Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #5

Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #5 (of 5)

Writer: Tim Siedell
Artist: Gabriel Guzman
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Cover Artist: Felipe Massafera

Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #5 brings a climatic, emotional end to this series as the battle on Ostor comes to a close. Darth Vader and clone commander Hock Malsuum engage in hand to hand combat to wipe out the last resistance in the city. Yet it’s not the action that forms the story, but the struggle for survival, the conflict of emotions, and the dark deeds that are carried out.

First off, I love how Gabriel Guzman starts these issues out with dramatic full page panels. In this one, we see only a fist clenched in anger. The simplicity of the focus, not seeing any faces, no elaborate backgrounds–just a fist–it highlights the iconic nature of the imagery and backs up the meaning of the narration. It gives weight to those words. Throughout the issue, the imagery backs up the story, giving it weight, and in turn, giving it meaning. And with so much of the story done through narration, the imagery because a very important part of the storytelling. Thankfully, Gabriel Guzman and Michael Atiyeh do a great job of telling that part of the story.

One thing that’s very interesting about this issue is the personal battles that are going on. Initially, there’s the one-on-one battle between Hock and Kaddak. Amidst this giant battle, two clones engage in a brutal fist fight, each fighting for their own cause. Kaddak fights for freedom against the Empire. Hock fights first for revenge, and then for sheer survival. While these two clones fight to the death, a mob of resistance fighters cheers on and Darth Vader stands silently at the front of his clone army, each side waiting and watching to see which of the two clones will win. As charged as that fight is, the thing that really gets me is when Vader offers Hock a hand up. That moment of compassion before the slaughter is a haunting glimpse at the humanity behind the faceless black mask.

As that personal battle between clones comes to an end, another battle erupts, this one between the Empire and the resistance on Ostor. With Hock’s victory of Kaddak, Vader leads the slaughter of everyone in the city. The narration reveals how that slaughter will haunt Hock later in life. The art shows why. There is a panel that shows Vader standing before a child, lightsaber lit, and a life being held in the balance. The story doesn’t show the child’s fate, but that visual does everything that it needs to. It reminds readers of what Anakin did to the younglings. It shows Vader in his current incarnation as a Sith Lord. But it also hints at why Vader’s actions should trouble Hock so much even years after the battle.

There are other moments of emotionally charged imagery, of carnage, and of defiance. Through the imagery and the narration, this issue shows the horrors of battle and the horrific things people do, in this case, Vader. Yet through all of that, there’s a very subtle storyline about Vader. It’s not just how merciless and violent he can be. Here and there, we catch a glimpse or a possibility of something else in the suit. Something that is not just mindless, pent up violence. There’s still something human in the suit, and Hock manages to bring out the humanity in Vader.

As the last issue in this series, Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #5 manages to wrap up this story and accomplish something beyond just simple entertainment. Within these issues, there is a story about emotion and humanity. Hock starts off on a path of revenge. By the end, he purges himself of that revenge and has to live with the costs. The story explores the internal conflict of a man driven by revenge, it takes a look at the horrors of war, and it very carefully looks at Darth Vader for what he is. In a way, Vader is a reflection of Hock, a man driven by revenge and on a path of destruction to purge himself of that violent desire. But unlike Hock, Vader has a long way to go before he can let go of his anger.

Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows pulls off some masterful storytelling with the combination of Tim Siedell’s gripping narration, Gabriel Guzman’s iconic artwork, and Michael Atiyeh’s rich coloring. I give Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #5 a five out of five metal bikinis. It’s near perfect.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

 

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