Darth Vader (2020) #7 Review

by NumidianPrime on November 13, 2020

Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Raffaele Ienco
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel

This week's installment in Greg Pak's run on the Darth Vader series explores Vader's struggle to survive the fires of his birthplace, Mustafar, while pursued by one of the Emperor's deadliest assassins. 

This arc seems to clearly kick off what will be a story that serves as a prequel to last year's The Rise of Skywalker, tackling Vader's relationship to three different major elements introduced by the film: Ochi of Bestoon, the cut Eye of Webbish Bog, and Exegol. While I wasn't the biggest fan of some of those elements as the film used them, one thing I've always liked about the Star Wars expanded universe is its dedication to expanding on and sometimes redeeming lesser-loved parts of the films. Ochi, who gets the most focus this issue, is certainly more menacing here than his portrayal in the film, and I'm more interested in his backstory than I was before. The arrival of the Eye of Webbish Bog in this issue was a bit sudden and convenient, but I'm still interested to see what the next issue has to say about its history. 

I thought it was good choice for the series to have Vader revisit the installation where he murdered the Separatist leaders decades earlier. It continued the ongoing theme (visualized in memorable and striking flashbacks by Ienco) from the last arc of Vader's past catching up to him and continuing to bother him, which is important for this series as it takes Vader closer in the timeline to his redemption in Return of the Jedi. I did think it was a little odd that we haven't seen or heard much about Vader's castle on the planet considering it's been such a big part of both the character and the planet in recent storytelling, but Vader hasn't left Mustafar yet so there's still the potential to see it later. 

I'm a little bit tentative about how the rest of the arc will play out because I think it'll be a challenge to balance all of these different and somewhat unrelated elements from The Rise of Skywalker while telling a satisfying Vader story that fits with the direction of his character arc, but the series hasn't disappointed me yet. I'm happy to see the writer/artist team stay the same for at least the first two arcs, I think the ongoings work well when they have consistency like that. This series has been a nice surprise for me and I'm looking forward to seeing what directions the future arcs go, even if this arc doesn't end up landing perfectly for me.

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