Hello there friends. Sorry to be gone for so long with the Star Wars Darth Vader series. This is due to a few different reasons the main one being the massive demand for issue #3 they say. Apparently “they” being marketing departments think seeing a hot woman on the cover of a Star Wars comic makes fanboys go crazy and make retailers run out quickly. “They” would be right. It took a second printing issue of issue #3 for me to get a hold of one. So long in fact that I had already purchased Darth Vader#4 long before it arrived. So this month’s Star Wars Darth Vader’s review will be a double dose of my “fun” and “unbiased” opinions and reviews.
So printing and distribution grumblings due to attractively drawn characters aside. Let’s get down to business.
We’re starting with Star Wars Darth Vader issue #3.
Writer: Keiron Gillen
Pencils: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Cover: Adi Granov
This issue like the previous others take place showing a character other then Darth Vader starting off the story. In this case Doctor Aphra trying to sneak into a security controlled facility to obtain some forbidden droid AI that was top secret and locked away. The first few pages are well drawn and colored beautifully. A testament to the art is the fact that the first 5 or 6 pages have hardly any dialogue aside from Aphra grunting and trying to sneak through security laser sensors. She’s caught and theres a small nod to Indiana Jones where Aphra argues with the security attendant about the AI being a treasure and shouldn’t be locked away in the museum “It belongs in an armory!” Aphra shouts. Larroca drew Aphra in that scene very, very similar to Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade arguing about artifacts “Belong in a Museum!” talking of old treasures. Aphra’s facial expression is nearly identical and Aphra who is also a rogue archaeologist just as Indy was wears attire that’s very Indy-esque.
After a small confrontation when she’s caught red handed Vader makes his appearance. He arrives in his TieX1 advanced and Larroca draws the landing gears from the lower fuselage of the fighter putting into canon that bent wing Tie Fighters need a parking rack or landing gear to park on hard surfaces. But Tie technology aside Vader decides that these security droids and attendants that are holding Aphra are in the way and quickly force throws them away. Aphra catches the AI chip as it falls off a ledge and Vader pulls her up telling her she’ll be assisting him.
Vader takes Aphra to her large ship the Arc Angel which is well designed I must say I don’t recognize the design but it’s true I didn’t read the entire E.U. So after docking the TieX1 Vader explains some battle droids he recently battled against (see issue#2) were impressive and he wants assistance with her expertise. One of the best drawn pages is when Aphra asks Vader how he found her. The page is filled with panels showing how Vader intimidated a bunch of malcontents to find the good Doctor Aphra. No dialogue is given from Vader for those panels nor is it needed showing the overpowering characterization Vader brings to a story. Aphra says she needs help decoding the security for the AI program which Vader does easily for her to her surprise she thanks him and installs the AI into a charcoal colored protocol droid.
I notice Larroca draws Aphra’s face more then I had expected I’m sure he used a face model from an existing person for Aphra as most artists do but he worked it in so well that Aphra looks very… provocative when leaning in close to the protocol droid to install the AI. The protocol droid himself introduces himself as 0-0-0 or Triple zero. He reminds me of prim and proper C3PO if he was a homicidal butler. The reason Aphra is waking up this murderous protocol droid is because the AI used was also the coded language a prototype attack astromech droid BT-1 speaks. Aphra can’t get the second droid to wake up without the proper coding and language and Triple Zero can get that accomplished.
Aphra talks, a lot. A lot, a lot. To the point where Vader even says “You are overly fond of speaking.” Aphra replies it’s because her work being stressful and being in the same room as a Sith Lord who destroys thousands of rebels daily who could easily kill her as well makes her nervous. Larroca draws Aphra in the scene sitting in a ball against the wall with her head in her hands as she tells Vader this. It makes her look like a young woman who’s been so weary for so long it’s exhausted her. Oh and for the massive amount that Aphra speaks Vader speaks hardly ever. The pairing works well as too much dialogue would make the scenes cluttered. Eventually Aphra asks Vader why he has taken her to help him. Vader’s response is poignant, he replies “I had armies at my beck and call. That time has passed.” Showing how Vader is not as favored as he once was with the Emperor.
