Star Wars: Darth Vader #1 Review

Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Raffaele Ienco, Neeraj Menon, and VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: February 5, 2020

I don’t know how many times I have to proclaim that I am an enormous Original Trilogy fan, but I guess one more time wouldn’t do any harm. I am an… you get it! Getting a rebooted main Star Wars book set between Empire and Jedi is so good, and now a Darth Vader book doing the same as a kind of Dark Side companion piece seems too good to be true! Being a “Luke guy”, I won’t lie and tell you that Vader is my fav character just to fit this book’s review. Still, he is one of the greatest villains of all-time (right there the Mayor of Munchkinland!), and without him, we wouldn’t be talking about Star Wars…or is that fighting? Wait, we aren’t on Twitter or Reddit, so we are talking, thank god! This book comes after Charles Soule’s excellent Vader solo series and, thus, has massive shoes to fill. Do the shoes fit? Let’s find out…

After a very quick crawl (is it just me, or is everyone getting lazy with them lately?), we jump into some Empire recap. “I am your father” – check. “That’s impossible” – check. “You and mom never paid attention to me, and I came up with bizarre ideas about how the world works” – check (if you are me that is). Slice the hand, lose the lightsaber, jump into the Cloud City void. Yep, it’s all there, but since this is a Vader book, we see it from his perspective and find out just how he thinks of his son. If you haven’t guessed, he is conflicted. That’s his thing, you know!

We then get to see the aftermath. Vader is not one to sit on his hands, so he loads up his shuttle and gets out of dodge before he has to deal with the Emperor. It does put Admiral Piett in a crappy position, but Vader doesn’t give two siths about Piett! At this point, the reader meets a spunky droid, Zed Six Seven. I think this is a tricky thing for Greg Pak to do. While I like having someone (or something if you are a stinking droid hater) for Vader to bounce ideas off of instead of just crossing his arms, and choking out anyone dumb enough to throw shade at the Force, Zed comes off as a bit more comic relief then I’d like from a Vader solo book. Of course, only time will tell. They aren’t alone, either, there are a handful of Death Troopers along for the ride, and they may come in handy since Vader reveals that their mission is to kill everyone who hid Luke from him. First stop…Tatooine!

Greg Pak doesn’t waste much time before making Darth the next contestant on “This Is Your Life” (Tatooine edition). It’s a gripping scene watching him remembering his mother while finding out that his son was just like him. Is Cat’s in the Cradle playing?!? It continues with Vader remembering Amidala and pretty much realizing that he has one messed up family…messed up by him, of course! While I wouldn’t call this badass, it was the best part of the issue and showed that Pak wants to dig deep into Vader’s psyche and not just slice through a multitude of enemies.

Of course, fans like the slicing and dicing and Pak gives readers that as well, thanks to a bunch of really dumb aliens. It’s the worst place, the worst time for these guys! It’s off to Coruscant then, and if you are a Prequel fan, there are some cool things for you here as we head toward the cliffhanger page… and one of the craziest things you will likely see in a Star Wars book in a long time! I will be agitated if we are seeing double here! That wouldn’t be very knightley of Pak, would it?

I liked this first issue. Greg Pak is giving a very personal mission to Vader, one that is already making him confront some ghosts from his past. It’s a smart play since we know Luke is pretty much off-limits and does set up the eventual good guy turn coming soon.

Raffaele Ienco’s art is excellent, especially when showing movie characters and scenes. Everyone and thing look like it should, and while there isn’t a ton of detail in the backgrounds, it’s the characters that are the focus, and they look spot on.

Final Thoughts:

I liked this issue a lot. Greg Pak avoids the usual Vader tropes to give readers a peek at what goes on under the helmet as he searches for Luke and all those who ruined his son, in his mind. It’s funny since that’s where some of the best scenes end up happening and that, and a crazy cliffhanger will have me back for the next issue.

9.0/10

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