It’s the final day for me to catch up on last week’s tremendous pile of new Star Wars comic issues before another (slightly less enormous) batch drops tomorrow, so let’s start with Star Wars: Darth Vader, Volume III, #33 by Greg Pak.
In this issue, the various characters we’ve been following in Darth Vader continue to feel the reverberating effects of the Fermata Cage having been opened in the Star Wars: Hidden Empire miniseries.
First, sub-administrator Sly Moore comes down with a case of bloody nose outside the Emperor’s Palace, while inside Palpatine himself revels in the pulse of energy that flows through him, electrocuting his Imperial Guards as Sheev cackles in hideous delight. Then on the Super Star Destroyer Executor, Darth Vader finds himself unable to control his Force powers, shattering a corridor and breaching the ship’s hull. Former Naboo handmaiden Sabé makes the executive decision to seal Vader into the chamber, exposing the Dark Lord to the vacuum of space– which of course he is easily capable of surviving in his life support suit. Then Sabé swings by to pick him up in a Lambda-class shuttle, only to have Vader tear that ship apart in turn as they come crashing down onto the surface of a planet. Here, Sabé utilizes a pair of glider wings (did we know she had those?) to save Vader from plummeting to his death, plopping him down on an uninhabited island where he’s free to wreak whatever chaos his now-unbridled powers can manage. The only potential collateral damage is Sabé herself, who indeed seems to be willing to sacrifice herself to protect the rest of the galaxy from Vader’s wrath.
Then the final few pages of Darth Vader #33 have both the title character and Sabé posed with the same question, borrowed from speeches given during the Star Wars prequel trilogy: does hatred truly lead to suffering as Yoda once suggested, or does it lead to power as Palpatine promised young Anakin Skywalker? I really liked this issue as a whole, and I enjoyed how the events of Hidden Empire are bleeding over into Marvel’s ongoing Star Wars titles, but how many times is Sabé going to be forced to choose between the paths of good and evil? Repetition aside, there’s plenty to like about this installment, and Pak keeps things moving at a brisk enough pace that it’s never less than entertaining. His efforts are assisted by new artist Adam Gorham (from Valiant’s Dead Drop) and colorist Federico Blee, whose artwork is both evocative and energetic, capturing the balance of dark and light that remains the focus of this comic as Vader’s character continues to evolve in the period between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The cliffhanger here offers another choice to Sabé, but I feel like we’ve seen her make that choice enough times that there’s no real weight to it in the end. I am curious, however, where the character will end up in the long run, and I hope we learn that fate sooner rather than later.
Star Wars: Darth Vader #33 is available now wherever comic books are sold.