Comics on the Can – Darth Vader #12 “Vader Down Prelude” (2015)

Welcome to part three of my editorially unaware, multi-column tribute to the greatest space saga of our, or any, generation – STAR WARS!

First was – Cultural Junkdrawer – Who the %$#@ is Kylo Ren

Second was – Adult Continuity – Star Wars XXX

Now we got…

IMG_0339Comics on the Can – Darth Vader #12

Kieron Gillen – Writer

Salvador Larroca – Artist

Edgar Delgado – Colorist

Darth Vader is a bad-ass.

I know this isn’t any blinding revelation, but, it seems, that the Lucasfilm powers that be felt the need to utilize its vast, multi-platform resources to reiterate this fact.

Let’s be honest; we probably needed to be reminded. A whole generation has come up with milquetoast Vader; a whiney, sullen Anakin Skywalker for most of three movies ending in the unintentionally hysterical/slap in the face of Darth Vader going “Nooooooooooooooooo!” Which embodies, even more than Jar Jar, what was wrong with the prequels. I understand that Lucas was trying to frame him as a tragic figure but using nothing but a visual cue from “Frankenstein” to transmit that was a bad idea… On top of a slew of bad ideas.

Gone was the Sith lord who casually snaps a helpless rebel’s neck cause he was ticked off. The terrifying, ominous and powerful presence of Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader seems blunted with time and forced context. Even the thrilling moment of Vader’s redemption in Return of the Jedi was diminished by tinkering (with George cutting in that same “Nooooooooooooo!” as Vader grabs the Emperor. Giving Lucas one last middle finger to his fans and their expectations.)

We needed to be reminded that this cat is one of the most feared figures in the galaxy. Boba Fett answers to HIM! Luke had daddy issues over Darth Vader even before he knew he was his father! Imperial Admirals, Generals and human resources lived in fear of his reprisals! Vader was, nay… IS one of the most iconic villains in movie history!

It was high time we were reminded that Darth Vader was the leading figure of menace for my age group (apart from Tony Danza, of course) and why he got that status in the first place. Fortunately that’s been happening from the Disney/Lucasfilm corporate juggernaut…

Movies: Obviously Kylo Ren is fanboy #1 rocking the ultimate collector’s item…

I outbid “JARJARSUCKS” for it on Coruscant EBay! Only 600,002 credits!

I outbid “JARJARSUCKS” for it on Coruscant EBay! Only 600,002 credits!

The whole “finish what you started” line which seems to be, to Ren’s reckoning, more Death Star type galactic destruction and not a complete set of Pokémon – Kaiburr crystal cards.

Ummm, not helping my point here…

Ummm, not helping my point here…

Television: Star Wars: Rebels did a great 2nd season opener/teaser where Vader single handedly kicks the crap outta a whole rebel fleet and makes the crew of the Ghost understand that they are no longer sitting at the kiddy table.

Comics: Vader Down – a Darth Vader centric “event” story told across a few of the Marvel Star Wars titles which opens with Vader, once again, kicking the living crap outta a whole rebel fighter squadron while searching for the pilot who killed the Death Star.

Darth Vader #12, which I chose semi-randomly out of my comic shop’s back issue bin, leads into the events of Vader Down. The issue does an excellent job of not only reinforcing the “Vader is a bad-ass” mission statement but shows a side of Vader’s life that requires not the menace, force choking the shit outta people that annoy him, and outright fear generation that he’s best known for. Vader also has to cunningly navigate a viper’s pit of political back-stabbing and the daunting task of resource management while trying to complete his objectives. On paper that may sound dangerously close to “trade federation negotiations…” but in Gillen’s capable writing it is what it should be; a fascinating story of an apex predator among lesser but still dangerous predators circling the same prize while warily eyeing one another.

Vader is on the hunt for a rebel squadron known as “The Plasma Devils” which is a damn cool name. Like a hockey team from the sun. Although this isn’t, strictly speaking, his assignment. He has been tasked with chasing down a thief who stole imperial credits. Boring stuff for the Sith lord but the thief and Plasma Devils location dovetail nicely into each other.

