Darth Vader, vol. 3

Summary: The unstoppable march of the Dark Lord of the Sith continues! The natives of the planet Shu-Torin are revolting. And there’s no way the Empire will stand for that. Darth Vader is tasked with leading a military assault against Shu-Torin! Could it be that his rise to glory has begun? But who will follow Vader into war? Would you? Then again, it’s better to fight alongside Vader than against him. That’s a lesson that the Ore Barons are about to learn…

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Darth Vader, vol. 3, by Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca and Leinil Yu 7.5

Warning: though this is volume 3 and one might naturally assume that it follows up where volume 2 ended, at issue 12, the fact is that this volume contains issues 16-19 of the series. Issues 13-15 can be found in a completely different collection, ‘Vader Down‘.

Interestingly, this book opens with a special Annual issue, which recounts how Vader made his connections with the Queen of Shu-Torun. It also gives background information on the political situation there – which, sadly, diminishes the opening of ‘Darth Vader’ #16.

Essentially, it feels as though the Annual has been written after the fact: at the opening of #16, the Emperor spends time explaining to Vader aspects of the situation there that he would already be familiar with. It’s reverse-engineered to innocuously fill the “gaps”.

Yet it’s superfluous.

Then it finds Vader being sent to Shu-Torun to protect Trios, its current Queen, from the Ore Barons. As she’s indebted to him for being Queen, and wants to protect her people from the Empire and the Barons, she tries to play along with Vader as best as she can.

But Vader is a blunt instrument and frequently likes to use excessive force to make his points clear. And it’s not without brutality that he puts an end to the Barons’ threat on Shu-Torun – though he eschews the more disturbing recommendations of 000, his evil droid.

This book is far more action-orientated, which some people might appreciate, but which I feel brings nothing to the series. It’s exciting, yes, but Vader doesn’t move along his arc much – in fact, I don’t really see what this book has contributed to his story and quest.

He was sent to fight a battle. He did that. He won. The Emperor insists it’s crucial, but doesn’t explain why and how to Vader – or us, for that matter. So it’s a battle like any other, really, except that Vader is consistently being betrayed and getting himself out of traps.

Gillen pieces the whole thing remarkably well and Larroca does his usual admirable job bringing the words to life (Yu did the honours on the Annual). And yet, it leads me to wonder how significant this story is in the grand scheme of things; does it really fill a void?

Does it fit snugly between ‘Star Wars‘ and ‘The Empire Strikes Back‘?

The fourth and final set will seal the deal.

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