“No. I am your father.”
Last year, Lucasfilm drew its famed Skywalker Saga to a dramatic (albeit controversial) conclusion. The Star Wars story, of course, shows no sign of stopping in the new extended canon. Fresh off the heels of The Rise of Skywalker, Marvel Comics has relaunched its line of Star Wars titles- kicking off with scribe Charles Soule (Daredevil, Curse Words) taking over the main series, as well as writing The Rise of Kylo Ren prequel miniseries. Although would the Star Wars saga be without Darth Vader, the glue that binds the entire story together?
Having had two solo title runs since 2015, the Dark Lord of the Sith has led what are arguably the best stories in the extended canon. After a short stint on the main Star Wars series, writer Greg Pak (Planet Hulk, Agents of Atlas) teams with artist Raffaele Ienco (Batman: Sins of the Father) to set out and continue this trend with a beautifully haunting debut to their story in this month’s Darth Vader #1.
The issue begins by picking up the pieces of Vader’s life in the aftermath of The Empire Strikes Back. The Dark Lord’s obsession with finding and turning his son to the dark side has reached its peak. However, with this obsession comes the ghosts of Anakin Skywalker. This seems to be what the main theme of this run will be. Whereas Kieron Gillen sought out to tell the story of the monster that Anakin had become, with Soule showing us the conflict within Anakin that made him become this beast, Pak takes another unique approach. We begin to see the conflict take hold of Anakin’s heart again, but in another direction, thus kicking off his journey back to the light that concludes in Return of the Jedi.
This debut issue relies heavily on flashbacks to the films that chronologically came before it, nearly to a fault. However, these flashbacks are paired with Vader’s reaction in the present, which makes the issue so brilliant. Even with the helmet on, Ienco conveys so much emotion in the Dark Lord as the pain of his former life begins to slowly pull him apart through heartbreaking visuals and parallels.
Even with the heavy reliance on flashbacks, there is no way to possibly tell where this story is going. The last page of the issue indicates the potential to be the biggest bombshell in the Star Wars story since we learned that Leia was also Vader’s child (not to mention a creative risk that I personally cannot wait to see payoff). No spoilers here- this is something you need to see and digest for yourself.
Beautiful and haunting with its art; tragic and unpredictable in its writing. Darth Vader #1 is a must-read for Star Wars fans. It most certainly has me hyped to see what happens in the issues that are to come.
Score: ★★★★ 1/2