This latest chapter in Darth Vader’s solo series is the second entry in the Vader Down story arc. Last time we saw Lord Vader he was following Luke Skywalker to a planet that used to contain a Jedi temple, Vrogas Vas. However, when he arrived, he was met by a wall of X-Wings as the Rebel Alliance has begun occupying the planet.
Being a superior pilot, Vader starts to shred through the rebel starfighters, forcing Luke to be heroic and crash his ship into (unknown to him) his father’s. Vader emerges from the wreckage only to be met by a platoon of rebels completely surrounding him.
Darth Vader#13 opens with Darth Vader’s encounter with the first wave of rebel forces to be thrown at him. As expected, he rips through them with no problem and begins heading towards Skywalker’s crash site. Leia meets with rebel commanders and they begin planning their assault on Vader, Han tries to borrow a speeder, Chewie is repairing the Falcon – there isn’t much going on here.
Orbiting the planet is Darth Vader’s secret confidant, Aphra, and her murder droids. Vader suspects she has set him up and knew about the rebels occupancy of Vrogas Vas, and proceeds to intervene and force her to once again prove her loyalty. Luke and R2 realize they’ve crashed next to an old Jedi temple and Luke begins to have a really silly hallucination. He sees two cloudy figures heading towards them and assumes they are Ben Kenobi and his father Anakin Skywalker.
After the pretty impressive set up from Vader Down #1, this issue was quite a step back. I’m not sure what sort of limitations were put on writer Kieron Gillen but this book was a whole lot of nothing. It’s understood that there are limitations to where you can take a story, given that this takes place between two of the most popular movies ever created; but that doesn’t mean fun shouldn’t be had. At this point in Marvel’s glorious run of Star Wars‘ comic books, you should no longer be moving books just because they’re Star Wars books.
The rest of the Star Wars comics currently out have been fantastic, but this issue just doesn’t quite meet the standard set by the others. It’s filled with half-hearted references to classic moments from the movies, which immediately comes off as a forced interactions. The characters themselves are all acting obviously unlike themselves just for the sake of this poorly executed part of the Vader Down adventure.
The one highlight of the story is how unstoppable Darth Vader is, and he has a few really bad ass moments. In the other issues in this series, the shady and shamed adventures of Lord Vader have been fresh, exciting, and legitimately interesting. There is none of that in Darth Vader #13 but there are still good Vader moments.
For the most part the artwork in this issue looks pretty good. There are some uninspired and lazy looking panels, and one close-up on Han that looks like one of those air-brushed t-shirts you find on a boardwalk. Star Wars art usually stands out and comes to life in its space battles and planet environments – there isn’t any of that here. All of the action takes place on the ground floor of a dusty and dull planet. There isn’t anything jumping off the page in this issue like most of the other Star Wars books.
In the end, Darth Vader #13 is only one sub par book in a vast collection of really good recent Star Wars comics. Vader Down #1 was the beginning of an exciting showdown to kick off an epic adventure. Hopefully, Vader Down #3 picks that back up and this sad entry can be quickly forgotten. This issue wouldn’t look so bad if the other Star Wars comics weren’t so satisfying, but a mere five pages in and readers will see that Darth Vader #13 is obviously inferior.