Star Wars writers working for Lucasfilm Publishing outside of the live-action or animated content in theaters and on television have the unique and tricky task of filling in some long-neglected gaps in the saga’s larger continuity. They also must frequently weave together a variety of threads from throughout the long and often convoluted Star Wars timeline, connecting characters and situations in a way that makes sense while simultaneously furthering the overall story. It doesn’t sound like an easy job, which is why I’m so impressed when it’s done well.
Marvel Comics’ recently relaunched Star Wars: Darth Vader series continues this week with issue #2, wherein Lord Vader progresses on his quest to discover the truth of what became of his wife Padmé Amidala after he fell to the dark side of the Force and stopped being Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker.
Vader has come to the planet Vendaxa, following a clue he discovered in Padmé’s abandoned apartment on Naboo in the previous issue. He finds himself face-to-face with someone who uncannily reminds him of his long-thought-to-be-deceased wife, but can it really be her? Probably not, but I won’t spoil who it really is. The truth is actually pretty interesting and opens up a whole new avenue to explore as the Dark Lord of the Sith continues on his journey. Suffice it to say that it hadn’t occurred to me after last month’s cliffhanger ending, though it probably should have.
One of my ongoing gripes with the current Star Wars canon is that once-key characters in certain stories will disappear for decades without mention or even minor appearances to check in on what they’re up to. This issue does a great deal to correct at least one of those question marks of people left dangling after the prequel trilogy. It also gives us a lot more of the new droid ZED-6-7, who serves pretty much entirely in the dual function of an information dump and comic relief– the latter of which is admittedly fairly important when the title character of your book has such a stern, authoritarian presence.
Our antihero goes up against some of the local Vendaxan fauna, but not before showing his newfound frenemy who’s boss. After a contentious discussion, they end up joining forces against the land squid and then forming an uneasy alliance with the shared goal of uncovering what really happened in the aftermath of Order 66 and the birth of Anakin and Padmé’s twins Luke and Leia.
Writer Greg Pak (Star Wars: Age of Rebellion, Planet Hulk) and artist Raffaele Ienco (Batman: Sins of the Father, Epic Kill) make a fantastic team and I like that this series leans more toward minimalism and simplicity than the very busy, sometimes confusing artwork of today’s Star Wars: Bounty Hunters release. Flashbacks to the climactic arena battle from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and other prequel-era events are depicted in stark red and black, while “current day” events are in full but muted color, giving the comic an elegant, somber feel. There’s a real weight to the proceedings here, and it continues to add shades of grey to previously black-and-white characters and situations. I genuinely can’t wait to see where this goes next month.
Star Wars: Darth Vader #2 is available now wherever comic books are sold.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.