New Star Wars Comic Will Remind You Why You Love (And Hate) Darth Vader

New Star Wars Comic Will Remind You Why You Love (and Hate) Darth Vader

In the first three Star Wars movies, Darth Vader was a fearsome, enigmatic archvillain. The next three Star Wars movies attempted to show Anakin Skywalker as an emotionally turbulent figure of tragedy. The new Darth Vader comic gives readers both of those interpretations and more, enjoyably complicating a villain who been around for a whole generation.

New Star Wars Comic Will Remind You Why You Love (and Hate) Darth Vader

Out this week, Darth Vader #1 is the next instalment of a wave of all-new Star Wars comics being created by Marvel. From the very outset, the comic from Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca has a tricky premise to negotiate. Villain-centric stories are full of pitfalls that can turn off readers. One danger is that a certain beat — "boy, this character sure is evil" — can get hit over and over to the point it becomes boring and rote. Another danger: making the character too sympathetic and diluting the menace that seduced people into becoming fans in the first place.

From this first issue, it seems like Darth Vader's creators have heeded any and all Ackbarian warnings and are ready to avoid those particular traps.

New Star Wars Comic Will Remind You Why You Love (and Hate) Darth Vader

Part of the creative team's success comes from casting the Dark Lord of the Sith as someone who's got an incredibly abusive boss. Return of the Jedi made it clear that Emperor Palpatine viewed Vader as a glorified henchman, a tool to carry out his plans and to be unleashed on the Rebel Alliance. That thread gets carried into this new comic, which follows the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope, as the storytellers deliver a few great scenes that underscore how Vader never enjoys his liege's respect.

New Star Wars Comic Will Remind You Why You Love (and Hate) Darth Vader

Gillen also gestures back at the prequel trilogy and makes use of the half-baked political intrigue in Episodes I, II and III. You get a sense of the Empire as a political construct powered by the will of one very old, very evil man.

New Star Wars Comic Will Remind You Why You Love (and Hate) Darth Vader

It's an incredibly odd thing to feel sympathy for Darth Vader. But when Palpatine talks shit straight to his face, you pretty much can't help it. It's a reminder that Vader's a broken man, one who — even before his turn to the Dark Side — was seeking a father figure.

That brokenness isn't just emotional, as the body of the man once known as Anakin was burnt away years ago. The damage hasn't stopped him from being a powerful enemy, though. There's a great fight scene where Darth Vader takes out a whole room of Jabba the Hutt's thugs by barely moving. It's a great sequence by Larocca that makes Vader seem incredibly badass because of the economy of movement on display.

New Star Wars Comic Will Remind You Why You Love (and Hate) Darth Vader

And the icing of the cake for longtime fans is seeing Vader perform this way while they know full well that his cyborg body isn't exactly nimble. He fights this way because he has to. But his enemies don't know that. It amounts a weird, satisfying reverse-FDR moment: a man-in-charge who must hide physical frailty to instill loyalty or fear.

Much of what makes Vader so intriguing as a character is the fact that he doesn't emote emphatically. That opaque helmet is a lid on top of a storm of conflicting feelings. All sorts of pride, regret, arrogance and sadness must be roiling under that mask. Larocca does excellent work in using lighting, camera angles and body language to imply the depth of Vader's emotional state. A tilt of the head this way or placing a clenched fist in the foreground of a panel are among the artistic decisions that sketch out a dejected, angry Vader.

Moments throughout the issue seem designed to seed the idea of Vader as more of a schemer than previously understood. An encounter with Luke Skywalker in the first two issues of the new Star Wars series — which featured Luke's thirst for revenge and Vader's snatching of the young Jedi's lightsaber, shown here from Vader's perspective — have sparked his own personal agenda. He needs to know who this upstart Force-wielder is and must investigate without Palpatine knowing.

There are wheels within wheels here and Darth Vader #1 makes it seem like it's going to be a wonderful experience watching them spin. Gillen folds in enough context to generate a modicum of sympathy but not so much that anyone thinks that redemption might be possible (not until Return of the Jedi, of course). This is Darth Vader, after all, and we know how his story ends. But the first issue of his new comic book series makes an excellent case for showing what else was going on as he marches towards his fate.


Comments

    Sorry. Non-canon!

      What do you mean? These comics are the canon now.

        Nope. Everything outside the movies are deleted. Nope nope nope.

          I googled it:

          Yes, the old comics (etc) are no longer canon, but 'most' new comics are considered canon, usually through collaboration with Lucasfilm Story Group.

          http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Canon

          Yeah from what I understand, as great as these are, from the perspective of Disney, these are just glorified Fan fiction.

          Still sounds like a good read though.

          Edit: Although the links posted here just now would indicate otherwise!

          Last edited 13/02/15 4:24 pm

          These are part of the new canon. EVERYTHING that is made from Disney from now is the new canon.

        True:

        http://screencrush.com/marvel-star-wars-comics/

      Marvel is owned by Disney. They got the SW licence back because of that fact. All previous Dark Horse comics have been terminated and Marvel is essentially rebooting the comic line in collaboration with Disney and their movies. Dark Horse comics are now mostly non-canon and Marvel comics are now canon.

    So when are these comics set?
    They refer to the lack of a Death Star (it's not clear whether it's because it was destroyed or just not finished yet), and there's mention of Darth Vader taking Luke's lightsaber, which means it must be sometime between episode IV and VI, right?
    So is this Darth Vader's point of view of the original trilogy?

      So when are these comics set?

      Return of the Jedi made it clear that Emperor Palpatine viewed Vader as a glorified henchman, a tool to carry out his plans and to be unleashed on the Rebel Alliance. That thread gets carried into this new comic, which follows the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope,

        Ok, I need to learn to read better. :/

        But then why does he have Luke's lightsaber?

    It's kind of weird to refer to the "First three movies" and mean the "Last three movies", which aren't really the last three movies because the last three movies are actually the "First three movies". *Head explodes*

      I just don't normally refer to the prequels at all.

      There are only three movies. End of story. ;-)

        Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith right? ^_-

          Hey I know you are trying to be funny but that is just rude. For shame, FOR SHAME!!!!!!!!!

          (I did chuckle though) ;-)

    Couldn't help but read the emperors voice with the voice from the Robot Chicken Star Wars specials .

    They need to get a better artist on this series. The "based off still frame" faces are terrifying

    Ugh. Does everyone have to know everyone else in these things?

      Well, Tatooine is the centre of the galaxy.

      I am now curious why Darth Vader returns to his home planet again.

    I prefer the dream I had back in 1993 where anakin kills vader and takes his place at the emperor's side. More importantly, leia's mother is not the same as luke's mother. Princess in every port and all that.

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