He also is keen to find the “strong in the force” pilot the made that one in a million shot. Primarily because he would like to kill or turn the pilot but also because there are opposing forces in-house; a set of twins and a cyborg Mon Calamari who’s assignment include finding that pilot first. I haven’t been following this series but I’m running on the assumption that the pilot’s name (Skywalker, duh) isn’t known to any of team Empire, yet. Marvel had a similar plot thread way back when they had the original license in the 70’s before any of us (including Marvel) knew how significant that name would be to Vader. It’s a great card to play in context of everything that’s known now. Imagining Vader’s reaction when he gets wind of a Skywalker knocking around! It would be epic and could spin off a great story of Vader trying to hide that info from the Emperor. At the moment, though, it’s a Sith thing and a middle finger to the other imperials Vader is being set against.

The issue opens with Vader and a Capt. Thanoth about to flush out a data pirate named Aphra who stole a bunch of Imperial cheddah and also has the 20 on that rebel pilot. A two for one for Vader. But the attempt to capture the thief distracts Vader and co. from netting the Plasma Devils, which would give Vader a hat trick… or helmet trick in Vader’s case. Vader abandons the thief to prevent the Plasma Devil’s escape. He risks pissing off Supreme General Tagge (his current boss) in the process. But, he figures, it’s worth it.

Vader has Thanoth bomb the Devil’s base flushing them out and right into a well-timed light saber attack. Taking out a star fighter squadron in a single custom T.I.E. fighter is bad-ass but taking out a whole squadron by flinging your laser stick is another level entirely. Vader > Bad-ass.

Technically the job of wiping out the Plasma Devils fell to the twins under Tagge’s command so Vader robbed them of that victory, points to Vader.

The maneuvering plays out like a finely tuned episode of an HBO crime drama. Just the verbal dust up post Plasma Devils between the Imperial factions is loaded with barbs and feints. Everybody is trying to one-up each other while Vader just brushes off the whole pissing contest. Vader even flips the fact that the thief he was tasked to capture got away and shields Thanoth from punishment. It’s a side of Vader we never got in the movies. Sure we heard a lot about Anakin’s political acumen but, as with most everything in the prequels we’re never shown. Gillen and Larroca, in one illustrated scene, accomplishes what Lucas couldn’t do with a world of green screens and two movies.

And to top it all off Vader knew where the thief was going to end up! It seems Aphra wants to work for Vader as his go-to information source/analysist. This is a smart move on Aphra’s part because 1 – Vader will keep her busy and well paid and 2 – Vader won’t kill her. She gives the location of Luke as soon as Vader’s shadow falls on her. She’s damn scared, that much is obvious. Again, demonstrating through character, what a freaking bad-ass Lord Vader is.

Vader takes off to find Luke and straight into the Vader Down event while Karbin, the cyborg Calamari reveals that it is a trap he’s laid for the Sith lord. Karbin, apparently, hasn’t really paid attention to the Vader > Bad-ass equation. Bad news for him.

Random thoughts somewhat pertaining to the book but I couldn’t work in organically in the main review…

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Seriously?

Could you imagine being human resources with Darth Vader on your beat?

Mercifully the twins aren’t named Romulus and Remus or Castor and Pollux.

Other plot things similar to the first time Marvel had the Star Wars license: Tagge vs Vader. One story arc had the brother of General Tagge train with a lightsaber with the endgame of Killing Vader. Didn’t go so well for him. A great story pitting Vader against Leia for an X-Wing fighter loan on a banking planet. Vader won that one by stealing her collateral; the crown jewels of Alderann. Vader and a bounty hunter in a race to capture a rebel deserter that knew Luke’s name.

Obviously things flipped as far as pecking order by the time Vader force choked Tagge on the Death Star.

Vader slices apart a Y-wing by flinging his light saber, didn’t break a sweat. Bad-ass!

Of course by now you’ve all heard the theory that Jar Jar was a Sith lord? Even if true the prequels still suck!

Are Mon Calamari supposed to be squids or salmon? I’ve heard it both ways but having dined at almost as many Italian restaurants as Billy Joel I know what Calamari is. My vote Squid.

