Published: August 14, 2019
Rating: Rated T
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Penciler: Stefano Landini
Cover Artist: Nic Klein
THE HUNTER BECOMES THE HUNTED! VALANCE and DENGAR track DARTH VADER while also seeking out the perfect weapon to kill the SITH LORD…which they’ll need as Vader turns the tables on the hunters and corners them! And both hunter and hunted uncover dark secrets behind the criminal syndicate known only as THE HIDDEN HAND.
It seems to have been a rather long wait for this issue to finally hit the door step. The first issue was everything a first issue should be, great writing, great art and a lot of anticipation for the next issue.
However, on opening of the issue, I was a little dismayed to realise that the artists from the previous issue had been replaced! Not a great start. Issue one had some of the finest artwork I had seen, and I was looking forward to seeing more. The new artist, Landini, isn’t as crisp with his work as the previous artists and I’ll be honest, I thought I wouldn’t like it. However, the further into the issue I got, the more I really began to relax and enjoy it. The main reason being that his artwork reminds so much of the early Dark Horse Star Wars comics, in particular the work of Cam Kennedy in Dark Empire. The way the frames flowed, and the motion captured, it transported me back to my early years reading said comics. It is that sort of nostalgia that I really like, and although I still wish there hadn’t have been a change of artist, Landini has persuaded me that I’m going to enjoy the rest of the series just as much with his artwork.
Last issue I said that Vader stole the show, he does here again. Thompson is using Vader perfectly; I have never seen Vader utilised so well before. Thompson uses him almost like a ghost: brief glimpses, the effects of his presence and only ever for a few panels. It leaves you wanting more, a lot more, and yet to do so would rid us of this wonderful display of Vader. A lot of writers could do with taking note of how Vader is used here as he is this overbearing menace that is hardly ever seen, yet you know is there. I’m sure there will come a point where Thompson does need to show him more, but at the minute I’m thoroughly enjoying the show.
This is a story of characters (aren’t they all?!) and what shines through with Thompsons work are the characters. I’ve said how well Vader is used, and the other characters are also worked to perfection. There have been other series that I have read, where a team of characters is not really utilised apart from the main one. Thompson tackles this by giving is small character moments with each of the members of the core group. It reminds me very much of Irvin Kershner and the character moments he gave us in The Empire Strikes Back. They don’t move the story on, but they convey so much of the character to us, that they are a vital component. Through this, Thompson allows us to get to know each of the characters, to empathise with them and provide the humour for the story.
One final mention is of Valance, the fact that we are getting some more backstory for him. The fact that he was born a miner yet has the Empire to thank for his freedom. It’s an interesting notion. Most people, including the Rebels, fight because of the freedom lost and I like this other point of view that for some, the Empire is seen as the bringer of freedom. I’m not sure how Thompson will build on this, but I look forward to finding out.
Make no mistake, this is a story of characters. Each is given their own time to shine and is used flawlessly by Thompson. Yes, Vader steals the show but not at the detriment of the characters. They are given as much chance to shine and leave an impression on the reader. Coupled with artwork that really harkens back to the early days of Dark Horse, you are left with a comic that leaves you with wanting more. I complained in Imperial Cadet that it wasn’t long enough, and I have a sneaky feeling Target Vader is going to be the same…
Target Vader is a six-part series available from Marvel. This issue is available via the Marvel App and all good comic bookstores. This issue retails at $3.99.