The scene ends with Aphra telling Vader she understands her next job for the droid Gotra is now on hold as she is now Vaders for use for this assignment and the next and the next. Aphra stands and looks at Vader saying “You’re what I’ve been looking for all my life.” Now, it’s portrayed as a man and woman facing each other as many romance shippers (whom I belong to) often get in media. However Aphra turns away from him in the moment and says saying that gave her shivers. I like to think she may be playing for the moment but Aphra says she felt herself insignificant compared to Vader’s life, maybe she wants to be significant. Vader tells Aphra he needs troops of unquestioned loyalty, Aphra knows this means battle droids. She knows where to find them, a secret battle droid factory being watched by the Empire on a planet called Geonosis. She asks Vader if he has feelings to go on a secret mission there. Vader pauses and says he has none… the solo shot of Vader’s red lenses from Delgado’s color makes me think he does…(dramatic music plays).
In the last panel the Arc Angel goes into hyperspace as Aphra says she wont let him down. He simply replies. “Wise Aphra. That would be a mistake.”
All I can say is day-um. A great looking girl kind of falling for the seductive power Vader oozes even when not in the Emperors favor and a pair of homicidal droids to boot? I COULDN’T WAIT to read issue #4!
And that’s good because we’re continuing with Star Wars Darth Vader issue #4!.
Writer: Keiron Gillen
Pencils: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Cover: Adi Granov
So issue four, the second part of the Doctor Aphra arc in Star Wars Darth Vader. The pair headed to Geonosis on information that a Geonosian Queen had survived it’s sterilization and was in command of a droid factory underground.
When they reach Geonosis the Arc Angel drops Aphra and Vader off with the pair of homicidal droids they reactivated. Aphra asks if he has ever been to Geonosis before. For a panel Larroca shows Vader remembering the kiss a short haired Anakin Skywalker gives to Padme. Vader replies to her to cease her probing of him. This part I found interesting because it wasn’t just an ignoring comment nor Vader taking it as a random question he saw it as something Aphra was digging to learn about him.
Inside the cave system the pair of droids go deep into the tunnels and come across funky looking old battle droids. This is where I have to comment on Delgado’s colors on pages 4 and 5 are gorgeous and I’m never one to go deep into colorists work. But the reflection of the fire from the battle on Triple Zero and BT are sheer eye-candy. The most awesome part of it all was Keiron Gillen’s last panel where Triple Zero says a line in Geonosian that is translated at the bottom of the page. I wont spoil it in what is said but lets say to me it was comedy gold.
The next scene Aphra and Vader walk through the droids firefight aftermath and Aphra gives the reader some back story that the Geonosian queen who is immortal has to continue their species by using the droids. So she turned to science with the droids factory hooked up to her body to splice her genetic imprint into her eggs and hatches the droids giving them the funky look and the queen seeing the droids as her children. There’s a huge splash page showing the Queen with Vader and Aphra and droids in tow overlooking her egg chamber drawn and colored beautifully. As the four of them stand there gawking Aphra asks Vader if he still thinks this is a good idea. Vader in his Vader way answers in one word. “Yes”… while he leaps off of the ledge they were standing on light saber ignited in hand landing on the Queen’s body. The Geonosian Hive Queen looks up as he leaps shouting “Has the Empire not taken enough from the Geonosians with your bombs?!” Again Vader being as awesome as he is simply replies “No.” As he slices through the Queen’s connection of her womb and her main body. Vader force pushes the Queen’s main body away as she screams to her minions to attack them and stop them. Again the stoic Vader says his third word of dialogue since the battle starts just saying “Now”. Alerting BT and Triple Zero to open up all their weapons on the attacking hatched droids. Triple Zero and BT-1 open up on the hatched droids in devastating fashion. Then Aphra tells Vader the locator beacon they have needs to be on the top of roof of the Queen’s hatching room and Vader with no words spoken flicks his wrist and force throws it to the roof of the room garnering more of Aprha’s appreciation of his power.
