REVIEW: Star Wars Darth Vader #2 – “Not A Jedi”

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STAR WARS: DARTH VADER #2
Writers: Charles Soule
Penciller: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker: Cam Smith
Colorist: David Curiel

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 6/21/17

Emperor Palpatine still has Anakin Skywalker under his sway despite Padme’s death, turning him into the Sith Lord Darth Vader. Now Vader has been sent on a mission to find a surviving Jedi and slay them in order to corrupt the kyber crystal within their lightsaber. But how to accomplish such a thing when the Jedi appear to be no more?

Plot: Darth Vader #2 begins with a pair of storm troopers bickering amidst ‘Jedi junk’ in the outpost called Brighthome, concerned about whether or not their fighting days are done. Luckily, that question is answered in the negative when an incoming ship approaches with Vader inside. While he has the ability to transmit authorization codes and enter peacefully, Anakin prefers to fight.

Story: A large part of Darth Vader #2 is spent with two heretofore unknown troopers: Ding and Kicker. Though they are clones, their personalities are immediately distinct and equally entertaining – and their stories expand the Star Wars universe by honing in on how the bombastic events we’ve heard so much about affect new characters that Soule makes sure we care about.

By the time Vader himself enters the scene and begins his attack, I’m already so invested in Ding and Kicker that the battle has real stakes beyond learning the details of Anakin’s story. We already know Darth Vader will emerge with a red lightsaber, but what happens to the poor storm troopers who are caught in his path? Not to mention that these relative nobodies also pronounce on of the most significant lines spoken in the issue: “Okay. That’s definitely a Jedi.” Because no matter how far he falls, Anakin Skywalker was and always will be a Jedi – and not even Darth Vader can kill that part of himself.

Soule’s deftness in quickly switching from tense drama to comedy, without feeling out of step or missing a single beat. In this issue, Darth Vader’s A.I. sidekick provides much of the comedic relief with its snarky but helpful conversation in a way that was very reminiscent of K2SO in Rogue One. He not just a fun companion, though – he provides valuable information to further the plot and leaves readers in excited suspense for Darth Vader #3.

Art: It is a testament to the art team of Star Wars: Darth Vader #2 that they manage to make every page look dynamic despite the story taking place almost entirely in one location. It is perhaps even more impressive that Camuncoli and Smith are able to convey the emotions of every character through lines and ink without any of them having visible facial expressions. Even without the excellent dialogue, Darth Vader’s exasperation can be seen in the tension of his arm or back in any given panel. Various Storm Troopers, such as Ding and Kicker, can look determined or afraid in the same battle sequence just by expertly tweaking a few lines on their masks.

The coloring is rich and vibrant, as well, thanks to David Curiel’s color palette. He utilizes the lights in every scene to great effect, such as the green glow of an abandoned light saber that Vader uses to decimate troopers, or the blue light of the A.I. as seen above, or even the explosion emanating from a bomb. It’s necessary to keep the stasis of scenery away, and the artists do it very successfully.

Verdict: Star Wars: Darth Vader #2 introduces a few very compelling characters while exploring Anakin’s psyche in a very interesting yet oblique way. The story has a remarkably fast pace and will most certainly be leaving readers in a frenzy of anticipation, hoping to officially meet Kirak Infil’a next month.

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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