In Review: Darth Vader #3

The Force isn't strong in this, it's tremendous. Absolutely recommended.

The covers: An appropriate trio of covers to find for this third issue of Darth Vader. The Regular cover is by Olivier Coipel and features the title character constructing a ball of Force energy to hurl at Jedi Master Kirak Infil’a, who’s about to bring his lightsaber down upon the Sith Lord. Powerful cover with sensational colors. The first Variant cover is a recolored and textless version of this color, featuring darker tones to make this a more moody piece. The final Variant is by interior artist Ciuseppe Camuncoli. This has Vader in the foreground raising a fist in anger, while behind him, in the snowfall, is a gigantic, ghostly image of Infil’a, with his lightsaber held in a waiting stance. Equally powerful as Coipel’s cover. Overall grades: All A

The story: As a Sith, Vader needs to take a lightsaber from a Jedi and corrupt to make his own. He journeys to the Mid-Rim, river moon of Al’doleem. Before his arrival, writer Charles Soule focuses on Kirak Infil’a. The Jedi is building objects using the Force, when a purple blade appears behind him. He ignites his lightsaber and blocks the attack from droid Arex. As the two spar, the droid tells him that fighting while assembling four Padawan’s traps might result in him losing his focus. He does not, and he’s able to knock the droid down without striking its body. “Something is coming,” he tells his droid. “Something…dark. Prepare the mountain’s defenses.” The scene then moves to Vader on his incoming ship. His droid informs him of two objects coming at their vessel, which Vader is unprepared for. What follows is a slow build to a massive battle between Vader and a full Jedi. The confrontation between the characters is not forced or rushed, with Soule moving the story at the perfect speed, with Vader doing all that can to make this battle end quickly. Given Infil’a’s strength, it won’t be easy. Before the two spar, the Jedi reveals why he is alive and what he’s doing in isolation on this moon. Fans online have suggested that Infil’a’s reasons will be revealed to be the same as Luke’s in The Last Jedi. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t impact this story because it is epic. Pages 9 and 10 have the Sith confronting something I’ve not seen him battle in any comic adventure. When Vader reaches Infil’a the battle is quick and ends on a shocking cliffhanger — I doubt anyone will have seen his coming. My hat is off to Soule for creating a fantastic Jedi and giving Vader a foe he’s worthy of. My grade for this issue will go up if the conclusion is as strong. Overall grade: A 

The art: The pencils on this issue are by Giuseppe Camuncoli and the inks by Cam Smith. This book looks incredible. If a reader has been itching to see Vader fight a Jedi, your dreams have been answered gloriously. The first page is a fantastic introduction to Infil’a, whose legs are crossed in meditation, floating off the floor, with metal shapes floating around him. Apex’s attack is on Page 2 and is a full-page splash. Infil’a has dropped to the ground, with an arm to support him, as he swings his blade Ahsoka style. The next page is composed of nine equal sized panels, showing the Jedi constructing his traps, while battling and defeating the droid. The Sith’s walk to reach the Jedi is set in an incredible canyon, with Infil’a having the high ground. Page 7 has the pair attacking each other with very little dialogue, but being a visual stunner. The first obstacle that Vader faces, on 10 and 11, is flat out awesome. The damage to Vader is shown at the bottom of 11 and it left me agape. The visuals tell the reader that this is not going to be a fluff battle. The first four panels on Page 15 show the hatred in Vader spectacularly. There’s no dialogue and Camuncoli and Smith communicate this anger brilliantly. 18 and 19 are awesome payoffs to the story’s build, with an action shown in the sixth panel leaving me screaming. The final page is a cliffhanger and a full-page splash, closing out the issue in epic style. No salvation is in sight, rightfully leaving the reader on the edge of his or her seat. This book looks spectacular. Overall grade: A+

The colors: This book begins with an incredibly solemn tone due to the colors by David Curiel. The first page uses browns and bronzes for the sky, giving Infil’a’s introduction a religious feel. The traps he’s constructing have appropriate metal tones, which are mirrored in Arex’s body. The green blade of the Jedi has it standing out in every panel it appears in, while Arex’s weapon is an alluring violet. Vader’s approach to and journey through the valley of the moon provides Curiel opportunities to show the beautify of the surroundings, with warm browns and beautiful greens and blues. When Infil’a reveals himself to Vader, he’s colored in blues with piercing yellow eyes. This makes him peaceful, yet menacing. Every shade of blue is used on 10 and 11 and Curiel makes this obstacle look beautiful. The sounds are given extra punch with the work from Curiel, making them bright and explosive. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, sounds, dialogue, droid speak, and yells are created by VC’s Joe Caramagna. I’m still not liking the font for dialogue on Star Wars books, but it’s not as bad this issue because Vader says so little. It’s interesting to note that Vader’s droid and Arex share the same font, as droids, which makes sense, though they have different dialogue balloons. This denotes that they sound differently, which is very clever way to show it. There are also several terrific sounds in this issue, making me happy, but Infi’a’s lightsaber must have on a silencer; Page 9 would have benefited from an ignition sound. Overall grade: A- 

The final line: This is a comic that wouldn’t have me thinking twice to pay more for, it’s that good. Vader has a foe that can give him a run for his money, there’s a possible tease of something that could be used in The Last Jedi, and the visuals are perfect. The Force isn’t strong in this, it’s tremendous. Absolutely recommended. Overall grade: A  

To purchase a digital copy go to

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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