– Spoiler Review –
Vader Down #1, part one of the crossover event between the on-goings Star Wars and Darth Vader, shows off Vader’s prowess and is a solid set-up for what’s to come in the six part event, promising an epic story, exciting new visuals, dream character meetings, and testing fandom’s tolerance for all of it.
As the title of this one-shot issue/crossover event suggests, Vader is shot down (or more accurately, smashed into) and subsequently surrounded by rebels on the remote planet of Vrogas Vas, which just so happens to be home to a secret base of the Rebellion. Vader, alone besides for Dr. Aphra from a distance, must find a way to survive to appear in The Empire Strikes Back, which is essentially the gist of this entire issue as it simply shuffles all the pieces in place so that the following issues of Star Wars and Darth Vader can continue telling the story. There are a few hints of substance here and there, but this is mostly about setting the chess board and getting fans excited for what could come from this crossover event, which Vader Down #1 does expertly.
If there’s one thing the Darth Vader series has been doing well and Vader Down even puts a bigger spotlight on, is proving how much of a badass pilot and warrior Anakin Skywalker still is despite being holed up in mobile coffin. He single-handily slays at least two squadrons of Rebel fighters before Luke tries to take him out kamikaze-style in an attempt to save the rest of the squads and he manages to destroy Y-wing bombers with some rocks from the ground. And even when the Rebels surround him, his confidence in the dark side, destiny, and his own abilities cause him to stand defiantly to it all in a moment which should cause all the Rebels present to be very, very afraid (the Force knows I’d run away at that point). Vader is only beginning to truly become obsessed with finding and turning his son to the dark side, something the DV series’ second arc set up quite well, so there’s no way a few scrawny rebels will keep him from his goal; Goodbye, red shirts!
As for Luke, he’s already becoming more and more like a Jedi, as he’s willing to sacrifice himself to help save others when he rams into Vader’s ship. He and Artoo survive and Luke forces himself to put off visiting the planet’s Jedi temple to take care of the Vader situation for good, which is quite the brave thing to do seeing as he knows he’ll be unable to beat the Dark Lord. Considering Luke just lost the chance to pillage the depths of a Jedi collection put together by Grakkus the Hutt on Nar Shaddaa (as seen in the Star Wars series’ second arc), this choice shows his selflessness in full-bloom. With his friends on their way, will that be enough to save him from his Jedi-like attitude?
Han, Leia, Chewie, Threepio, and a good portion of the Rebel fleet are on their way to Vrogas Vas to take out one of the Emperor’s playthings, as Leia puts it. While there’s not much time spent with them other than expositional dialogue, I love how it’s said unspoken by Han that the real reason he even wants to go after Vader with Leia is to save his good friend Luke and protect Leia; Han doesn’t even seem to realize how much of a softy he is already.
But I’d be remiss not to mention Dr. Aphra, arguably one of the top new characters introduced to the canon so far, is the only one who knows about Vader being alone and trapped by the Rebellion. But she does have Triple-Zero and BT-1 along with her, who are more than excited to assist Vader so they can murder indiscriminately, but one has to wonder if Aphra will be forced reveal her partnership with Vader in an attempt to bring the Empire to Vrogas Vas to help him. Considering Vader’s adjutant Inspector Thanoth knows about her, it could bring her way of life to an end…and bring her life to an end as well. Which, as a big Aphra fan, I will not accept. Probably. Either way, she’s eager to please Vader and prove her worth, so don’t expect her to call in the calvary unless Vader says so.
Jason Aaron, from the SW series, has the writing duties on the issue, while Mike Deodato was brought in as the artist. This is the first of his work for any Star Wars comic and for the most part I really enjoyed his work. I wasn’t completely sold on all the single panels, which definitely give the events an movie-like quality, though they seemed to take away from some of the immediacy of the action. It’s a minor quibble though, as the work overall is stellar and despite being different from anything else we’ve had so far on either series, it all still looks Star Wars to me. And if there is any confusion of how much blood might be spilt by Vader by the crossover’s end, the double page shot of the all the dead Rebel pilots floating in space should clear things right up.
Here are a few other things:
- Vader decimated an entire squadron in a similar fashion, though in a less graphic manner, in Star Wars Rebels‘ season two premiere film, “The Siege of the Lothal.” Obi-Wan was certainly right about him being the best pilot in the galaxy…until he meets his son of course.
- While we only got a tease of Vader’s abilities in DV #12 when he took out a Y-wing with his lightsaber (and an entire Rebel cell by himself), we got to see those abilities in full swing here and I’m sure there’s plenty more in the rest of the crossover.
- It wasn’t until I started writing this review that I truly realized and appreciated how much has taken place in the comics so far.
- I don’t believe Karbin will survive the “Vader Down” event, considering he’s the one who orchestrated Vader’s arrival on Vrogas Vas.
Vader Down #1 is an appropriately big set-up for the first crossover event of the new comics. It might not have a lot of substance, but it makes up for it visual splendor, action, and the promise of exciting things to come.
+ Solid set-up for crossover event
+ Proving Vader’s prowess
– Not a lot of substance
STAR WARS CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
Part 2: Darth Vader #13 | Part 3: Star Wars #13 | Part 4: Darth Vader #14 | Part 5: Star Wars #14 | Part 6: Darth Vader #15
Vader (#1-6) | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12) | The Shu-Torun War (#16-19) | End of Games (#20-25)
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)