I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 8 comics last week: Convergence #6, Secret Wars #2, Darth Vader #5, Convergence: Shadow of the Bat #2, Convergence: Superman: Man of Steel #2, Convergence: Justice League International #2, Chrononauts #3 and Star Trek #45.
The best comic I read last week was Darth Vader #5
I was skeptical about my own personal enjoyment of a Darth Vader centered title. It’s not that I don’t like Vader, I just find him kind of one-note, especially in this post-New Hope, pre-Empire Strikes Back era in which the book takes place. I also haven’t loved books by Kieron Gillan who writes this one.
But I do like Salvador LaRocca and his photo realistic art has always appealed to me. I like that he “casts” an actor in the leads of his comics… like he did with Josh Holloway in Iron Man a few years back. Frankly, I think he’d be terrific on the main Star Wars title. I have liked him since his early work. I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think he’s really good. His style is perfectly suited here.
The story is really well done, too. Vader has discovered, in the wake of the Death Star Debacle, that the Emperor isn’t any more forgiving of his failures than Vader himself is of those around him and, while the Emperor hasn’t outright killed the Lord of the Sith, he’s making Vader’s life very difficult. Vader’s death is around any corner and he has only his skills, a pseudo-apprentice (the very George Lucas-y named Doctor Aphra) and two murder-bots for company.
It’s all the company he needs.
Gillan is writing a compelling narrative in this first arc, not only invoking the original trilogy, but bringing in appropriate elements from the prequels to populate his story. There is tension that is driven by plot and that is something hard to accomplish with a story-line who’s conclusion is already written.
Darth Vader is a fun book, a great read and a worthy addition to the Star Wars mythos.