DARTH VADER #4
Writer: Charles Soule
Penciller: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Release Date: August 2, 2017
Plot: In the previous issue, Darth Vader was defeated by the Barash Vow-taking Jedi Master, Infil’a. In Darth Vader #4, the Dark Lord of the Sith pulls himself back together for round 2, because we know that Vader’s journey does not end here. Using the parts of the droid he dismantled last issue he reinforces himself for battle. Meanwhile, Jedi Master Infil’a has relinquished himself from his Barash Vow after the defeat of the Sith. It’s safe to assume that he took this as adequate atonement for whatever his past mistakes or wrongdoings were when it comes to the Jedi Order.
Infil’a, believing he has defeated Darth Vader, takes it as his responsibility to find and defeat The Emperor and restore light to the galaxy. As powerful as the Jedi seems to be, I wouldn’t put it past him to actually succeed at the task. Unfortunately, he hasn’t succeeded in the first one as well as he thought. He senses the horrifying reality that Darth Vader isn’t dead, and has come to this peaceful town. He knows what he must do. Battle ensues.
Story: What I like most about Darth Vader #4, and the prior issue, is how well Soule defines that Infil’a is no average Force user. In fact, having defeated Darth Vader once already, he may even be an anomaly among other Jedi Masters. Even as the fight kicks back off, Infil’a has the upper hand on the wounded, makeshift armored Sith Lord. I’d like to think that Darth Sidious somehow knew that Infil’a or a Jedi of his caliber still existed and wanted to test his relatively new apprentice with the task of defeating him under his new title as Dark Lord of the Sith.
It’s interesting to read a story with a villain as an antagonist. As readers, we often find ourselves at a moral impasse. Some part of us actually wants the villain to win, because as the protagonist he’s the “hero” of his story, despite the fact that what he’s doing is morally unsound. Another part of us wants the antagonist, who is at times the hero, to triumph over the villain, because he’s the villain. The problem is it sits in direct opposition with the way our minds know that the story is supposed to work. The protagonist must overcome the odds and opposition.
Darth Vader defeats Master Infil’a, and when he does, it hurts the heart. There’s a sharp stab akin to what is felt when Order 66 is passed and all the Jedi fall. If you are Star Wars fans, we know that this was inevitable because Darth Vader goes on to commit far more dastardly deeds. The real anguish comes from the fact that we know that Darth Vader is not quite as skilled as Infil’a. It’s the compassion of the Jedi, and the exploitation of the innocent that allows Vader to triumph. And in the end, Infil’a is unable to save himself, or any of the people in that city.
Art: The cover is a dark betrayal of the contents of the book. Unlike previous issues it looks more like many of the covers from the first volume of Darth Vader and is very fitting for the situation at hand. Between the covers, thick lines, dark shadowing effects and rich colors make this book a beauty to read, despite the stakes of the battle at hand.
I want to give special attention to the final page of the issue. The damn broken the city flooded, and Darth Vader alone on the bridge. This alone encapsulates everything that Darth Vader is. A cold, genocidal monster that leaves everything dead in his wake. The imagery and implications in this shot, are perfect.
Verdict: Darth Vader’s first major conflict and first major task as Lord of the Sith has been resolved. This issue hurt, because as stated before, our hearts and minds are pulled in two different directions with regards to story and morality. However, when reading a book like Darth Vader, we must always expect the worst. For innovation, imagery, story, and character encapsulation, this was a perfect issue. I have no complaints.
Star Rating: 5 out of 5.