Comic Review: Darth Vader (2020) #2

Published: March 11, 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;

Lee’s direct cover is brilliant because it could be either Padmé or a handmaiden standing sassily and ready for action before the glaring visage of Vader. After all, Vader was technically the reason for Padmé’s demise, and that’s implied by this cover. The anniversary variant by Sprouse is the complete opposite, capturing a sense of Rebel celebration, whilst Ienco’s sombre cover captures Vader in a beautifully contemplative way.

After clues hidden in Padmé’s old apartment on Coruscant lead Darth Vader to the jungle planet of Vendaxa, he comes face-to-face (or at least, face-to-mask) with a ghost from his past. However, it is not Padmé standing before him, but rather one of her loyal handmaidens. As it transpires, they are both searching for answers as to what truly happened to the Senator of Naboo, and the two decide to form an unlikely alliance.

Last month’s finale of Darth Vader #1 had Star Wars fans in a frenzy of speculation as to the identity of the mysterious figure standing before Darth Vader. Those who guessed one of the Queen’s handmaidens were correct and can now give themselves a medal of Yavin! Pak has ingeniously woven this new Darth Vader series with the ending of Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston, where Sabé vows to avenge her Queen. She was a very strong character in that book and Pak has written her just the same in his storyline, having Sabé even give orders to Vader – and the Dark Lord not protesting! It will be extremely exciting to see how Pak will continue to write this relationship, and whether or not Sabé may discover Vader’s true identity.

Pak may write a strong woman in this issue, but he also explores a different, almost unseen side to Vader. When talking to Sabé he’s almost gentle. Almost. There’s a quick Force-choke because this is still Vader we’re talking about, but haunted by what he did to Padmé he’s swiftly stopped by grief. This is also probably the only time Vader ever asks someone not to be afraid of him, again all for the sake of Padmé. Seeing this grief-stricken, haunted version of Vader makes Darth Vader #2 an emotional rollercoaster of a read, and as a reader you can’t help but feel some sympathy.

Ienco’s artwork continues its amazing parallels to the Prequels in Darth Vader #2. Some of the best panels from the entire comic are when Vader fights back-to-back with Sabé, which appears next to flashbacks of Anakin battling alongside Padmé. All of the drawings of Sabé are fabulous because there are enough similarities and some slight differences to the Queen of Naboo, that until the revelatory moment, as a reader you’re second-guessing yourself. However, the highlight of all this art is that Ienco manages to convey emotion across Vader’s helmet: shock at seeing someone so similar to Padmé, curiosity over the stranger’s identity, and respect when Sabé holds her ground. All of this Ienco achieves just by changing the lighting or posing of Vader’s mask!

Imperial forensics droid Z-67 continues to help narrate this story and Pak gives him a brilliant little moment near the end of this issue. Sabé commands the droid to do something outside his programming and Z-67 indignantly responds in a manner more befitting C-3PO. Although his humour isn’t as pronounced when compared to Darth Vader #1, it’s still thankfully there, if even in only a few panels.

Darth Vader #2 has opened up an entirely new way for this story to progress by introducing another character who knew Padmé, and therefore Anakin, so well. This painful trip down memory lane for Vader can only get more torturous as next issue he visits the one planet with the most he wants to keep buried in the past – Naboo.

Availability;

Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020) #2 was published March 11, 2020 by Marvel Comics. This issue is available via The Marvel App and from all good comic bookstores and retails at $3.99.

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.