STAR WARS: DARTH VADER #3
A newly fallen Anakin Skywalker faces the first true test of his dark side powers in STAR WARS: DARTH VADER #3 from Marvel Comics. Author Charles Soule’s script finds Vader on his quest to forge a Sith lightsaber. However, a Sith cannot merely build a light saber as it must be taken from a fallen Jedi. With Jedi being hard to find since the purge Vader has set off to a distant planet to hunt down Master Kirak Infil’a, an ancient Master who has been meditating in isolation for years. Upon arrival Vader is instantly tested by traps, beasts, and then finally Infil’a himself. While Vader is infused with the rage of the Dark Side it might not be enough to best his foe. Vader must learn what will fail him first, his hatred or his broken body?
Darth Vader is one of those characters whose initial introduction to the world left his back story a mystery. We learned the hard way that sometimes those questions are best left unanswered as our mysterious villain’s cryptic past becomes a less than stellar known quantity. Regardless of your opinion of the prequel movies the story of Anakin Skywalker is no doubt a tragic one and this second volume of the Darth Vader solo series seems to dwell on that fact. He is not overly powerful, he is unarmed and unsure, and he is at the whim of a newly crowned Emperor who has set him on an impossible task. Charles Soule takes this and runs with it creating a story about Vader that paints him more as a force of nature. Pure hate and rage without the fine control over his powers that he would come to know in later years. With little training and no lightsaber he is vulnerable for the first time and that allows the reader to root for the villain.
The pencils on this series continue to be second to none. I really enjoyed the work of Salvador Larocca on volume one but I must say that Giuseppe Camuncoli captures Vader’s physicality in a way Larocca never did. He is drawn smaller and slight of frame. His appearance is that of a young man who is not yet use to his physical limitations. In fact it is those very limitations that undo him in the climax of this comic and we see that building as more and more of his suit is lost as he battles his way toward his prey. Darth Vader Vol 1 was great and somehow Vol 2 is even better. I have always loved the story of Anakin/Vader and this chance to explore his early years as a Dark Lord of the Sith is a welcome one. Of all the Star Wars books on the shelf these days I can strongly state that this is the best so if you are missing out head on down to World’s Coolest Comics and pick up issue #3, there are even a few remaining copies of the first two issues on the shelf to get you instantly caught up.