sides. Comic books only have so many pages that they can fill, so telling a story with an epic scope and dozens of key characters can sometimes be hampered by simply not having enough space to cover every potential aspect. This issue is a prime example of the comic book event doing what it always should, as events depicted in Darth Vader #16 run in tandem with the recently released fourth issue of the core mini-series and it makes for a thrilling aside which could not have been given adequate room to breathe had it been placed into the already very hectic main issue.

What we’re presented with is a heart in mouth, cat and mouse chase of an issue, which sees Luke feeling the hot breath of Vader’s TIE fighter down his exhaust ports once more, while a number of ongoing plot strands come together at breakneck pace. The shift between each aspect of the issue is deftly handled by Greg Pak, and Raffaele Ienco’s art remains simply stunning throughout, from the opening broad panels continuing the trippy fever dreams of an obsessed Vader (rendered in a wonderful murky crimson by Jason Keith and Rachelle Rosenberg) to the frenzied space chase that forms the crux of ‘Target Skywalker’.

One of the most iconic aspects of Star Wars (among an absolute plethora of them) is the masterful sound design of Ben Burtt. Without the imposing scream of the TIE fighter, the phasery slap of the lasers and the instantly recognisable beeps and woops of a concerned R2-D2, original trilogy dog fights would be a shadow of what they are. Props, then, to VC’s Joe Caramagna for his lettering across this issue, which shoots each sound straight between your eyes. His letters sometimes almost take over entire panels, just as the sounds themselves take over the senses when watching one of the movies – it’s pitched just right and shows that even a comic book, usually made up of no more sound than the occasional turn of the page, can become an absolute cacophony in the right hands.

Amongst all the action and the noise, however, Pak continues to deliver some of the best dialogue across all the Star Wars comics, especially when dealing with Ochi of Bestoon and Administrator Moore, whose face-off towards the end of the issue almost makes for a bit of light relief before the devastating conclusion which, much like its equivalent in the core series, sets up one hell of a final battle to come.


VERDICT

Pak and Ienco continue to produce an excellent book, which turns into a white-knuckle roller coaster for its 16th issue. The pace is such that it almost feels as if it’s over in the blink of an eye, but what that eye sees for the duration of the issue is some beautifully conceived space battle art and some of the best storytelling in the Marvel Star Wars roster.


Review by Nathan Harrison


Darth Vader #15 Review


DARTH VADER #15
Reviewed by Nathan Harrison.
Written by: Greg Pak
Art: Raffaele Ienco
Released: 25/08/2021
Publisher: Marvel Comics

One of the bigger flaws with Disney’s expansion of the Skywalker Saga on screen with Episodes VII-IX was the feeling of everything being rushed. Many plot points that could have done with some expanding upon were introduced with very little in the way of explanation and simply brushed aside as unimportant (see ‘Somehow, Palpatine returned’). The same could be said for a number of characters who were given very little development and backstory. 

While he didn’t appear in The Rise of Skywalker as a living, breathing part of the action, Ochi of Bestoon falls firmly into this category, his existence simply used as a way of progressing what little plot the film offered. What we do learn about him, a Sith devotee and the killer of Rey’s parents, is enough to make him an intriguing prospect for further investigation, something that Greg Pak has taken on and delivered brilliantly since issue 6 of his run. And now, in issue 15, Ochi gets his time to shine, as ‘The Assassin’s Choice’ sees his faith and loyalty to Vader put to the test.

Such a story requires a slight gear shift, which is a little jarring – the events here take place before those of War of the Bounty Hunters #3, which was released first. Once this slight frustration is put aside, however, what we’re left with is an issue that manages to progress the plot of the WOTBH event, at least from Vader’s perspective, whilst also serving as a fun diversion from the wider arc. Pak balances this beautifully despite the blistering pace of the issue, just as he does the interactions between Ochi and Vader. Ochi’s motormouth, almost nervous energy plays so well against Vader’s laconic terror and yet they both show the same level of skill, the same number of reasons to be feared – it’s a partnership that pays dividends, so here’s hoping that Pak doesn’t separate them any time soon. If Ochi’s fate in Episode IX is anything to go by, he’ll certainly be making waves amongst the Sith for some time to come. 

Raffaele Ienco’s artwork is as solid as ever – his consistency across this run has been something to behold, as is his consistency across single issues when moving from static conversations to all out action. In a title whose two main characters both wear face covering helmets, Ienco shows incredible skill in still managing to convey a sense of each of them, lending the right emphasis to the dialogue in the reader’s mind, as if he were in fact showing the features underneath, whether it’s Vader’s stoic near silence or Ochi’s talkativeness he’s approaching. The action scenes virtually pop out of the page, giving an astonishing sense of movement to Ochi’s fighting style whilst also allowing each panel to be simple to follow and understand. So many artists can create fast, frenetic sequences that are so busy that the reader has to force themselves to slow down to take in the detail, to the detriment of the pace they are trying to convey – this is a trap that Ienco never falls into as the issue zips by with every nuance intact. 

Every panel is eye-catching and the colours by Jason Keith gel wonderfully with Ienco’s lines, his use of various shades of red creating a cohesive look for the whole issue, whether Pak is progressing the plot or taking the reader into the heat of battle. 


VERDICT

Further insight into the relationship between Darth Vader and Ochi of Bestoon is expertly mixed with high stakes action to create an issue that simply has everything, right down to the stunning final splash page that seems designed to finally cement these two characters as an unstoppable duo. 


Reviewed by Nathan Harrison.


Star Wars #16 Review

STAR WARS #16
Reviewed by Nathan Harrison


Written by: Charles Soule
Art: Ramon Rosanas
Released: 18/08/21
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The doubt and fear that has plagued Luke Skywalker throughout this top-quality run finally comes to a head as he faces down the possibility of another showdown with Darth Vader at a crucial and climactic moment in the War of the Bounty Hunters event.

From the start of his time on Star Wars, Charles Soule has focused in on one of the key gaps that needs filling between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi – namely, Luke’s transition from the broken, defeated young man we see at the end of Episode V to the confident, formidable, powerful Jedi we see stride into Jabba’s palace when Episode VI kicks in. Soule’s exploration of the darker side of Luke’s psyche has been delivered in flashbacks that make the iconic scenes from Empire more horrifying and devastating each time they’re revisited, and that approach continues in issue 16 to wonderful effect, delivering a pay off that adds further to the corker of a cliffhanger that closed out War of the Bounty Hunters #3.

Luke really is put through the wringer this issue, with another dog fight to contend with on top of everything going on in his head – Ramon Rosanas again delivers spectacularly on this front, conveying a real sense of movement and speed that is really needed for such an essential piece of the Star Wars puzzle. Whenever enemy ships swarm and Rosanas is the one bringing them to life, expect fantastic results.

The action also briefly shifts to the events of the second half of the latest issue of the event’s mini-series (which Soule himself recommends should be read before Star Wars #16) as we see Leia, Lando and Chewie contend with the spiralling, chaotic events at the Crimson Dawn auction. Cutting between this and Luke’s escapades makes for a pacey read, flitting between a tense stand off at the auction with our heroes watching on, Luke’s dogfight and more horrific visions across large, eye-catching panels before culminating in a devastating conclusion that shows that Luke really has reached rock bottom.


VERDICT

The character development that Soule has been carefully and skilfully putting together since the first page of his first issue now helps to deliver a gut punch of an issue. It should be fascinating to see where Luke goes from here and what Soule does to bring him back from the brink.