Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Star Wars: Darth Vader - Dark Lord of the Sith, Volume 1: Imperial Machine Review (Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli)

How did Darth Vader get his red lightsaber? Better question: who fucking cares?! That said, while this may be the flimsy plot of Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli’s first volume in the rebooted Vader series, Imperial Machine surprisingly wasn’t that bad.

I liked that Soule didn’t write any internal monologue for Vader so he remains aloof from the reader, as mysterious, cold and menacing as he is in the movies. In fact, there’s a good balance throughout between writer and artist with Soule knowing when to step back and let Camuncoli tell the story with his impressive, sweeping cinematic visuals.

And I also liked that Vader is not the invincible force of nature that we’ve seen in other books like Vader Down. Imperial Machine takes place directly after Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, so Anakin has only just been reborn as Vader (the widely-mocked “NOOOO!” scene opens this book - a bold move). We see him still dealing with the immense physical, mental and emotional trauma he endured in that movie, as well as getting to grips with his unfamiliar new robot body. There are also the remnants of the struggle within him between the Light and the Dark Side of the Force. Vader remains formidable but it was interesting and refreshing to see his moments of vulnerability here.

Despite his minor setbacks, it’s still a predictable story with Vader smashing through the contrived obstacles Soule throws in his path like the new rogue Jedi, Master Infil’A, who’s as flat and unmemorable as any of the new characters Soule’s created during his Marvel tenure for the Inhumans, Daredevil et al. Most of all, I couldn’t shake the impression that I was reading a mountain of a molehill with the big “climax” taking place on Mustafar as Vader created his lightsaber and leaving me thinking “… meh.”

It’s no must-read or especially memorable but Darth Vader, Volume 1: Imperial Machine is entertaining enough in a shallow, mindless way.

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