COMIC REVIEW: Darth Vader #15 – Vader Down Finale | FanboysInc

COMIC REVIEW: Darth Vader #15 – Vader Down Finale

By Jeff Ayers

COMIC REVIEW: Darth Vader #15 - Vader Down Finale

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Salvador Larroca

Colors: Edgar Delgado


Marvel Comics

Everything that has been laid down in the last five issues of the title-spanning “Vader Down” story arc comes to a head in this final issue, Darth Vader #15. The writing double punch of Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen throw all their tricks on the table, and craft a compelling and satisfying end to their story.

COMIC REVIEW: Darth Vader #15 - Vader Down Finale

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Commander Karbin truly believes he has the upper hand, or hands, in his perilous situation with Darth Vader. This confrontation almost plays as comical to the seasoned fan of the Star Wars universe, for a few reasons. First, Karbin believes his “four arms with lightsabers are better than one” argument will win the day, and as fans of the movies can attest, this is definitely not the case. (Looking at you, General Grevious). Also, he grossly underestimates the Sith Lord, and you can tell that Aaron and Gillen have a lot of fun writing those scenes. This is especially present in the scenes where Vader is talking with Doctor Aphra, all while still locked in battle with Karbin. Aphra wants desperately to get back in good graces with Vader, and is offering her help to him while he is “delayed by this fool”. This turns out to be a fun scene to read as it plays out in the panels, and is paced like a blockbuster action movie.

All while this opening sequence is happening, Princess Leia has Vader in her blaster sights, and all she has to do is pull the trigger. She is haunted by the images of her home planet Alderaan being blown to bits by the original Death Star, and she would love to enact her revenge here. Yet, C-3PO’s pleas for help are ringing in her ear, and she wisely makes the choice to help her friends, who happen to still be alive for the moment, rather than avenge the souls she lost. It is a subtle move on the writers part, but it carries a lot of weight in the expanded universe.

COMIC REVIEW: Darth Vader #15 - Vader Down Finale

There is a lot of sacrifice in Star Wars in general, and that theme also plays out a few times in the panels of Darth Vader #15. As things look increasingly grim for Han Solo and Chewbacca, thanks to the overpowering bounty hunter Black Krrsantan, C-3Po saves the day – this time even with no arms – by electrocuting Krrsantan and himself in a Hail Mary play. Also, Doctor Aphra crashes her ship directly into Karbin, destroying her ride and Karbin’s chances for a longer life. Vader sacrifices his pride by taking down the transport ship containing the captured Luke Skywalker. Even Aphra’s murder droids are instructed to “save” Skywalker from his captors, rather than kill him, in the hopes that Aphra can collect him and the rest of the band of rebels. All of this action is played out beautifully in panels detailed by Larroca and Delgado, and the pace never falters. The depictions of the lightsaber powers, as well as the power of The Force, never feel trite and work incredibly well to accent the already entertaining story.

The “Best There Is”: Aaron and Gillen finally get to let loose all the story points they have been building towards, and they all pay off in a big way. Even though the peril for the main characters is lessened by the knowledge of their involvement in the next few movies, the way in which they get out of their respective problems is entertaining. Also, the reveal at the end that Doctor Aphra is now in the hands of Luke, Leia and the rest, and not at Vader’s side, will open up a lot of possibilities moving forward in both the Darth Vader and Star Wars series. Also, the conversation at the end, where Luke talks of how he was close to learning something at the ancient Jedi Temple, is interesting on two fronts. Could he have been close to learning his true patronage and the reveal of who Darth Vader really is? Or was it something more, some knowledge tied to the origins of The Force itself, that we will most likely be learning in Episode 8 following the events of The Force Awakens? Either way, the writing team did an exemplary job setting up a sly little cliffhanger in that subtle conversation.

The “Isn’t Very Nice”: As good as the writing was, one minor plot point really disturbed me in reading this book: Within the course of these series, we have seen the Millennium Falcon get thoroughly damaged on a few occasions, this story arc being no different. In a throw away line, when Han Solo and company return to the ship, he remarks that it has been fixed, to which it is revealed that Doctor Aphra did it, and is lying in wait for the gang to return. How, in the pace and timeline of events, did she have enough time to not only make it to the Falcon, but fix it and be waiting for them, in what seemed like only a few minutes. A minor gripe, but it seemed like a quick fix to a problem that could have been fleshed out a little more within the story.

FBI Score: 9.5 out of 10. A strong finale to the “Vader Down” arc, Darth Vader #15 not only wraps things up nicely, but sews the seeds for some compelling stories moving forward within this series, as well as the main Star Wars series. Also, could there be a subtle tie to the events of The Force Awakens and beyond?


Jeff Ayers

Both my parents instilled in me at an early age the awesome power and incredible wonder of the written word. My father sat with me when I was four years old and taught me to enjoy reading with classic comic strips like SPIDERMAN, PEANUTS, B.C. and, later, CALVIN AND HOBBES. My mother exposed me to such classics of literature as Poe, Tolkien, Stoker and Doyle, and I started my own comic collection with allowance money from mowing lawns. I liked Wolverine before it was cool, I watched as Superman died and returned, and huddled under the covers as I turned the pages of SANDMAN. Reading is like oxygen to me, and all genres and formats are welcome and devoured equally. I am the co-host of The DW and Incredible Jeff Show, CEO of Permian Productions, and a reviewer at Graphic Novel Reporter. I am 34 and live in scenic Saratoga Springs New York, where I haunt coffee shops and dive bars and the best comic shop anywhere, The Comic Depot.

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