So as you may be thinking “Why aren’t you reviewing issue #1 ” I’d retort with I never review 1st issues. Mostly because the 1st issue of any series is usually dipping it’s big toe into a pool type atmosphere, unless it’s shounen Manga then it’s all in…

 Darth Vader issue #2.

Writer: Keiron Gillen

Pencils: Salvador Larroca

Colorist: Edgar Delgado

If you didn’t notice from the cover Vader’s not the only main villain to survive the first Death Star. That’s General Tagge in the background with his arm’s crossed. Though considering he was significantly heavier in Episode IV he must have lost quite a big of weight in the month or two that has passed since he was seen in the Death Star Briefing room arguing with Admiral Motti.

Now on to the rest of the chapter. The first few pages were odd for my knowledge of Vader. He saves an Imperial shuttle that was attacked by a rebel vessel. Which to me growing up in the 1980’s I couldn’t see Vader ever doing that. But after seeing the Clone Wars and reading how well he looked after the lower ranks and common clone troopers and later conscripts and enlists who admired and liked Anakin/Vader I could see where he “could” do that now.

He comes in using his Tie Advanced 1X and stops a torpedo with what must be either remnants or replacements of Black Squadron from Death Star I as his wingmen. After taking care of the rebel ship Vader returns to now Grand General Tagge on the Super Star Destroyer Annihilator… for you wookieepedia lore junkies this is not the ISD Annihilator stationed near hutt space. However you lore and* toy junkies may remember the never finished continuation of the Star Wars saga planned by Kenner Toys had Atha Prime’s double Star Destroyer also named Annihilator.

Tagge and Vader have some very good dialogue regarding the rebels and future plans of thwarting them. Showing the the animosity between the two since Palpatine chastised Vader for his failure with the destruction of the Death Star. Tagge comments on future plans as he assigns Vader an adjunct, a Lt. Oon-Ai. Not sure if it’s call back to something from Star Wars’ long storied past but I didn’t care much for the character. Vader has a droid follow him to “prepare” for the raid. They refit the rebel ship which was droid controlled to return to its place of origin in the extreme edge of the outer-rim territory where the pirates/controllers bring it back to unload its ill gotten imperial booty. The Trio of a Sulstan a Twi-Lek and a Mon-Cal can’t wait to see it’s cargo.

They didn’t have to wait long as by page 11 Vader’s splash page makes its appearance along with stormies and even Oon-Ai in reserve storming the small pirate asteroid base. Vader offs one of the foul rebels and starts to make his way towards the control rooms where the remaining vagrants mention the name Aphra, more about her later. As the stormies and Vader get closer the rebels unleash destroyer droids straight out of episode I. The following panels on page 14 show Oon-Ai asking what could Vader do and to actually see him think of what to do against the droids was reminiscent to me of his old Jedi self. He realizes using the lightsabre on the droids will cause more damage then good and therefore takes other measures. He lets Oon-Ai know he’s never helpless he force repels a few of the destroyer droids missiles back at them taking them and the pair of rebels trying to help defend the base out.

As the last of the rebels succumb to having well… pretty much everything broken and burned from the missile blast he activates the self destruct. Vader cool and controlled, orders the stormies back to the ship and prepare to launch but orders Oon-Ai with him to the lieutenant’s protests. Vader proceeds to the control room of the base and quickly gets a dump from the main computer banks. He returns with Oon-Ai to the refitted rebel ship they came on and make it off the asteroid just in time to see the base blow. After safely getting distance from the doomed pirate hideout Vader meets with the astromech droid he summoned from early in the issue to help “prepare”.

Back aboard the Annihilator Vader enters General Tagge’s war room complimenting the general from behind on the well laid plan and mentioning the pirates were backed by the Crymorah Syndicate. However when Tagge turns to face him he see Vader with Oon-Ai slumped over being held up by the collar from Vader’s fist. Vader explains to Tagge that Oon-Ai was the security leak and it must be he who was prying over Tagge to gain access to know where and when to hit imperial transports. Vader makes a point to show up Tagge and that the General’s choice for his watchdog was not only bad he was traitorous and in front of other officers in Tagge’s war room.

Oh and the Astromech that helped Vader “prepare” for the raid? He was part of the reason Oon-Ai who for all intents and purposes could have been a loyal imperial got caught up between Vader and Tagge’s personal chess match and now will have treason to answer for.

The Artwork much like in issue one was excellent. Vader is captured very well in a much more realistic way then he has been portrayed in stylized types of art for which comics he had been in before. However Larroca’s pencils are more realistic so using Vader image from film reference is much more forgiving in this format.  Also some of the faces were done exceedingly well like the imperial shuttle pilot on the 1st page had a very good expression while others looked slightly blocky in some panels but I can forgive that since I’m sure the editors were more focused on making sure Vader was well rendered. The linework in some panels were really done well like Vader and Oon-Ai in the hangar overlooking the refitting of the rebel ship in the first panel of page 9.

The cut and paste of Vader from page 8 and the stormies from page 11 in the 2nd panel of page 13 was a nice touch I must say because it felt very natural, I’ve read enough manga to see when cut and pastes can be done well or done terribly and I hardly noticed it so I see it as the former not the latter.

Delgado’s colors are the real treat of this issues art in my humble opinion. Some of the panels are so subtle in it’s use of the pallet that you get a real feel for the scene ala the color change coming from the cockpit controls and bright fire landing on the imperial shuttle pilot’s face. Or more memorably the coloring of Tagge’s face when he turns around to see Oon-Ai in Vader’s grasp. The wrinkles and crevices of Tagge’s face didn’t seem to have been rendered by Larroca in the initial pencil work but the color manipulation of the areas of his face really make it stand on it’s own.

All in all I have to say with the political backstabbing and chess match atmosphere to Vader #1 & 2 I’m starting to elevate it above the regular STAR WARS monthly issue in terms of must reads. See you in 30!