Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: Ramón Bachs
Published by: Marvel Comics
Chronology Placement: Set a few months after “Revenge of the Sith”
Once an enigmatic figure beneath his ebony mask and heavy breathing apparatus, the mystique surrounding Darth Vader has been dispelled over the past few decades as numerous novels, comic series and even his own prequel trilogy have been dedicated to exploring the man underneath. As such, it can be difficult for writers to find something new to say about the character, but this succinct one-shot from Greg Pak manages to delve into Vader’s resentment of masters, stretching back to his time as Watto’s slave and his time as a Jedi right up until his current situation with Palpatine. Set shortly after Revenge of the Sith, we have a Vader that is rough around the edges and still struggling with obedience as he did when he was a Jedi. This leads Palpatine to set an interesting challenge, forcing him to be subservient to an oafish Imperial Governor. I enjoyed how Vader followed every order to the letter, even when he wanted nothing more than to strike the Governor down, making it all the more satisfying when he found a loophole in the end to achieve his goal.
Ramón Bachs does an incredible job on the art for this issue, particularly the big splash pages where Vader takes on armies of droids and rebels. Bachs’ take on Vader is extremely effective and I love how he is able to communicate the deep rage bubbling beneath the surface as Vader encounters Governor Ahr. I really enjoyed how Greg Pak used Anakin Skywalker’s distaste for subservience to demonstrate the difficulty he has to find his place within the cogs of the Empire machine. Pledging loyalty to Palpatine is one thing, but having to acquiesce to the wishes of Imperial bureaucrats such as Tarkin and Krennic must eat up the former Jedi inside. This issue gives us a whole new appreciation for those scenes in A New Hope where Vader appears obedient to Grand Moff Tarkin.
Short, sweet and visually stunning, “Age of Rebellion – Darth Vader” manages to prove its worth in a sea of competing expanded universe materials featuring the Dark Lord of the Sith. Worth it for those gorgeous splash pages alone, this is a masterfully crafted short story with a brilliant twist in the tale that will appeal to all Darth Vader fans.
Score – ★★★★
Star Wars: Age of Rebellion – “Darth Vader” is available in a digital format from Comixology and Amazon, or collected in the trade paperback, “Star Wars: Age of Rebellion – Villains”, which is also available from Comixology and Amazon.