A couple months after Marvel started publishing Star Wars comics again, Kieron Gillen kicked off his Darth Vader solo series. It took place not long after A New Hope ended, with Darth Vader disgraced in the Empire’s ranks because he was the only survivor from the Death Star. Over the course of the series, Darth Vader discovered that he had a son, refocused his efforts and rose back in the ranks of the Empire. What better way to conclude this series by completely destroying traitors within the empire?
This comic begins where the last left off, with Darth Vader attacking Cylo’s ship with a lone star fighter in the middle of a battle. The battle ends quickly, but that doesn’t make it any less satisfying. When Cylo attacks Darth Vader with a bunch of his clones at once, Darth Vader’s line says it all.
“That I can kill you repeatedly is by far your most appealing trait.”
Evan that pales by comparison to how Vader eventually finishes Cylo off, which I won’t spoil. This action scene only takes up a few pages. The rest of this comic ties up all the loose ends, while building up to where Darth Vader is at the start of the Empire Strikes Back. Dr. Aphra, Darth Vader’s AI specialist, also gets her own fun conclusion, and I look forward to where we’ll see her next. Despite being a $6 comic, it’s a quick read, yet at the same time it’s completely worth the price thanks to both all the unspoken lines and Salvador Larroca’s fantastic art.
Right from the first page, everything is very well detailed. The opening spread shows Darth Vader flying through the space battle, with the stars in the background, tie fighters weaving through Cylo’s whale ships and the executor in the distance, blocking out the glow of a nearby star. The action scenes with Vader slicing down Cylo’s clones with his lightsaber are few, but satisfying nonetheless. The background in the whale ship is complete with a mix of internal organs and metal walls, some of which are dripping with body fluids. The control room with the glass floor above the brain just looks cool. Facial expressions also do a great job at conveying emotion, whether it’s Aphra switching from a subtle look of pride to absolute terror, and her later look of relief. Admiral Ozzel also clearly tries to hide his fear watching Darth Vader kill a fellow officer. Edgar Delgado’s colouring is also great. Everything is bright and colourful on Cylo’s ship, while the Executor is appropriately dark blue.
There’s also a wordless backup story with Max Fiumara on art and Dave Stewart on colouring. It’s a fun little story about a sandperson who witnesses Darth Vader wiping out an entire camp (this took place in the first story arc), and then rushes back to his own camp. They end up building a Darth Vader statue and worship him as a god who wiped out their rivals. This story takes a bit of an artistic, almost painted look on the pages where the witness is supposedly describing the attack, and it almost looks straight out of a myth. This little story alone almost makes this comic worth picking up, and it certainly helps justify the $6 price tag further.
Darth Vader 25 is everything I hoped it would be. Darth Vader himself is just as awesome as always, and there’s the near perfect balance of action, exposition, amusing lines and subtle character moments for the greatest villain in the Star Wars Universe. This entire series as a whole is profoundly satisfying for Star Wars fans, and if you like the movies, you should check this run out even if you don’t normally read comics. If you do read comics and you like Star Wars, but you haven’t read this series yet, you’re making a mistake.