I always was a little put off by Darth Vader's popularity. Yeah, he's a tragic figure and all, but he's also a child murderer and the face of galactic fascism. I guess I just found the admiration and love for such a figure a little confusing. He's perhaps the most famous, and popular, fictional mass murder next to Hannibal Lecter. Anyway, Disney's Marvel Comics is bound to wrangle what they can out of the old heavy breather and Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca are the perfect combo to do The House of The Mouse's best with the galaxy's worst.
What's Happening: Darth Vader has just lost what was to be The Empire's final solution, The Death Star. Billed as Emperor Palpatine's ultimate peacekeeping weapon (Aren't all weapons of mass destruction-fictional and real-billed as such?), The Death Star made the Galactic Senate obsolete. Now without the Senate or The Death Star, keeping the illusion of control over the growing Rebellion will be more difficult than Palpatine would like. After a serious verbal berating of Vader, and a reduction in his rank, Palpatine sends him off on a seemingly insignificant mission to the outer rim, perhaps to remind Vader where he comes from. Vader makes the most of his visit though, not just to indulge in a little more mass murder, but to set events of a personal nature in motion...
The Writing: Kieron Gillen has been a favorite of mine since his time on Marvel's Uncanny X-Men and he does something unique and interesting with Vader here in the pages of Star Wars Darth Vader #1. He shows just how much Vader really is Palpatine's lap dog. His portrait of Vader isn't flattering in the least (unless you are a fan of Vader's murderous tendencies with a lightsaber). He's much more the Vader of the final moments of Revenge of The Sith here than he is the brooding Dark Lord of The Empire Strikes Back, and that's a good thing. Still, Vader is incredibly smart, and already Gillen makes sure that the attentive reader can sniff out Vader's burgeoning plans to overthrow Palpatine by recruiting Luke. It's all brilliantly subtle, and that's the beauty of it. Gillen is flushing out the motivations, the actions, and the events that bridge the story between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Brilliantly done Mr. Gillen.
The Artwork: Speaking of brilliant, Salvador Larroca's artwork brings the Star Wars universe to beautiful sequential art life. He captures the cinematic look of the films and its character's visages masterfully, while giving it all his own special touch. His full page spreads are breathtaking and poster frame worthy. Joe Caramagna's colors light the whole affair in the alternating cool and warm tones of Jabba The Hutt's sanctum and Coruscant's perpetual late afternoon glow.
The Verdict: Anything Kieron Gillen writes I'll read. I will especially read his take on Darth Vader, all the more so since it isn't a flattering glorification of evil...at least through issue #1.