Darth Vader #21
Darth Vader #21 (of 25)
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado
Darth Vader #21 sets up the endgame as Triple-Zero and Beetee track down Doctor Aphra, and Lord Vader pursues Cylo. It’s a two pronged hunt to tie up loose ends and eliminate traitors. There is some chaos and carnage in this issue, however, the tease at the end robs a lot of the issue of its impact. Just as things are getting good, the plug is pulled and readers are forced to wait until the next issue to see what fun may be in store.
The cover for this issue really caught my interest with the western vibe of the swinging double doors. Sadly the interior art doesn’t capture that scene. It’s kind of odd considering it’s the same artists at work. But there is a cantina, and the murder bots Triple-Zero and Beetee do track down Aphra. While the confrontation is very messy for everyone else involved, Aphra comes out relatively unscathed. It’s actually a little bit anti-climatic. Even more disappointing is the presence of Black Krrsantan who only gets one word bubble and three panels. This showdown between Aphra and her former droids had some good potential, but I’m not sure Kieron Gillen or the artists did the best job in bringing that story onto the page.
The other half of the comic focuses on Vader’s hunt for Cylo. Doing a little sleuthing of his own, he manages to find Cylo’s location and brings with him the might of the Empire. Interestingly enough, the Empire is outmatched by a pod of cybernetic space whales. Nevertheless, Vader comes out on top by infiltrating one of the space whale ships before it leaps off into hyperspace. This brings Vader into confrontation with Voidgazer, the weird scientist serving Cylo. She has a big surprise for Vader, and it ends the issue on a high note. However, I can’t help but feel this issue would have been better if the big fight that is teased would have actually take place in this issue instead of the next one. Gillen is balancing two storythreads as this series comes to an end with just four more issues to go. In essence, issue #21 gives us a massacred village and a space whale fight. The underwhelming capture of Aphra steals a lot of thunder from the story, and with the Vader arc stopping right as it was about to get good leaves the whole issue feeling a little empty. While it’s not particularly bad, it’s very much a bridge issue to get readers to the next chapter of the story.
With the artwork, there is a lot of the usual visuals to be expected with Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado. They’re a good team with nice coloring and detail. But there were a few panels in this issue that really stood out. In particular, it was the elements in the panels that caught my eye. The first visual that stole my attention was the old Twi’lek on the Cosmatanic Steppes. Most Twi’leks in Star Wars are young males, Bib Fortuna, or sexy females. In this case they broke the mold and portrayed an old Twi’lek which was really neat to see. The second visual that got me was the floor of Cylo’s flagship. Beneath Cylo’s command deck is a clear floor showing the massive brain of the space whale he’s riding. At first I thought it was a decorative rug, then I noticed it was a brain which had my mind reeling, “why is there a brain under the floor?” Then a few panels later I remember the space whales and it all made sense. It’s a wild image and one not necessarily in keeping with Star Wars but very cool nonetheless. The best shot in the whole issue is without a doubt the last page. Hopefully will get some more of that in the next issue.
There’s some good things in Darth Vader #21, but there are a lot of missed opportunities that make this one fall short of the mark. It certainly sets the stage for an epic battle in the next issue, and it also sets in motion an eventual confrontation between Aphra and Vader. But those long plays don’t do much to fill the gap in between, and it leaves this one feeling like a filler episode in the arc. Thus I give this one a three and a half out of five metal bikinis. It’s okay and it promises good stuff to come, but there could have been a lot more in this issue to make it memorable.
Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.