Darth Vader #6

by Kalem Lalonde on June 06, 2015

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Lorroca

Darth Vader’s solo book has found difficulties balancing character and plot. On one hand the Vader material is always top-notch while on the other, the plot hasn’t been too strong. This remains partially true in this week’s instalment, however it is also a dip in quality for this series. Marvel’s Star Wars line hasn’t been crossing over its titles successfully because a lot of the ties just feel like rehashed material from the other books. Unfortunately this grander misstep and a weak first half make this the most disappointing issue of this series yet.

Gillen has made this book great based off of sheer character. Vader’s look, voice and arc have all been pitch-perfect and akin to the Star Wars trilogy. Gillen found a great balance of nostalgic and original character-work with his protagonist. Unfortunately, the former half of this issue doesn’t involve much character at all. It is simply exposition for 8 pages by means of introducing Vader’s new competitors. This gives Salvador Lorroca an abundant amount of new characters to draw but it slows the story down too much to warrant its allocated pages.

The latter half was something that I saw described as Kieron Gillen intelligently reminding readers that Vader was once Anakin Skywalker and frankly, I was underwhelmed. It’s a great moment for the character but I can’t help but feel strange reading it again. This is the exact same moment we’re given at the end of Star Wars #6 and I find it gratuitous for both series to give their interpretations of the same scene. The silence Aaron used effectively communicated Vader’s emotions in a concise manner. Gillen’s interpretations of the scene, while strong just didn’t feel good enough to make up for the fact that I had already read the scene. I understand that when people read this in trade, it’ll be a lot better. But given the release schedule of the two titles and which one I read first, this became a misstep for not just this series, but the line as a whole.

That isn’t to say that the writing is bad as a whole. Gillen still writes masterful dialogue for Vader and portrays the character perfectly. He brings back a great angle to this aspect of the series in the form of Vader’s dynamic with Palpatine. You feel the dramatic tension as these two discuss the current events of the book. It helps you sympathize with Vader because, in truth, he’s being abused by someone who he looked up to.

At least Salvador Lorroca doesn’t stumble in this issue. It feels like Gillen wanted to take a step back for this issue and let his artist take the lead. As previously stated, the first part of this book feels like it was dedicated to Lorroca drawing new aliens. This is where the artist shines, bringing creative designs to a book that absolutely requires them. Whatever you may think of his faces, Lorroca is an A-list talent when he’s drawing Vader and various alien life forms. That’s what really matters in this issue.

Darth Vader #6 is the book that makes me worry for Marvel’s Star Wars line. These book have been tightly tied together and that is working out to be more of a flaw than a strength. The final scene is being regarded as one the best scenes of this series and while it may be a great writing achievement, I also feel that it’s a big editorial slipup. It also doesn’t make up for the sluggish and uninteresting first half. Ultimately, this was a decent entry in this series but could’ve been infinitely better and that’s why it disappointed me. 

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A Look Inside