In Review: Darth Vader #14

A must-read Star Wars tale that has Vader at his finest. Recommended.

The covers: Two different covers for fans to find. The first echoes an iconic scene from the film Apocalypse Now featuring Darth Vader rising out of the water the way Martin Sheen emerged. This is nice homage from Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti, given that the issue takes place on the water world of Mon Cala, though all I can hear as I look upon this frontpiece is John Williams’s theme to Jaws. The Galactic Icons Variant cover features the galaxy’s most famous Wookiee, Chewbacca. This is a gorgeous image of the world’s most famous co-pilot with the character illustrated as he is in the upcoming film Solo. I love both covers, but the cover by Rod Reis on the variant is irresistible. Overall grades: Regular A- and Galactic Icons Variant A+ 

The story: The second chapter of “Burning Seas” by Charles Soule begins during the Battle of Dac City. The Mon Calamari and Quarren are trying to fight back against the Imperial onslaught, but there’s no way they can beat their superior technology. Vader, Ninth Sister, Tenth Brother, and several troopers make easy work of those around them. Vader wants to proceed to the palace to speak with King Lee-Char to learn where surviving Jedi are hiding on the planet. When asked by Tenth Brother if the king hasn’t evacuated, Vader responds that he knows his highness well, and Soule then has a flashback to a time during the Clone Wars where some familiar faces saw the king ascend to the throne. The story then moves to Lee-Char’s war council, where plans are made to evacuate the surface dwellings, while notifying the Empire they should leave. This leads to the story moving briefly back to the Sovereign where a famous Imperial is contacted, which is followed by the hiding Jedi. This is a stunner, for the robed Jedi reveals his face. This Jedi is of the same species as the character initially played by Khan Bonfils (So if you’re dying to know, you’re going to have to Google that name yourself if you don’t know this actor). What this character reveals to the others is major, resulting in a tremendous decision that changes the water world. The final page is a fantastic jaw dropper of a cliffhanger that will leave fans screaming to see what happens next. This was an amazing issue that featured some iconic characters and some incredible moments. Overall grade: A+

The art: This issue looks fantastic. If one is a fan of war on a massive scale, the opening page will be a dream come true as it shows the Imperials engaging the natives on several fronts. Giuseppe Camuncoli provides the pencils and Daniele Orlandini the inks. The second page is a powerful one that shows how the villains have fared against the denizens of this world, with Vader fantastically taking the spotlight by bleeding out of one panel and into another. Vader’s progress in the first panel on 3 shows him to be fearless and strong with his decisions. However, it was Page 4 that me screaming in joy as several familiar heroic faces from The Clone Wars appear. Though they only appear for four panels, their appearances are incredible. This is followed by two more familiar faces that look incredible and bring a incredible amount of joy for how well they are rendered. I was starting to go into overload with all the iconic characters, and then Camuncoli and Orlandini get to create the visage of one of the franchise’s greatest villains. The calm, cool, and deadly presence of this character is a perfect realization of the actor who portrayed this individual. Then we get to the Jedi scenes. Wow. Fantastic. The setting is great, hinting at a scene from The Last Jedi and covering so much history of their order in an extremely clever visual way. Page 10 shows the leader of the Jedi making a surprisingly emotional response to a traumatic moment in the third panel. It was surprising and just so cool. The tease of the monstrous threat, on 13, is great, with the full reveal on 15 incredible. The partial double-page splash that follows is beautiful for the details put into this high level of destruction. The power of one Force user that begins on 16 is massive. The final page is composed of three panels that show a character’s progression wonderfully, creating a marvelous sense of motion. I can’t praise these visuals enough. Overall grade: A+

The colors: David Curiel is the book’s colorist and his contributions are also fantastic. The first page that shows the battle from several points of view has several fantastic colors, including blue, red, orange, and metallic gray. Notice how the shine coming off Vader’s armor on the second page draws the reader’s eye to him. The sky behind his close-up at the bottom of the page is beautiful, with a slight burned flavor to remind the reader of the violence that’s just occurred. The colors for the flashback are given a patina to age the visuals. Holograms are given a slick blue that’s similar to the projections from the films. The brown background during the scenes with the Jedi gives them an ancient tone, symbolizing their future to be a dead one. The colors used for the threats on 13 and 15 are unexpected, but perfectly in line with their origins. The blues that follow are beautiful and overwhelming, matching the action on the pages. The darkening of colors as the panels progress on the final page create a great sense of depth. I love Curiel’s work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The text on this issue by VC’s Joe Caramagna includes scene settings, dialogue, sounds, transmissions, droid speak, and Aurebesh. My continual displeasure at the font used for dialogue continues with this issue, with Vader’s words holding no sense of threat or danger due to their thin, weak design. That aside, the sounds are terrific, especially with all the action that happens in this issue’s climax. There’s a brief appearance of some Aurebesh, which I’m sure can be translated, but I always gloss over this in any book so that I can continue with the story. Overall grade: B+

The final line: A must-read Star Wars tale that has Vader at his finest, reshaping a world while hunting Jedi survivors. Every character is fantastic and every visual is a masterpiece. This is why Star Wars comics continue to be devoured by fans. Recommended. Overall grade: A

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Darth-Vader-2017-14/digital-comic/637821?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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