This is the penultimate issue of Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader run. This past story arc is basically Darth Vader on a rampage against traitors within the Empire. Among the many awesome moments, he fought a cybernetically enhanced rancor, survived a massive space ship crash, sent one of his cyborg rebels flying through space with no way to return, and otherwise breezed his way through a great variety of opponents. At the very end however, Cylo V shut off the mechanics in Darth Vader’s suit at the push of a button. That’s where this issue picks up.
This is actually a very short read, relying more on Salvador Larroca’s art and Edgar Delgado’s colouring to tell the story than the writing. As such, I’ll be talking about the writing and the art at the same time. Most of this issue takes place in Darth Vader’s head, as a number of his memories replay before him. He remembers his confrontation with Obi Wan on Mustafar, a part of him wishing that Obi Wan finished him off. As the comic goes on, he also remembers killing Obi Wan, his old, jedi self, and Padme, from right around the time that she died. All of these moments could have distracted Darth Vader from the real world, but his focus helps him breeze through. In a sense, it helps sum up this entire series. The series started off with Darth Vader very distracted, but over the course of Gillen’s run, he regained his focus, becoming the unstoppable force the emperor wants him to be.
A lot of this is told through the very good art, with sparse dialogue to give everything a bit of context. Mustafar is full of detail, whether it’s the erupting volcanoes, the glow on what remains of Anakin’s legs as they’re lit on fire, or all the glowing and shadow work from the surrounding lava. The image is intentionally fuzzy around the corners, which makes the whole thing feel a touch surreal. Every time a character shows up, they look almost exactly like they did in the movies, from their facial expressions to their outfit. The fight scene between Darth Vader and his old Anakin self is creatively told through a mix of fully coloured close-up panels and tiny red silhouettes in the foreground, flipping around and clashing sabers. The way Darth Vader escapes his predicament is predictable but still quite satisfying to see. The ending then promises several big things happening in the next issue, but I won’t spoil that.
Everything about Darth Vader 24 works. Even though Darth Vader seems to breeze through his visions, there’s still a lot of conflict inside him, or else those visions wouldn’t happen in the first place. It makes this issue both awesome and tragic at the same time, but mostly just awesome. Darth Vader fans should be reading this series, whether you normally read comics or not. It really is that simple.