It’s implied that Aphra sought out employment from Vader; her theft of the credits and tracking down Luke as a kind of audition. I can’t imagine Vader is a good boss… I mean death would probably be the result of getting skim milk instead of full in his latte… maybe he offers dental.

NEXT: I also picked up a Star Wars Legacy comic maybe as a super special bonus I’ll do that before the end of the month.

Later: Got that Spawn waiting patiently.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
A Patch of Fog
‘A Patch of Fog’ Isn’t Inventive, Just an Effective Thriller

We’ve seen variations of the story within A Patch of Fog...

Good Place Review
Thursday Is Once a Again a Good Place for NBC – The Good Place Review

The Good Place returned “Must See TV” Magic to Thursdays at...

xXx: Return of Xander Cage
‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ is Really Big, Really Dumb, Really Fun

There’s no other movie star who has retained their improbable rise...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
9.7/10
The Walking Dead A New Frontier: The Ties That Bind Review

The greatest connected story in gaming – Telltale Games’ The Walking...

Yakuza 0 Review
7.3/10
An Epic Japanese Crime Story – Yakuza 0 Review [PS4]

The Yakuza series has been around since 2006 and have grown...

Atelier Shallie Plus now available for Playstation Vita

Koei Tecmo have just released the latest installment in the Atelier...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
9.5/10
Warhammer 40,000: Will of Iron #4

Warhammer 40,000: Will of Iron #4 Story By: Geoge Mann Art By: Tazio...

naruto
Viz Media Announces New Partners for Naruto

VIZ Media continues to expand consumer product licenses for its hit...

one-punch man
Viz Media, Funko, and ThreeZero Collaborate for One-Punch Man

VIZ Media continues to generate momentum for its smash hit anime...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
WrestleMania Crate
Loot Crate’s Slam Crate’s Road to WrestleMania Crate

Get ready for the biggest event in World Wrestling Entertainment with...

one-punch man
Viz Media, Funko, and ThreeZero Collaborate for One-Punch Man

VIZ Media continues to generate momentum for its smash hit anime...

Dok Talk CR25
The Dok Talk CR25 Voice Activated 5 Device Charger

Cut the mess, the stress, and impress with The Dok Talk...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Combate Americas Appoints Finance & Sports Industry Leader as Chairman

From Combate Americas – NEW YORK, January 11 — Combate Americas,...

Lucha Underground, ‘Evil Rising’ Airs Wednesday, January 4 on El Rey Network

Johnny Mundo and The Mack face off in their most intense...

Combate Americas Announces Four Fights for the Mexico City January 19

From Combate Americas – NEW YORK – January 3, 2017 –...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
New Year’s Resolution Begins with ‘Country Heat’ Days 5, 6 & 8

Days 5 & 6: No, I didn’t forget to do days...

Cultural Junkdrawer – Pop Culture Resolutions for 2017

Hey, 2017, new year, new you?!?! The starting days of any...

New Year’s Resolution Begins with ‘Country Heat’ Day 4

Day 4: It has gone from leg pain to ab pain...

Event News Event Reviews
Santa Makes Phone Calls in Time for Christmas

NORTH POLE, Alaska, Dec. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — With just days to...

The 2016 2nd Annual Great American Comic Convention

  This past weekend, Las Vegas, NV hosted the 2nd Annual...

Bluefin Concludes 2016 with a Special Year-End Warehouse Holiday Sale

Bluefin Concludes 2016 with a Special Year-End Warehouse Holiday Sale Come...

Gaming Uncensored Growing Up Geek The Popcorn Podcast Toon-In-Talk
Popcorn Podcast Presents: Nintendo Switch Commentary

On this special episode of the Popcorn Podcast Chad, Izola and...

Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con: Interview w/ Sonya Belousova

At last month’s Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con event, I had...

Mike Hill Bass Lives for ‘Love and War’

Love and War is a pop rock collaborative project that is...

Sheena Easton Headlines Concert for Survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury

PALM SPRINGS, Calif., Oct. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The Neuro Vitality Center...