Marvel has done rather well with its Star Wars-related comics. Though my own personal reading is largely confined to a pair of Darth Vader trades, the fact that a book about Darth Vader managed to be interesting despite the fact Vader would be heavily chained by the existing movie’s continuity says someone over there is doing something right.
That brings us to the crossover between Vader’s title and Star Wars, titled Vader Down.
Here’s the thing about Darth Vader in these stories: he never seems to break a sweat. Saying little and doing as he sees fit, Vader basically gets results. Tipped off that Luke Skywalker, the son he didn’t know he had, is on a distant, lifeless planet that may have once had a Jedi temple, Vader goes there and finds the Rebels engaged in aerial war games. Though he takes a number of the Rebels down, Luke himself collides with Vader’s TIE fighter and sends both craft to the planet’s surface.
That’s actually the only confrontation Luke and Vader have in the entire story. With Han, Chewy, Leia, and 3PO en route to try and rescue him, and an entire battalion of Rebels looking to bring down Vader, Vader’s own back-up comes when his associate Dr. Aphra comes to the planet with the homicidal droids and a Wookiee bounty hunter in tow, and that’s where the fun comes in for the good guys as the two groups square off.
Vader, meanwhile, has to deal with a cyborg competitor for Vader’s spot in the Empire’s hierarchy, and Vader is no more impressed by him than he is the various Rebels he keeps running into.
The book ends, naturally, with no final confrontation between Vader and the heroes of the Rebellion. In fact, only one of those characters even gets close to Vader while the others just do what they can to survive Aphra and her associates. Of course, that final confrontation played out on the big screen, so such was to be expected. I’ll be giving this eight poisoned Wookiees out of ten.