Comic Review: Darth Vader (2020) #1

Published: February 5th, 2020
Rating: T
Writer: Greg Pak
Penciler: Raffaele Ienco
Colourist:  Neeraj Menon
Cover Artist: Inhyuk Lee

The synopsis;

“JOIN ME, AND TOGETHER, WE CAN RULE THE GALAXY AS FATHER AND SON!” THE TRAGEDY OF DARTH VADER CONTINUES! In the shattering climax of The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader infamously reveals his true relationship to Luke Skywalker and invites his son to rule the galaxy at his side. But Luke refuses — plunging into the abyss beneath Cloud City rather than turn to the Dark Side. We all remember Luke’s utter horror in this life-altering moment. But what about Vader? In this new epic chapter in the Darth Vader saga, the dark lord grapples with Luke’s unthinkable refusal and embarks on a bloody mission of rage-filled revenge against everything and everyone who had a hand in hiding and corrupting his only son. But even as he uncovers the secrets of Luke’s origins, Vader must face shocking new challenges from his own dark past. Writer Greg Pak and artist Raffaele Ienco unleash Darth Vader on his dark quest of vengeance and discovery this February! With covers by InHyuk Lee!

The review;

Even the Dark Lord of the Sith himself would be most impressed with the six incredible covers that are starting off this new series. Lee’s direct cover perfectly pairs Vader with Death Troopers, which if possible, makes the characters even scarier than usual. Both Ienco and Daniel’s variants pose the Sith Lord dramatically lit and the brightly coloured backgrounds make his armour jump off of the page. Finally Del Mundo’s cover beautifully combines Anakin’s past, Vader’s present, and Luke’s future all using a very limited colour-palette that works so well.

Fans have always known that Darth Vader was tormented by his past. Vader’s anger towards his old life as Anakin Skywalker was a source for his hate, but at the same time it was his memories that eventually returned him to the light side. Both Marvel’s Dark Lord of the Sith comic series and Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp hinted at the thoughts behind those crimson-tinted lenses, and now in this new series Pak is delving even deeper into the mind of the greatest Star Wars villain.

Darth Vader #1 literally answers the question of – what did Vader do when the Millennium Falcon escaped into hyperspace during the finale of Episode V? Once Vader stalks off the bridge of the Executor, he decides to immediately set out and find all the people who dared hide his son from him, ignoring all his other duties to the Empire. With the assistance of forensics droid Z-67, Vader initially travels to Tatooine in order to learn more about his son – whilst also planning to punish everyone he’s been deceived by.

Vader is written so perfectly by Pak. He has almost no dialogue throughout the entire comic and that replicates his on-screen appearance. One of the reasons Vader is so intimidating is because he doesn’t waste words! Ienco’s incredible artwork speaks for Vader instead – as a reader you can practically feel the Sith Lord’s anger simmering off the pages. Some of the unusual angles drawn by Ienco, particularly the extreme close-ups on his mask, just add to the overall presence of Vader in each and every panel.

Another fantastic element about Darth Vader #1 is that although it’s set after the The Empire Strikes Back, it also ties-in brilliantly with the Prequels. One panel shows Vader casting his shadow onto the domed entrance of the homestead on Tatooine, just as Anakin famously does before, he goes in search of Shmi in Attack of the Clones. Also, as Vader walks around the Lars’s home he is overcome with memories, most of which are from the Prequel films. Menon has cleverly coloured these flashbacks in various shades of red which not only suggest Vader’s anger towards the past, but also how he would technically see things presently because of his tinted helmet visors.

Although the Dark Lord doesn’t do much talking, thankfully for readers Z-67 acts as narrator as he examines records and analyses locations. His personality definitely has hints of Triple Zero mixed with EV-9D9, so he has a rather macabre sense of humour that’s fun to read and balances out Vader’s seriousness. However, this first issue sees Z-67 wired to self-destruct if he reveals anything about his mission, so whether he’ll survive the entire comic series is highly doubtful!

Pak delivers one big twist ending to Darth Vader #1 that fans will be interpreting in many different ways. Who is the mysterious person right at the end? Is the familiar-looking figure a relative of Padmé? One of Queen Amidala’s former handmaidens? Or someone else entirely trying to trick Vader? It will be extremely exciting to see how their interaction plays out in next month’s issue.

Darth Vader #1 offers a unique perspective on the Sith Lord as Pak allows readers into his mind, whilst also exploring a new area for Vader in the Star Wars timeline. The many connections, both obvious and subtle, to the Prequels along with the Original Trilogy, really show the care that has gone into making this debut issue and hopefully there will only be more to come throughout this series.

Availability;

Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020) #1 was published February 5, 2020 by Marvel Comics. This issue is available via The Marvel App and from all good comic bookstores and retails at $4.99.

Kat Rees-Jauke
It was LEGO that got Kat into Star Wars in 2015. After spontaneously buying the LEGO 10188 Death Star set, she finally decided to watch the Original Trilogy and from then on was completely absorbed into a galaxy far, far away. On a very early December morning, Kat got to see her first Star Wars film in the cinema and The Force Awakens still holds a special place in her heart. With this new era of content also came her favourite character – Kylo Ren.