Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Star Wars: Darth Vader, Volume 2: Shadows and Secrets Review (Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca)


What is it with Kieron Gillen and armoured characters? After thoroughly trashing Iron Man with his (overlong) run, he’s now doing the same with Darth Vader - someone stop him! 

Vader now knows Luke is his son who is on the path to becoming a Jedi - but doesn’t do a whole helluva lot with that knowledge (and can’t because of the big confrontation that takes place in Empire and this is set between A New Hope and Empire). Nevertheless he continues his clandestine plans of building his own droid army, which he needs for some reason, by ripping off the Empire through Aphra, the woman on the cover. He takes out a mob leader, sends all the cash on a poorly defended ship and has Aphra and a crew of bounty hunters attack and loot the ship, taking a chunk of the plunder back to Vader’s hideout. 

The problem with this story is how thin it feels stretched out over six issues and it’s not that interesting to start with. It also seems like a really small, piddling story for a character like Vader - he should be above this wheeling and dealing with petty thieves. Oh, and remember that dull subplot from the first book where Vader was assigned an auditor whom he “dealt with” permanently? Gillen trots it out again in the form of an inspector who threatens to reveal Vader’s hidden activities and it’s still not any more compelling the second time around. 

I really don’t like Aphra, the annoying “spunky” female character who’s basically the main character, and that irritates me more - Vader’s a supporting character in his own book! I picked this up to read about him, not some idiot called Aphra! I also hate the evil Artoo and Threepio, those derivative clowns. Ugh, and why not visit Naboo to remind everyone of the awful Prequels? Pass the vomit bucket… 

Salvador Larroca’s art continues to be the highlight of this series with his clean lines and imaginative eye for creative angles. The use of wide panels to simulate a cinematic look continues to be effective and Edgar Delgado’s colours are utterly beautiful. Larroca and Delgado make this feel like a real Star Wars story even if Gillen’s hamfisted script doesn’t. The Ghost-Face alien character design though was pretty terrible. 

Darth Vader should be one of the best titles on Marvel’s publishing schedule but I don’t think it will be until they boot Kieron Gillen off it. He rarely manages to produce great comics and he’s definitely failing with his lacklustre, uninspired take on Vader. This second volume is boring and irrelevant - the Dark Lord of the Sith deserves better!

Star Wars: Darth Vader, Volume 2: Shadows and Secrets

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