– Spoiler Review –
After the third issue took some time off the plot to introduce the wonderful trio of Doctor Aphra, Triple Zero, and BT-1, Darth Vader #4 kicks back into high gear, moving the plot at a brisk pace with new characters who don’t disappoint and one of Vader’s bounty hunters comes through.
Ever since their introductions, I’ve been eagerly waiting to see Aphra, Triple Zero, and BT in action and they all live up to my expectations and are impressively funny. Aphra’s very glib nature, which she confesses too, makes her a great companion to Vader’s brooding silence. Their interactions peel back some of the top layers of Vader as a character, with his silence speaking volumes around her constant ramble. Her ‘death wishes,’ as they were, are another great aspect to this unique character we’ve never really seen in Star Wars before; She’s definitely not stupid and realizes a partnership with Vader only lasts as long as he wants it to, but to see her call him out on it and request a lightsaber slash to the neck, was surprisingly refreshing. She understands his purpose better than most Imperials do, as they often find themselves on the dying end of a Force choke and can’t believe he’d do such a thing. Either way, I’m already hoping Aphra survives this series, whether or not she betrays Vader, because she’s absolutely entertaining.
Ditto goes to the droid pair, especially as Triple Zero steals the show in #4 and I could read a whole comic/novel about his early days before his matrix was locked up. From his taunts at the burning droid/Geonosian hybrids to his excitement over finally torturing someone, this guy is absolutely diabolical and an effective dark mirror to C-3PO. The panel where all you can mostly see is his red glowing eyes as he’s about to torture the Emperor’s goon will haunt my nightmares forever.
Just as freaky were the Geonosian/droid hybrids being cooked up by one of the remaining Hive Queens (who may or may not be Karina from The Clone Wars episode “Legacy of Terror), as the Empire bombed Geonosis with some type of weapon which sterilized the Geonosians, leaving this as her only option to continue their species. I doubt we’ll ever learn how she actually knows how to build these hybrids, even when it feels like she wouldn’t/shouldn’t have ever learned how to, it’s far from the craziest thing Star Wars has asked its fans to go along with.
But this series is titled Darth Vader after all, and while we got some great interactions between Vader and Aphra, two other moments really stood out and are what make this series worthy of the Dark Lord’s name. The flashbacks in this series so far have been way more effective and telling about Vader’s state of mind than having him talk/have an inner monologue and the one within #4 is no exception, subtly tying into a moment later in the issue: Aphra asks if he’s been to the planet before and he remembers the kiss he shared with Padmé before heading out into the arena back in AotC. That memory is even more poignant when we see he’s using a modified version of Padmé’s Nubian Starship, to which he comments about it as, “She’s stronger than she looks.” Way to pack a wallop in only three combined panels of a comic! If you ever questioned how important Padmé was/still is to him, this should be a clear and well planned answer.
With the droid factory stolen from the Hive Queen and operating under Triple Zero and BT’s watchful eyes, you’d think this issue would come to close after all that had happened already. But Black Krrsantan, the Wookiee bounty hunter we met in #1, brings in the mysterious agent the Emperor was seen with in #1. While the Wookiee finds out this agent was shipping illegal alien body parts (oh boy…), it takes the special torturing talents of Triple Zero to get his name, Doctor Cylo-IV, and that he is scheduled to visit the Emperor’s replacements for Vader. Wait, what?!? Yup, it looks like Palpatine is bucking the Rule of Two and getting ready to abandon the supposed Chosen One…or is he? Could it be part of a test?
Either way, I feel like this is could be connected to TCW S2, Ep.3, “Children of Jedi,” where Palpatine tries to use surgery to create a legion of undercover Sith spies amongst the Jedi. He’s living in the Imperial Palace a.k.a the Jedi Temple now (as seen in DV #1 and Tarkin), so he’s had quite a long time to shuffle through all their holocrons, maybe locating new Force-sensitives and could be attempting more of the surgeries. Or I could be completely wrong, but it’s something to consider until #5 drops in May with Vader arriving at the base.
Here are a few other things:
- There are several lines which I would consider my favorite of #4. First: Vader, “Cease your probing.” Aprha, “I’m a rogue archeologist. You have to expect a little digging.” Second: Triple Zero’s decree of doubly good news when Vader won’t be disappointed the Emperor’s agent is already dead.
- Wonder what type of weapon the Empire used and why they sterilized the Geonosians.
- I wonder how the Droid Grota will feel about Aphra’s betrayal…and how Vader will deal with them if they interfere with his plans while going after her.
- UPDATE 1/08/2017: The Geonosian Queen Vader and Aphra leave for dead after taking her factory-womb? Turns out she was the egg the crew of the Ghost on Star Wars Rebels lets live in a Season 3 episode, “Ghosts of Geonosis.” What is a happy ending there is a truly dark one thanks to a comic released nearly two years before!
Vader’s new companions do not disappoint in Darth Vader #4, which deftly picks the plot back up, while still finding ways to show surprising and nuanced looks into the Dark Lord’s mindset, even with such strong, stand-out secondary characters.
+ Aphra, Triple Zero, and BT-1
+ Flashback connection with Nubian fighter reveal
+ balance of humor and brooding
– A lot in a little amount of time
STAR WARS CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Vader: #1 | #2 | #3 | #5 | #6 | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12) | The Shu-Torun War (#16-19) | End of Games (#20-25)
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
Skywalker Strikes (#1-6) | Old Ben’s Journals | Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (#8-12) | Rebel Jail (#16-19) | The Last Flight of the Harbinger (#21-25) | Annual: #1
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Poe Dameron (on-going)
Han Solo (mini-series)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)