In the wake of the destruction of The Death Star, one thing has obsessed the Sith Lord Darth Vader above all others—the identity of the young pilot responsible, whom Vader sensed was strong in The Force. Denied the right to hunt the Rebel Alliance by The Emperor, Vader secretly pursued his own investigations into the mysterious Rebel and eventually learned his name: Skywalker.

Faced with the possibility that the son he thought died in childbirth might have survived and that his Sith Master may have hidden that fact from him, Lord Vader has redoubled his efforts to locate and capture this ‘Skywalker’. The trail led Vader to distant world of Vrogas Vas, where Skywalker had traveled in search of a lost Jedi temple, according to Vader’s chief underling, Dr. Aphra.

What Dr. Aphra did not know—and Vader quickly discovered—was that much of the Rebel Alliance fleet was also at Vrogas Vas.  Brought to the planet’s surface by a desperate kamikaze attack, the Sith Lord is down, but not out.  Now, as Luke Skywalker’s friends race to rescue him before Vader wins free of the army before him, Vader’s underlings move to recover him and assure him that the current state of affairs is not their fault.

There is an element of fan-service to the plot of Star Wars: Vader Down. Much of the story is built from a simple desire to see the characters from Jason Aaron’s monthly Star Wars title contend with their dark counterparts from Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader series. While most of these matches are little contest (Threepio has little chance against the torturer droid Triple Zero), there is something to be said for pitting Wookie bounty hunter Black Krrsantan against Chewbacca just for the pure fun of it.

There’s little sense of drama to all of this action—we know all the major characters will emerge unscathed, after all! Yet Kieron Gillen and Jason Aaron do such a fine job of capturing the spirit of the original trilogy of Star Wars films that even the most jaded of Warsies will forget that fact and become a child again as they read this volume. All of the characters are perfectly translated from the big screen, with Lord Vader himself holding the strongest portrayal, as the Sith Lord is portrayed as a force of nature to be survived rather than an opponent to be fought.

The art teams for both of the monthly comics Star Wars and Star Wars: Darth Vader were brought in to produce this crossover tale and they deliver their usual high-quality work. Both Mike Deodato and Salvador Larroca produce photorealistic artwork that perfectly captures the likeness of the established characters from the movie. Deodato’s art is more heavily inked but not to a degree that ruins the story-flow between chapters.

This volume is rated T for audiences 12 and up and I consider that to be a fair appraisal of the book’s content. This being Star Wars a story, there’s nothing inappropriate for any child capable of watching the films on their own—no sexual matters discussed nor violence more extreme than robots having their arms ripped off and a stray electrocution or two.

Star Wars: Vader Down
by Jason Aaron Kieron Gillen
Art by Mike Deodato, Salvador Gillen
ISBN: 9780785197898
Marvel Comics, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: T (12+)

  • Matt

    | He/Him Librarian

    Reviewer

    A librarian with over 10 years experience in public and academic settings, Matthew Morrison has been blogging about comic books for nearly as long as they’ve had a word for it.  Over the past two decades, he has written regular columns, commentary, parodies and reviews for such websites and blogs as Fanzing, 411 Mania, Screen Rant and Comics Nexus.  He has served as an Expert in Residence for a seminar on Graphic Novels and Comics for Youth and Adults at the University of North Texas and has given several lectures on the history of comics, manga and cosplay culture at libraries and comic conventions around the country. In addition to his work for No Flying No Tights, he is the Contributing Editor of Kabooooom.com and maintains a personal blog at MyGeekyGeekyWays.com.

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