Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Darth Vader 25, originally released October 12th,2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
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.
Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Star Wars: Han Solo 1, originally released June 15th, 2016.
Taylor: Towards the end of A New Hope, it seems like Han is going to abandon the rebels in their time of need, choosing instead to take his money and run. We all know how the rest of the movie plays out, but what we don’t know is how and why he endears himself to the rebels thereafter. By the time we see Han again in the Empire Strikes Back, he’s a general, and it’s clear he has both the admiration and trust of everyone in the rebellion. But how did this happen? How does Han go from a gallant rogue to a respected general? Why does he join the rebellion instead of paying off the price on his head? Issue one of the Han Solo miniseries has the answers.
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.
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.
Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Star Wars: Poe Dameron 1, originally released April 6th, 2016.
Michael: Poe Dameron is in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens just long enough for us to know that he’s cool and that we want to know more about him. There is no denying that Oscar Isaac’s brief (but memorable) role as Poe was a joy to watch. With his charm, wit, and optimism, Poe Dameron was a combination of Luke, Han and Lando. It’s no surprise then that Marvel chose Lando scribe Charles Soule to tackle another smooth talker in Poe Dameron. Does this first issue lay a foundation for further understanding the elusive cool guy Poe? Does this feel like a necessary addition to the strong Star Wars line?Continue reading →
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 →
Today, Michael and Taylor are describing Darth Vader 16, originally released February 10th, 2016.
Michael: I think that Darth Vader is the favorite among the other Star Wars titles (at least at Retcon Punch) because it is chock-full of dramatic moments and nuanced characters. The power struggles and political battles of Darth Vader are somewhat reminiscent to a show like House of Cards. Darth Vader 16 is kind of a lull in the ongoing narrative that focuses on the particulars of the power struggles that Vader encounters.
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Obi-Wan and Anakin 2, originally released February 3rd, 2016.
Spencer: There’s nothing new under the sun. I don’t believe that’s a concrete truth — every once in a while somebody still trots out an idea that legitimately surprises me — but for the most part, it holds up, and I’m okay with that. A story doesn’t need to be wholly original to succeed. Sometimes they can rely on our previously established affection for the characters, and other times those familiar tropes can be told with new twists or different contexts or in support of deep themes that make them a joy to read regardless of originality. Sadly, I don’t think I can make that argument for Obi-Wan and Anakin 2. There’s nothing in this issue that gets me invested in its very familiar story. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Chewbacca 5, originally released December 30th, 2015.
Taylor: In the new Star Wars movie, it’s apparent that director J.J. Abrams wanted to make Chewbacca a more rounded character. The need for doing this is plain – Chewbacca is one of the main characters in the Star Wars movies, but he’s little more than Han Solo’s charismatic shadow. Abrams rounds out Chewbacca by having him interact with more characters than just Han and by also giving him more heroic things to do like blasting stormtroopers. For the most part I find this to be a fairly successful venture into Chewbacca’s character. He’s portrayed as being important but not to the point that his language barrier interferes with things at all. The Chewbacca comic series similarly attempts to flesh out this character, but as issue 5 highlights, it is not nearly as successful as Episode 7.
Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Chewbacca 4, originally released November 25 2015.
Michael: Remember in Revenge of the Sith when Anakin Skywalker was arguing that from his point of view the Jedi were evil and we all laughed? Flawed storytelling aside I think comic book fans can agree that the big difference between heroes and villains is their perspective. “History is written by the victors” is probably an overused statement but nonetheless true. Simple Star Wars logic dictates: Rebel Alliance = good, Galactic Empire = bad. I’m not sympathizing with The Empire here, but Chewbacca 4 had me examining the actions of our “heroes.”