COMIC REVIEW: Darth Vader Annual 1 – Who We Serve | FanboysInc

COMIC REVIEW: Darth Vader Annual 1 – Who We Serve

By Jeff Ayers

COMIC REVIEW: Darth Vader Annual 1 - Who We Serve

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Pencils: Leinil Yu

Inks: Gerry Alanguilan

Colors: Jason Keith

$4.99

Marvel Comics

Rather than deviating from the normal cast of characters, writer Kieron Gillen decided to pen a story worthy of a true fan in Darth Vader Annual #1. Starting from the stark image of Darth Vader on the cover, drawn by the incomparable Leinil Yu, the reader gets the sense that this is Vader’s story boiled down to its core elements. Thankfully, even though the story is minimal in this way, there are some interesting reveals and the entire reading experience engaging from start to finish.

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We see the King of Shu-torun – a planet that mines ore that the Empire so desperately needs – talking with his offspring in the first pages of this issue. The reader immediately gets the sense that something larger is at play with the way he treats his kids, especially the third in line, Trios. This is all more apparent once Vader shows up, wanting to get to the bottom of why they haven’t given him all the ore he requires. A truly wonderful panel is when Trios asks why he needs so much ore so fast, and Vader simply replies, “The Empire is building. It is always building.” Really, an amazing sequence laid out beautifully by Gillen, and taken to new heights thanks to the artistic team of Yu, Alanguilan and Keith. Vader’s profile encroaching into the upper panels as he says that last line is terrifying and beautiful, and a true testament to the talent of the people involved. Also, this is a subtle hint to the Empire beginning to work on the second Death Star, which is a fun nod to the fans.

COMIC REVIEW: Darth Vader Annual 1 - Who We Serve

The strength of this book isn’t just Vader’s attempts to supplant the reigning monarch of this world for his and the Empire’s, own gain – it actually is the depiction of Vader himself. When he is faced with the formalities of the planet, even being asked to dance, we see Anakin Skywalker shine through once again, the headstrong boy that only wants to complete the task at hand, and has no time for formalities or finesse. Gillen shines at writing this character, and truly brings the best of Vader, both the Sith Lord and the scared boy, to the forefront. Even the addition of Doctor Aphra’s murder droids, Triple Zero and Bee-Tee, are mere sprinkles on this story, not affecting much in the way of true importance towards the end result. Sure, they lend their evil ways to help fuel Vader’s plans for domination, but their part in the story is minimal, and actually has the reader wondering where Doctor Aphra might be during this whole time.

COMIC REVIEW: Darth Vader Annual 1 - Who We Serve

The “Best There Is”: Darth Vader is at his absolute best in this issue, without all the story threads from the main series weighing him down. He is just trying to complete a task, namely infiltrating and killing a monarch to put in place the ruler he wants – one that will serve him and the Empire. A very well written story, it is only made increasingly more engaging by the talents of Leinil Yu. The pencil work and the character models are done in his usual innate attention to detail, and you can get real emotion from their faces, even Vader’s stoic mask has feeling and purpose. Also, the color work of Jason Keith is bathed in reds and blues, accenting all the scenes with Vader beautifully. Darth Vader Annual made this series seem fun again, as it has been getting a little off the rails in the main story, and also becoming something else entirely with the new “Vader Down” arc that is happening now. Also, the final reveal of the “present” he bestows on the new monarch, a piece of Alderaan, is chilling and poignant, and works perfectly in the context of this story.

The “Isn’t Very Nice”: Honestly, I want to see more of this type of story crop up in Darth Vader’s solo series. He has been hunting Luke Skywalker, and for good purpose, but he is also still a tool of the Empire, and that makes for compelling storytelling. Also, it felt like a big misstep to not even mention Doctor Aphra in this book, while having her murder droids still present and seemingly under Vader’s control. They barely are contained by Aphra herself, and it seemed less believable they would comply to Vader’s commands, and not just try and kill everyone in their way.

FBI Score: 9 out of 10. A really fun, terrifying, and engaging story about Darth Vader and the lengths he will go to flex the strength of the Empire. Darth Vader Annual #1 works as not only a great stand alone-story, but a great jumping on point to see what Marvel has in store for Vader and their Star Wars universe.

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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