Unknowability is a Strength in Star Wars: Darth Vader 3

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

Last month when discussing Darth Vader 2, I counted the fact that Darth Vader largely remains a cipher in his own series as a core weakness in Charles Soule’s story, but with Darth Vader 3 I think I have it all wrong. It’s still true that readers looking for a deep, complex shading of Darth Vader won’t find it here, but really, who wants that in the first place? The Prequels were predicated on the audiences’ interest in “understanding” Darth Vader, and those were terrible. The world already has enough context for Vader’s actions thanks to years and years of pop culture indoctrination. Darth Vader as a mostly silent, imposing villain is optimal Darth Vader. It’s the difference between original Halloween Michael Meyers and reinvented Rob Zombie-era Halloween Michael Meyers. Continue reading

A Post-Order 66 Universe is Fleshed Out in Star Wars: Darth Vader 2

by Mark Mitchell

Darth Vader 2

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I’m not quite sure what to make of this new Darth Vader series yet, especially after an issue like Star Wars: Darth Vader 2, which indicates very little interest in the titular character himself. Like the first issue and its reveal of some previously un-seen optical lens settings in Vader’s helmet, it’s the details around the main Vader story that make reading worthwhile — albeit heavily dependent on your interest in the minutia of the Star Wars universe. Continue reading

Star Wars: Darth Vader 1: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Michael: The transition from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader in the Star Wars prequels was anything but seamless. By the end of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Anakin sure looks and sounds like Darth Vader but it’s clear that he’s still the irrational Hayden Christensen manchild underneath that black armor. With their new Darth Vader series, Charles Soule and Guiseppe Camuncoli hope to give us a more satisfying bridge between Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader than the prequels. Continue reading

Best of 2016: Best Series

best-series-2016

We all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a brand new creator-owned series or a staple of the big two, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. That bigness was on full display this year, as series made grand statement after grand statement about what they were all about. These are our top 10 series of 2016.
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Darth Vader 25

darth-vader-25

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Darth Vader 25, originally released October 12th, 2016As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Taylor: Darth Vader stands alone in pop culture. He is at once terrifying and relatable, a killer and a loving father, a villain and a hero. Perhaps the reason for his enduring popularity is that Vader cannot be defined by one singular trait. Like every human, he changes over time, is sometime good and sometimes evil, and is all too fallible. Ultimately this is what makes him a character that is uniquely memorable. Despite controlling an ancient mystical power, using a sword made of pure energy, and conquering the known universe, what makes him an essential character is the simple fact that he changes. In the final issue of this amazing run, Darth Vader explains once and for all why there is such a big change in the Lord of the Sith between Episode IV and Episode V in wonderful fashion.

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Darth Vader 21

darth vader 21

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Darth Vader 21, originally released June 8th, 2015.

Taylor: One of the things film geeks have come to appreciate about Episode IV is the way George Lucas incorporated techniques pioneered by Japanese director and genius Akira Kurosawa into his movie. In particular, Lucas draws from Kurosawa’s most famous film, the Seven Samurai, which was eventually remade for American audiences as the Magnificent Seven. That Star Wars would be so closely related to a film about cowboys shouldn’t come as a surprise. In many ways, Luke and Han are heroic space cowboys fighting the their way across the open plains of the universe, battling against those who would oppress their freedom. Darth Vader 21 returns Star Wars to this western and in so doing cleverly inverts my assumptions about the motif in fun and new ways.

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Darth Vader 20

darth vader 20

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Darth Vader 20, originally released May 11th, 2015.

Taylor: The old adage goes that silence golden. If nothing else, being a middle school teacher has taught me that this is true. Don’t get me wrong: I love it when kids talk and discuss in class, but the only time I’m not with a room full of kids during the day is my 20 minute lunch break. More than even my lunch, what I treasure about the my break is the beautiful silence. No kids yelling, no scuffing shoes, and no one to interrupt me. Point is, silence is golden. In monthlies, it’s clear that authors often feel the need to pack in as much information as possible. Reasons abound for this and the place to discuss that isn’t here. However, I quiet moment in a monthly is such rare thing. Darth Vader 20, on the other hand, has mastered the use of the pregnant pause, to great effect.

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Darth Vader 19

darth vader 19

Today, Taylor and Patrick are describing Darth Vader 19, originally released April 13th, 2016.

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Taylor: Clarity is something that is important to all narratives. One of the things that made the Star Wars prequels a shadow of the films that spawned them is that they lacked clarity. In Episode I, the script is muddled with confusing and distracting talk of trade negotiations and droid armies. In Episodes II and III it’s unclear whether we should be rooting for or against Anakin. The point is, it’s important to be clear when telling a story. Darth Vader 19, is ostensibly clear, but there is enough confusion in some key scenes to make me just wonder, hey, wha happened?

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Darth Vader 17

darth vader 17

Today, Taylor and Michael are describing Darth Vader 17, originally released March 2nd, 2016.

Taylor: Part of Darth Vader’s mystique is that he’s a loner. He’s solitary, unknowable, and ultimately dangerous to those who both know and don’t know him. This penchant for solitude is part of what makes Vader fearsome. There are few people in the universe who can take on entire platoons of soldiers alone and emerge victorious, but Vader is one of them. Pair this with his basic distrust of just about everyone and everything and it’s no wonder the galaxy fears him. He is ultimately unknowable and what people can’t know they necessarily fear. In his black robes, Vader is essentially the embodiment of black hole: he can’t be known, he destroys all that come close to him, and ultimately he is misunderstood. Issue 17 of Darth Vader explores its titular character’s isolation and shows us how that is both the source of his downfall and ultimate redemption. Continue reading

Best of 2015: Best Series

best series 2015
We all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a brand new creator-owned series or a staple of the big two, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. That bigness was on full display this year, as series made grand statement after grand statement about what they were all about. These are our top 10 series of 2015.
Continue reading