Friday, 20 February 2015

New Beginnings - Darth Vader #1

by Matt Puddy

As part of the new Star Wars revival under the Marvel, we have a new beginning for none other than the galaxy’s best known bad dad, Darth Vader.

Kieron Gillen helms this new title in exploring a slightly different side of the Emperor’s apprentice. Opening after the events of Star Wars, the galaxy is akin to the Wild West. There is no threat from the Death Star after its destruction. so order is in short supply. The Empire’s grip has slipped and something has to be done to rectify this.

Dispatched to Jabba’s palace, Vader makes a strong entrance by "only" killing two guards as he so graciously puts it, whilst on his way to meet the infamous Hutt. The biggest shock is that Vader is speaking to Jabba a day early and regarding on a personal issue to boot. When simply asking fails, and the assembled entourage comes back into the room, he dispatches the threats quickly and enforces his will upon Jabba in true Sith fashion. With “negotiations” over, he returns the following day in the proper formal capacity, but as a reader you won’t find out why until later.

The story reverts back a day to when he was receiving the scorn of the Emperor. The loss of the Death Star was a huge blow and seen ultimately as Vader’s failure. He is warned not to disappoint again, but is this something he can live up to. 

Back on Tatooine we learn what Vader was trying to get Jabba to provide - bounty hunters of the highest order - but there is a twist. Whilst one, the fan-favourite Boba Fett, is aimed directly at finding Luke Skywalker, the other has a slightly darker task. Not wanting to be kept in the dark on certain secrets Vader dents him to find another agent of the Emperor, so that the former Anakin Skywalker can have a discussion with him...

It’s hard for me to not like the artwork in the issue as it’s provided by one of my favourite artists, Salvador Larocca. What I have also liked is that on this occasion the pairing of him with Edgar Delgado on colours has made for some very bold and vibrant images within the issue, which is quite impressive when the lead character is glad head-to-toe in black garb! 

As always the linework is fine and precise meaning that the detail is in huge supply. The new Wookie bounty hunter is an interesting character to meet as a result. Overall it makes for a really good visual presentation to the reader.

Whilst the artwork was strong my overall feeling for the comic was not as much. Although I understand the course of the story and how the plot develops, the titular character feels somewhat clipped or cowed, aside from a few shows of force. There is a certain level of malice that precedes Lord Vader and I just didn’t feel it.

As a first issue it certainly showed a different side that many will not seen of Vader. The subservience came through more than had seen before (aside from the infamous Robot Chicken sketch), but there was also a faint glimmer of the rebellious nature that leads ultimately to the Emperor’s downfall. 

Will it be a strong comic? Well it certainly won’t be weak given the creative team, but I’m hoping future issues hit with a bit more of the dark side of the force.

Matt Puddy is keen to see what Neill Blomkamp does with an Alien movie!

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