Star Wars: Darth Vader: Volume 1

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Illustrator: Salvador Larroca

Distributed By: Marvel Comics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                I enjoyed Dark Horse's Star Wars comic books, but I missed Marvelís take on the Star Wars Universe.  Now, Marvel is back, creating new stories for the Star Wars characters we all know and love and I have had the opportunity to check out some trade paperbacks in this new series for free.  This time around: Star Wars: Darth Vader: Volume 1

                Collecting the first six issues of the series, Star Wars: Darth Vader: Volume 1 takes place in the middle of Star Wars: Volume 1: Skywalker Strikes Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, Chewbacca, R2D2 and C3P0 have just destroyed an important Imperial weapons factory.  Darth Vader has gone toe-to-toe with Luke Skywalker and he is intrigued.  Though he is nowhere near his match, Darth Vader realizes that this young man was to be Obi-Wan Kenobiís new apprentice.  The youngster is even in possession of Anakin Skywalkerís lightsaber.  Most perplexing!

                Unfortunately, the Emperor sees the loss of their weapons factory and the Death Star as failures belonging to Darth Vader.  He has lost faith in his apprentice and has decided that the new Death Star will be built with Tagge in charge and Vader under his command.  Though this rankles Vader to no end, itís the Emperorís secret plans that truly have Vaderís attention.  He decides to allow the Emperor his indulgence while running a secret mission of his own.  Traveling to Tatooine, Vader hires two bounty hunters Ė one to capture Obi-Wanís former apprentice so he can make him an apprentice of his own, and one to capture the half-cyborg/half-man in charge of the Emperorís secret plan.

                We know from Skywalker Strikes that Boba Fett fails to capture Luke Skywalker, but does come back to reveal the identity of the young man that has so peaked Vaderís interest.  Now, in this series, we learn that Vader has a great reason to worry about the Emperorís plans.  The Emperor is cultivating possible replacements for his apprentice.  Though this shouldnít surprise him much, given Palpatineís history with apprentices, it is still somewhat aggravating.  But Vader has a plan centered around a skilled hacker and an army made up of assassin droids.

                I loved Star Wars: Vader: Volume 1!  The storyline is excellent, filling in the gaps of the Skywalker Strikes thread and then some.  The idea that the Emperor is looking for a replacement apprentice is nothing new, especially when we think back to Palpatine cultivating Anakin as a potential apprentice while Count Dooku was his current apprentice.  What I find strange is that this group of potential apprentices has no Force ability.  Is this a test of Vaderís loyalty, his belief in himself or his prowess?  Or is the Emperor worried that his apprentice might try to take him out?  After all, an individual less in tune with the Force has less of an opportunity to assassinate his master.

I really liked Dr. Aphra for her daring nature and the straight-forward way she talks to Vader.  She knows sheís expendable, but is loving every minute of the work Vader throws her way.  One thing I really loved were the flashback moments in which Vader makes certain realizations about his master, about his lot in life and about his son.  The assassin protocol and astromech droids are the exact opposite of R2D2 and C3P0, but the banter is so similar Ė itís hilarious!

Of course, reading this on a Kindle Fire made for an even more enjoyable experience with the cinematic movement of the panels.  The artwork was terrific Ė extremely detailed and well done all around, but it is so much more fun to read it this way.  I highly recommend it! 

Star Wars: Darth Vader: Volume 1 was a fun read and I canít wait to read more from this series!


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