April 19, 2024

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Comic Review: Darth Vader Volume 4

Darth Vader completes his path to redemption and revenge as his series comes to a close.

Darth Vader is the iconic villain at the heart of the original Star Wars cinematic trilogy.

Darth Vader the comic book was a surprisingly good series from Marvel that came to a fitting conclusion with its final volume, subtitled End of Games.

Vader’s journey shouldn’t have worked.  He’s the strong silent type.  That type doesn’t often lend itself to well to a lead role, particularly in a comic series.  Factor in that he’s a villain and he’s constrained by the story as it exists in the movies thus far, and what could be done?

First, give him a colorful supporting cast.

Then give him an enemy that may be worse than he is.

Create a parallel to his son’s exploits with his team of colorful evil counterparts (the characters who often steal the show).

Create a better psychological insight to Vader using material from the prequels that actually works.

And quit while you’re ahead.

That’s more or less what writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larocca complete here.  Vader has returned to the Emperor’s good graces (in a scene where, after Palpatine finishes praising Vader, Vader turns around and first points out that the Emperor would have given the same speech to his rival had the rival prevailed and that it doesn’t matter because Vader is onboard with whatever Palpatine is doing anyway), and needs only finish off his rival Dr. Cylo once and for all.  To that end, he needs to tie up all the loose ends, which mostly involves killing anyone who knows what he did to achieve his plans, and to cement his position in the Empire.

That also means Doctor Aphra has to die, and that means dispatching everyone’s favorite homicidal droids Triple Zero and BeeTee.  Of course, Aphra got her own series after this, so she’s probably going to live.  Probably.

As the series comes to a close, Vader is about where he was at the start of Empire Strikes Back.  And me, I’m glad I gave this one a shot.  Ten out of ten cyborg rancors.