Welcome back, Star Wars comic fans! No matter whether Disney+ has new Mandalorian episodes every week (which they do right now! YES!), we get at least 22 full color pages of brand new Star Wars stories every week in our local comic shop!
This week, I’m taking a look at Darth Vader #7 by Greg Pak, illustrated by Raffaele Ienco. Darth Vader #7 released today, Wednesday November 11, 2020, with a regular cover by Daniel Acuna and a Sprouse ESB 40th Anniversary cover.
You can pick them up at your local comic shop or over at TFAW.com!
The Emperor left Vader deconstructed and burning on the shores of the lava lakes of Mustafar at the end of last issue. Vader had defied the Emperor, running off on a private mission of vengeance against those that hid his son from him. Perhaps a higher sin, though, was leaving Padme’s handmaidens alive at the end of that journey. The Emperor has warned Vader not to use the force to save himself. The Emperor will know if he does and has promised to summarily come and end Vader’s misery if he resorts to such means.
The Emperor has also unleashed a brand new character, an Assassin of the Sith, Ochi of Bestoon. Ochi first appeared on the last page of issue 6 for those who want to speculate on this character’s future popularity. I could be wrong, but I think Ochi is far too cocky for Vader to permit to breathe for long. The Emperor’s motivations other than cruelty are not quite clear at this point. Is the Emperor tempering Vader’s loyalty through violent trials? Is he simply restarting the process of fear, anger, hatred, and suffering that the Sith must follow? No clear answers are offered yet in this issue, but we still get an awesome showdown between Vader, the elements, his lack of force abilities, and Ochi.
At the outset, you can’t help but wonder what Vader is going to do. He’s legless, armless, and unable to rely on the force to levitate himself or anything else for that matter. The ingenuity of this issue is that we are reminded of Vader’s other character attributes, though. Even before Anakin was identified as powerful in the Force, he was adept at machinery, robotics, and anything requiring mechanical knowledge. He was also a slave, digging around in a junkyard, scrapping for parts to build a workable wonder of podracing prowess. Another thing Vader has going for him is the fact that he’s been here before. Not just legless on Mustafar, but specifically near this building, where he massacred the trade federation lackeys. He remembers the resources available to him and he gets to work. I applaud Pak for turning to this character device rather than simply falling back on the Force Deus Ex Machina.
Stitched together, Vader has a fighting chance and fight he does! Ochi, for his part, is a little lippy for my liking. This makes me think that the character is not long for this world. He’s a threat to our anti-hero who we know survives this post-ESB storyline. I’m not saying only one man can walk out of this bout alive, but the odds are stacked against Ochi. Some major plot importance and some redeemable character qualities (even if villainous character qualities) will need to arise for Ochi to stand the test of time as a Star Wars canonical character.
Ienco skillfully carries the reader through all the action of this issue. There were a few moments where I had a hard time plotting the steps in the fight choreography. How did Vader end up in front of Ochi in that cave before the entrance collapsed? Ultimately not too important, but a little annoying. What I really loved to see, though, was Ienco’s super detailed line work. If you inspect the different surfaces of armor and clothing on Ochi and Vader, you’ll see that Ienco paid particular attention to illustrating varying textures for old, weathered metal, opposed to newer polished armor pieces. This is just one example, but there are more. Such as the difference in skin texture between a breathing Nemoidian and a rotting Nemoidian corpse.
In the end, we get a weird and wild last page reveal. In an outlandish galaxy such as Star Wars, it is sometimes disappointing that creators don’t feel brave enough to write similarly outlandish creatures into that world. So much of the Star Wars sequel trilogy was simple human on human melodrama when there were so much more interesting alien angles that could have been approached. Pak, is not squeamish of outlandish creatures though.
In the end, Vader encounters some web-toed, six-legged, hammerhead-looking, force sensitive lava dweller, perched on top of a pig-nosed, lava immune giant. IF that isn’t outlandish, I don’t know what is. This type of stuff reminds me of the early days of Marvel Star Wars in the late 70s. Back when there was only one or two Star Wars movies and everybody from Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin to Alan Moore wrote absolutely improbably outlandish creatures and worlds into a brave new, unwritten galaxy. It was weird, wild, and slightly uneven, but great times nonetheless. This lava spider-man could be a massive hit or a massive miss, but either way, I commend the bravery to write such an insane character into the canon!
Until next time, Star Warriors!
You can pick up Darth Vader #7 today!
SEP200700 (W) Greg Pak (A) Raffaele Ienco (CA) Daniel AcunaPAIN LEADS TO ANGER AND ANGER LEADS TO AN ELEMENT FROM EPISODE IV!
o As DARTH VADER battered and broken by the EMPEROR as punishment for his rebellion, drags himself across the blasted surface of MUSTAFAR with vengeance on his mind!
o But can he survive the onslaught of a certain mysterious SITH ASSASSIN?
o And how will his world change when he learns his enemy’s GREATEST SECRET?!!
Rated T In Shops: Nov 11, 2020