Star Wars #13 Shows How Unlucky Life is for Darth Vader
By Boyd Reynolds | Staff Writer Published: 01/08/2014 10:00 am EST
Publish date: January 8, 2014 Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
In 2003, The American Film Institute listed its top 50 movie villains. Darth Vader ranked number 3 behind Norman Bates and Dr. Hannibal Lecter, who gained top honors as the epitome of celluloid evil. While I might disagree with Vader’s third place ranking (being a Star Wars fan through and through), he is without a doubt one of the most iconic bad guys in history.
Star Wars #13 offers an interesting snapshot into what life is like being Darth Vader. More distinctly, it shows what life is like for the unlucky few who have to work for the guy. Star Wars #13 picks up following the last issue—the Rebels have just thwarted a major assault by the Empire and playing an integral role in the Rebellion’s victory was a traitor high in the Empire’s ranks. Vader has taken it upon himself to discover how this traitor could have infiltrated the Empire and punish those responsible, or those who might have been responsible, or those who simply irritate the Dark Lord of the Sith. For Vader, people need to be punished, whether they’re Bothans or high ranking officials in the Empire itself. A spectacle needs to be made of them.
There will be blood.
While it is fun to watch Vader in full force, choking subordinates and issuing murderous commands to his small detachment of Stormtroopers, Star Wars #13 isn’t the best from Brian Wood’s spectacular series. Unfortunately, the comic falls on the heels of the terrific multi-issue storyline before, involving a great assortment of favorites from the original trilogy. The plot was sharp, the action tight, and the artwork mesmerizing. There is a clear let down in this issue. Part of this has to do with what it had to follow, but part also with a story that, while interesting, never pulled me in as vigorously as I had been before.
While the comic tries to be creative as it follows the internal thoughts of a lower-ranked female officer who is brought in on Vader’s mission to pilot his crew, the plot is a little thin and this great series dips down ever so slightly. Something holding the comic back as well is the absence of artist Carlos D’Anda. While Facundo Percio’s artwork was solid, he isn’t D’Anda, who has brought such intense detail and emotion to a galaxy far, far away.
However, there is one series of panels which captured my undivided attention. Vader is alone in his room and comes upon the voice of a recently deceased Jedi Master. Vader confronts the voice, which leads to an intriguing idea Wood has developed with the Force. While we knew this Jedi could talk through the Force to the good guys, we didn’t know he could speak to a Dark Lord as well. It opens the door for Wood to explore Vader’s character unlike anything we’ve seen from Lucas’ films. Wood has presented Vader as a defiant apprentice. He is not wholeheartedly under the Emperor’s thumb. There is a significant fire in his belly; a once proud Skywalker determined to do things his way.
Although Star Wars #13 slows the momentum created by the series, this version of Darth Vader might make for compelling reading in issues to come.