Considering the position Vader was put into in the first issue of the series that bears his name, it was good to see Gillen using the pages on Issue #2 to show that while the Dark Lord is on a tight chain, he is far from toothless. One of the interesting aspects of Star Wars when the original trilogy was released was the evolution of Vader. First he was Tarkin’s leashed dog, then in Empire he brought ruin to the heroes, and in Jedi he was largely irrelevant compared to the Emperor. Darth Vader #2 shows a Dark Lord who, like his Episode IV incarnation, was tied down to follow the orders of another, but is still as dangerous as his Episode V version. Vader bends the rules of his “obedience” to Grand General Tagge in so far as he is capable and then uses deception, sabotage, and murder to keep himself far, far from his new master’s command. Again, considering the idea of chaining Vader to Tagge, Gillen has done a great job of showing that Vader might serve the Emperor, but his loyalty does not mean that anyone, imperial or pirate, will be spared if they get in his way.
Gillen’s ability to present a Dark Lord who is as unknowable as he is fearsome is paramount to making sure a comic such as this succeeds. Vader’s final page in issue #2 mirrors the same style of revelation readers received from issue #1: they might think they know the depths of Vader’s mind, but seeing how he interacts with the living and the non-living has become fascinating.
Also worth noting? Any time Prequel Era droids and ships are brought into the Original Trilogy Era, it can be a treat. Seeing pirates revamp Droideka Destroyers to slaughter stormtroopers? Priceless.
Another aspect that continues to shine is how well Larroca’s art enhances Gillen’s story. The slick, gleaning chrome of spaceships and the deadly burst of fire from explosions are well suited to Larroca’s detailed art style and his rich attention to detail. A particular sequence showcase the power of his artistic flair. The first is a series set within the blood-red hallways of a pirate ship. The minimalist panels and ominous shadows create a great backdrop for the richly detailed Vader to prowl and plot in.
If there is any complaint that can be leveled against a comic with such a well-crafted Vader being displayed through such great art it is this: one might wonder where the over-all plot is moving. The events of Star Wars #1 show that Vader does make progress towards finding, then loosing, Luke … so is Vader meant to serve as a backdrop comic to that series? With two comics of Vader brutally killing those who get in his way to finding Luke while he is berated and commanded by his superiors, Vader as a comic series needs to progress towards a more defined plot for Vader that can serve as a comic on its own, not just as a comic which bolsters the plot of the main Star Wars title comic.
All said, Darth Vader #2 is a great continuation of the series which should hopefully explore (in Palaptine-voice) a great many things in the future.
The Verdict: 8.0/10