Darth Vader #1

by Kalem Lalonde on February 11, 2015

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Lorroca

With this new Star Wars reboot, Marvel have impressed the vast majority of readers and have found an astounding level of success. That is precisely why Darth Vader #1 excited me so much. Not because it was featuring an iconic villain or because of the creative team. But because Marvel seem to truly want to put out quality Star Wars content with their new line and so far, they have succeeded to do so. Now comes their second Star Wars series, Darth Vader. I was a tad worried about this book because one of my only flaws with the principle Star Wars comic is the lackluster portrayal of Darth Vader but that is not a complaint here. Kieron Gillen has found the perfect way of rendering the Dark Lord of the sith in another great Star Wars comic from Marvel.

With this first issue, Kieron Gillen has demonstrated his strong writing chops through a perfect portrayal of Darth Vader. Under Jason Aaron, the character boasts too much and doesn’t resonate with me the way he does in the original trilogy. But Gillen writes dialogue is so akin to the Star Wars movies that I could hear Vader’s dark voice in my head. This comic portrays Vader as the commanding and frightening presence he is but doesn’t ignore his complexity. Gillen Vader’s is a tortured man who is constantly abused by a man whom he sacrificed his soul for.

 Through a long scene about the failures of Lord Vader, Gillen explores the dynamic between the two siths fantastically. I’m hoping that their relationship becomes a focus of this series because the dynamic is so tragic and powerful. Vader must resent his master but he also looks up to him and emulates his form of command. If anything, Darth Vader is a character torn down by tragedy and this relationship communicates that perfectly.

In terms of plot, this book doesn’t have all that much to offer just yet, unfortunately. It has evident ties to its sister series and even rehashes some of its events. Though, this comic is perfectly readable on its own and doesn’t rely on its sister title to create a story. The direction this comic will take is still nebulous as Gillen hasn’t truly set-up many plot opportunities. While the character-driven nature of this comic doesn’t demand a very complex plot, I am still a little underwhelmed. A primer issue should captivate you with its story in some way and aside from character, there wasn’t much to be found here.    

Salvador Lorroca is an artist that is very hit or miss for me. It’s strange. His style seems to change up for every series he pencils. Thankfully, though Lorroca is mostly a hit here. First off his rendition of Darth Vader is nothing short of marvelous. He expresses the characters malevolence and power through his posture while using lighting to portray his emotions. Lorroca is at his strongest here while drawing Vader and other alien creatures as his human figures can look a little off. There is a scene in which he must draw a scene from the recent Star Wars #2 and his Luke Skywalker was extremely weak in comparison to John Cassaday’s. As well as a few murky figures, his action can come across as a little stiff and too linear. Complaints aside, though I do think that Lorroca did a great job pencilling this issue and his art is definitely a strength rather than a detriment.

Darth Vader #1 expands upon Marvel’s great new Star Wars brand with a great portrayal of the best character in this universe. Kieron Gillen is a writer who fathoms this complex character and writes him to perfection. He remains as frightening and subtle as he was in the original trilogy and proves to be a strong lead. Though, this issue’s story failed to captivate me in the way Marvel’s first Star Wars books has. Gillen has yet to pave a clear direction for this story but hopefully he’s not lacking in ideas because his shinning portrayal of Vader won’t be able to carry this comic forever.  

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