If you’ve been longing to see Darth Vader unleash his full mastery of the dark side in ways rarely seen in any Star Wars media, you need to get yourself a copy of Star Wars: Vader Down #1. Pronto.
Written by Jason Aaron — the man behind the excellent ongoing Star Wars Marvel comic series — and illustrated by veteran artist Mike Deodato, Vader Down #1 is the ultimate in truth in advertising. Having recently discovered that Luke Skywalker was responsible for blowing up the Death Star, Vader has made it his primary mission to find Luke and turn him to the dark side. His sources have placed Skywalker on Vrogas Vas, the site of an old Jedi temple where Luke is trying to find out more about using the Force.
That things go badly when Vader arrives is evident from the title. What the Rebels don’t realize, outside of Luke, Leia, Han Solo and a precious few others, is that Vader is no easy target. He might get shot down, but the effort it takes is incredible, and even once you’ve got Vader cornered, it only means he might have you right where he wants you.
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Thus, Aaron and Deodato give us page after page of Vader surprising the Rebels with the extent of his powers. This is a badass Dark Lord of the Sith the likes of which we’ve rarely seen, juxtaposed with an inexperienced yet still effective Luke. It’s tricky filling in the spaces in the established canon with stories like this, but Vader Down promises to be one of the best stories we’ve seen since Marvel regained the Star Wars comic book license.
Deodato’s art is a bit more impressionistic than what we’ve seen from the Star Wars line so far, but it works well for scenes like a two-page spread of a devastated X-Wing squadron and the set-up for the confrontation in the last two pages. The feeling of dread his style conveys is almost like that of a horror movie, which is plenty fitting for a villain like Vader.
Familiar characters all sound like they should, as Aaron continues to show his knack for getting all of their distinct voices just right. It’s a shame this same creative team isn’t handling the whole six-part tale — Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca are doing the Darth Vader issues in this crossover — but that shouldn’t stop you from picking this up. The fury of Vader is something to behold, and while he may be down, he’s definitely a long way from out.