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The
dark side
is strength.
I am that strength.

Darth Vader is a 25-issue Star Wars comic series from Marvel, written by Kieron Gillen and drawn by Salvador Larroca. This graphic novel concludes the Darth Vader series by collecting issues 20 through 25.

As the book opens, Darth Vader has traveled to the super star destroyer Executor, still under construction, to meet with the Emperor. We are then treated to a full five pages of exposition as Palpatine explains various matters to Vader1. That much dense dialog could have been tedious, but the art saves it, as Vader and the Emperor circle each other as they do a bit of verbal jousting. Finally Vader speaks the lines shown above, and the Emperor acknowledges their truth. He dispatched Vader to eliminate the last of his rivals.

Darth Vader then proceeds to clean up various loose ends of his own plots as well as following the Emperor's orders. Vader triumphs in various ways against his remaining foes: in space battles, against a Rancor, in a lightsaber duel on the hull of the Executor. Finally he goes up against the "big bad" (relative though this term must be in this context). Vader's own efforts are aided by the evil droids Triple-Zero and BeeTee, who get their own little side mission for an issue, in which copious amounts of blaster fire are employed and many meatbags meet their demise.

Finally Vader returns to the Emperor, only to learn that his secrets have been revealed to Palpatine by Doctor Aphra. They hug it out and the series wraps up with warm fuzzies all around. Well, maybe not exactly, but I would hate to spoil the ending. Suffice it to say that not everyone survives the denouement. Vader gains command of the Imperial Fleet, with the Executor as his flagship under Admiral Ozzel, who we will meet again in The Empire Strikes Back.

There is also a fascinating dialog-free coda set on Tatooine among the Tusken raiders2. I don't know quite what to make of it, but it's a remarkable ten pages without words or text.

Recommendation

This is a great conclusion to the series. The plot, art, and dialog area all top-notch and all of the narrative threads pull together in a satisfying way. Vader versus the (enhanced) rancor is a nice diversion, and the artist gives him a classic 'Clone Wars' Anakin combat pose that made me smile. The big bad comes very close to defeating Vader, and at the climax we have a multi-page Vader hallucination that calls back to Mustafar and Revenge of the Sith in a very compelling way. One image of a fully-formed Vader rising from the molten lava of Mustafar is particularly gorgeous. This sequence shows us that it was here, in Anakin's rage and betrayal, that Darth Vader was truly born. Not earlier in Palpatine's office, and not later in the lab where he became "more machine than man," but watching in agony as Obi Wan Kenobi left him to die. It's powerful stuff, done so well that I would say it effectively reconciles me to Anakin's "heel turn" that I never quite accepted before. It's a great read, and our anti-hero gets so many great moments and lines that it was challenging to pick one for the lede.


Followed by: Doctor Aphra comic series, to be collected in trade paperback as Volume 1, expected in July 2017.

Lord Vader's words, that serve as the simulated opening crawl, are taken from the reviewed work.


  1. Fortunately not sexposition, because it's not Game of Thrones, and also, ewww. Hopefully there's no "He was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force." Vader/Emperor shipping out there.
  2. Formerly the Oakland Raiders/Los Angeles Raiders.

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