Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Darth Vader #3 - Marvel Comics

DARTH VADER No. 3, May 2015
It is hard to imagine George Lucas’ incarnation of the Sith Lord ever being as anaemic and impotent as the version found within the pages of Issue Three of “Darth Vader”. For although writer Kieron Gillan pens a somewhat enjoyable swashbuckling (light)sabre of a tale involving thievery, skulduggery and droids, his titular character would appear to have little in common with the angry, hate-driven bedevilled presence seen in the original “Star Wars” motion picture trilogy. Instead the former computer game journalist has his Lord Vader nonchalantly leaning up against data walls with his arms folded, casually watching his latest employee waste time tinkering with the internal workings of the disappointingly named protocol droid Triple Zero; hardly the intimidating Imperial force, within whose presence most officers cower.

Perhaps understandably the former Jedi has lost some of his arrogant swagger following his failure during the Battle of Yavin and the subsequent destruction of the Death Star. He has after all been demoted in disgrace by Palpatine and must now work to the orders of Grand General Tagge; a commanding officer whose mathematical methods the Sith clearly despises. But bearing in mind the ruthless cyborg was previously working under the orders of the Grand Moff Tarkin, does such a sanction really mean that “the time has passed” when he had armies at his “beck and call”? There seems little plausibility to such an argument and thus scant justification behind the once mighty ‘right hand’ of the Emperor needing to personally skulk in seedy back street bars just to track down a rather unimpressively luckless Doctor Aphra.

All such a contrived storyline demonstrates is how ‘out of character’ Gillan has Palpatine’s apprentice behaving, and how woefully unoriginal his narrative of Vader leading a small party of two droids and a scoundrel on a secret mission looking for hidden data sounds. Fortunately the British comic book writer does occasionally depict Luke Skywalker’s father as the powerful Sith Lord most “Star Wars” fans will clamour for. His single-handed victory over Utani Xane and a squad of super battle droids on Quarantine World III is as impressive as it is murderously swift.

But most of the good points about this issue rest upon the shoulders of artist Salvador Larroca, and even then these rapidly diminish as the page count swells. Indeed it would seem that the former cartographer becomes increasingly bemused, and as a result his pencilling disappointingly inconsistent, the more the bewildering plot twists and turns. This confusion seems most noticeable during the Spanish artist’s final few pages, where he depicts a worryingly cartoon-like doe-eyed Aphra and a Darth Vader whose Durasteel helmet seems to periodically rise and fall in length at the back.
The variant cover art of "DARTH VADER" No. 3 by Salvador Larroca

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