Aphra calls for Arc Angel to bombard the locator beacon and blow a hole to get them out of there. The shots come down and Vader uses the force to create a safety barrier so the falling rock wouldn’t hurt him and Aphra who was huddling next to his boots scared. A second later a tow line is lowered into the Queen’s chamber and Vader hooks it to the platform the Queen’s droid womb was attached to. Aphra asks him if he’s sure the pretty little ship he brought will be able to tow such a heavy load.
Vader who at this point has said maybe three words since the battle started simply tells Aphra not to worry that his ship has certain enhancements. As the platform with the droid making womb is raised with our four characters along for the ride beyond the Queen’s underground chamber the next page shows the J-type 327 Nubian royal starship from Episode One (not be confused with the J-type diplomatic barge that was bombed in Episode Two) pulling them up as Vader is well colored with the setting sun on his armor saying “It’s stronger then it looks.”. The next panel shows the old Naboo Royal ship flying away from Geonosis. Giving a nostalgic feel but also showing Vader is having to dig deep into his personal resources to get his private army set up.
The final scene of the issue is inside the Arc Angel which by the way shows the TieX1 and the Naboo Royal ship docked to it and it awesome that Larroca made sure to put that in even though it wasnt needed. But I digress, inside the Arc Angel the first of the droids (a clone wars commando-esque one) is pumped out. Aphra gets a little remorseful, she is kneeling down in front of the droids womb factory and she starts talking to Vader without looking at him as he stands ominously behind her. This page got me thinking… “sigh… cliché …but not unusual for a Sith Lord.” Aphra simply goes over the situation saying the droids are needing a little tweaking but nothing that Tripe Zero and BT can’t fix in a few hours. Aphra then goes on saying “So… are you planning to kill me now, or later?” Vader doesn’t reply of course. He’s said all of about five lines of dialogue this entire story arc and him standing as a agent of death over her looked symbolic. Aphra asks if she has a say she’d prefer a lightsaber through the neck without warning but if not possible to please do it in a way other then ejection into space. She always feared that. A moment passes and she turns looking at Vader saying she knows she acts glib (again since Kanan#1 glib smh) but she wasn’t stupid she knew her clock was ticking the moment he got off his Tie fighter.
The next panel is mirrored as the romantic shipping view of issue #3’s boy and girl view. Though this is the more break-up version of that panel. The dialogue doesn’t begin again until the next panel were Vader tells Aphra she’s safe as long as she is useful to him and warns her never to use her position or information against him or her life is over. The next panel Larroca captured Aphra’s shock and amazement in the same expression so well it even mirrored my own at Vader’s allowance of Aphra’s life. Even when she later says he can trust her even though she’s a walking talking risk and if he needs to kill her she says just to do it with a light saber please. The scene could delve deeper between the pair but then Triple Zero interrupts saying the wookie bounty hunter from Tatooine (see issue#1) has arrived with a man Vader wanted to interrogate.
The next scene is with Vader talking to the prisoner while being held by the wookie. The prisoner says he wont talk but Vader has the great line “If I wanted you to talk, you would.” But Vader has to leave so he lets Triple Zero do the interrogation. The final scene has Triple Zero arrive saying the man’s name was Cylo-IV and that he didn’t survive the interrogation. However he did give up the base of operations he was using and that it was particular because it held the information regarding the Emperor’s replacement for Darth Vader. Vader not taking kindly to learning he’s soon to be replaced sets course for the base’s of his soon to be rival’s location immediately.
All in all I can say the arc has been good. I like our favorite Sith Lord wasn’t a fan of Aphra’s continued talking all the time until he tells her he’d prefer silence. After that she mellowed out. I was a fan of how Vader said so little and let his actions speak for him. It’s a tribute to the work Larroca put into Gillen’s story to flesh out so many panels with little or no dialogue over the two issues. While I’m not sold on the pair of homicidal versions of C3PO or R2 I’ll let it ride to make sure they don’t become an annoyance. Then there was Vader’s allowance of Aphra. Who said she knew she wasn’t anyone in the galaxy and was honored to be near the blood of a person with a tale worth telling. Vader lets her live and while it was out of place had her usefulness for him come to an end I suspect he’ll have need for her later. Aphra even says she wants him to win for the greater good. I’m thinking she’d be a loyal subject to Vader and he see’s that as useful.