Darth Vader #9

Darth Vader #9 (Book II, Part III: Shadows and Secrets)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado

Darth Vader #9 delves deep into the detective hunt as Imperial Inspector Thanoth investigates the theft of Imperial credits. There’s some action as the investigation gets under way, and Vader does a lot of standing around. Yet it’s an excellent use of his presence. Vader is there, lurking, waiting, patiently watching and observing the inspector. It’s all building up to the moment where we’re expecting that crimson blade to slice through Thanoth’s neck. Yet who knows, maybe the wily inspector will make it out of this alive.

The issue opens with a nice scene between Vader and some rebels. It’s quick, but suspenseful and leaves the reader wondering what’s going to happen. Throughout the issue, there’s some great pacing as the story unfurls. Vader and Thanoth follow the footsteps of the thieves. Their search leads them to Anthan Prime and a battle between the Empire and criminal elements. It also brings the twins back into the plot as they murder their way through some trouble and show just how clumsy, short sight sighted and ill equipped they are to supplant Vader. As Thanoth points out in the issue, Vader is very restrained. He follows Thanoth’s lead, and helps out where he can. Yet all the while the whole investigation is into a crime he committed. As the pieces fall into place, Thanoth gets closer to unraveling the mystery, but the question is how will Vader handle this problem? Can he really afford to dispose of another nuisance?

While that side of the story is actually becoming quite fun, there’s an even juicier tidbit that falls into place at the end of the issue. Aphra and the psycho droids pay a visit to an information broker and procure some rather odd intel. Aphra pays a large sum of credits to find out about a mortician named Commodex Tahn. The one little word that makes the whole thing exciting is Naboo. Why would Vader be interested in an ex-military clerk who returned to Naboo to take over the family business after the death of his father? A mortician who has been retired for nearly 20 years? The simple answer is that he’s investigating the death of Padme. But why? What information is Vader after? Where will this investigation lead? The possibilities are so tantalizing that this issue ends with one of the best story points I’ve read so far in the series. I’m seriously stoked to see where they go with this. Hopefully, it won’t be a let down.

The art is once again top notch as Larroca and Delgado deliver some great looking panels. Right out of the gate they do some awesome things with the rebels hunting Vader. We seek the Dark Lord hiding in the shadows as he patiently waits for his victims to arrive. Yet the striking thing is how we don’t see him in action. In fact we don’t even see his face. Instead he stands there with his back to them and the only hint of what’s to come is a tiny inset panel of him igniting his lightsaber. The implied threat and carnage speaks for itself. It’s well done. I also enjoyed the character work with Inspector Thanoth who gets a lot of close-ups and face shots. His personality comes through in each panel, which adds a lot to the dialog. You can get a sense for the creeping thoughts and suspicions floating around behind those eyes. And then there’s Vader again, lurking over Thanoth’s shoulder, quiet and imposing. The implied threat haunts each panel. It’s like watching a clock ticking as Thanoth’s time runs out. Further underlining the whole Vader threat is when he grabs Doowan by the throat and they interrogate him about the location of another criminal. This would probably be the first time Thanoth gets to see Vader inflicting violence upon someone. There’s no flashing lightsaber fighting, no theatrics, just a quick burst of indomitable strength. Yet Vader doesn’t kill Doowan. Once again, there’s that restraint. But it also shows Vader’s cunning and intelligence, traits just as dangerous as raw Force talents. While Thanoth may only be suspicious of Vader, one can only surmise just how scared he might be of actually having to confront the Dark Lord of the Sith if he finds him guilty? Regardless, the artwork does a great job of bringing those scenes to life and planting the seeds of doubt, suspicion, and intrigue.

Overall, Darth Vader #9 is once again at the top of its game. I give this issue a five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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