Series: Star Wars
Written by: Jason Aaron
Art by: Mike Deodato Jr.
Summary for Comixology: “Bringing together the smash-hit Star Wars and Darth Vader series! Leia comes face to face with true evil!”
Warning: If you haven’t been keeping up with the Vader Down crossover event then this review will contain some spoilers – not for this issue, but for those that came before it.
We have seen some pretty awesome things thus far in the first two issues of the Vader Down crossover event. In the early issues, Darth Vader decimated an entire squadron of X-Wings, destroyed Y-Wings with nothing but the Force and a few boulders, and uttered some of the most epic lines Star Wars has seen. The last issue, Darth Vader 13, ended with a Wampa-sized cliffhanger as 000, the murderous Threepio doppelganger, and his equally-as-murderous astromech counterpart, attempt to capture Luke Skywalker. Meanwhile, Vader is laying waste to scores of Rebel troopers, but Leia is on her way with reinforcements, leaving Han to rescue Skywalker alone.
Obviously, there is a lot happening in this event right now. One thing I love about Aaron and Gillen is that they are great writers who can take a story that has the chance to become muddied by all of the things unfolding and orchestrate it in such a way to make it not only understandable, but enjoyable. When Aphra and her psychopathic droids are trying to capture Luke I was on the edge of my seat, and the last page of this issue, which features Vader, is a real jaw-dropper. We also finally get to see something that I know I have been waiting to see since Star Wars: A New Hope and it is glorious, but I don’t want to spoil it for you so I can’t talk about it.
Aaron is just a great writer. His is able to capture the tone of the Star Wars saga and make it feel true to form, and that’s saying something. There are a lot of Expanded Universe (also known as the literature-formerly-known-as-canon-sort-of) that just feel off – like they are trying to cram as many references in as they can – and it doesn’t make for good reading. Aaron, on the other hand, does a great job of matching the characters to their dialogue (Han talks like Han, Luke talks like Luke etc), but he goes beyond that and adds depth to the characters and pays homage to the films without getting campy about it. For instance, there’s this great running joke that centers on 000 disguised as Threepio that made me laugh several times throughout the book.
The artist, Mike Deodato Jr., is equally brilliant. The facial expressions he is able to create, especially with Han, are spot on, and his art is terrific. I never would’ve thought a protocol droid could be frightening, but there are some silhouettes of 000 with red, glowing eyes that are intimidating… which I guess makes sense, since he is fond of wanton murder.
So where does that leave us? How about halfway through a 6 issue leviathan of a series. I am not generally a big fan of crossover events. Vader Down makes it a little easier because I was already getting Star Wars and Darth Vader, so the only extra book I had to purchase was Vader Down #1, which kicked off the series. It’s also a little different because it doesn’t feel like it isn’t needed. Some events just feel so unnecessary, but Vader Down adds some really interesting narrative to the ever-growing canon. Plus it shows that Vader is a force to be reckoned with, even when stranded all alone on a desolate planet surrounded by nothing by Rebel soldiers, which is worth the price of admission all by itself. Oh, and R2-D2’s evil twin looks like this:
I double-dog dare you.