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Besides the announcement that The Force Awakens has been officially rated PG-13, there was really nothing else of note in terms of news this week besides some more 30 second TV spots that NEED TO STOP!

Come on Disney, I know you’re trying to make that paper, but please leave something to the imagination.

This week we’ll take a deep dive into the first two issues of the comic book crossover event Vader Down.

I also happen to get my hands on the inaugural offering in the latest line of Funko’s exclusive subscription box, Star Wars Smuggler’s Bounty.

Let’s walk that Rancor and put the Ewoks to bed because it’s time to go to light speed and take another journey on the Road to Episode VII.

Star Wars: Vader Down #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Deodato
Colorist: Frank Martin
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $4.99

Vader Down takes us on a journey where we seek to find the answer to an intriguing question; What happens when Darth Vader is all alone against the entire might of the Rebel Alliance? 

There have been a lot of comics over the years that show an outgunned Dark Lord overcoming insurmountable odds with the swipe of his crimson blade.  Some of his victories in these situations have been extremely creative and worthy of the Vader’s ruthless reputation while other incarnations left a lot to be desired.

When putting Darth Vader in any canonical situation, you have to respect the mythos and pathos of the character while being very selective in when, and if, he loses a battle.

Losing every week and having him shake his fist, ala Dr. Claw, shouting “I’ll get you next time, Gadget! NEXT TIME!!!” would dilute his legendary aura.

In this current story arc, Vader hasn’t taken a loss, but is very close to being knocked on the ropes as he has not only lost favor with the Emperor over the Battle of Yavin, but he’s leading an Imperial inquisition of a heist that he’s responsible for.

This first installment opens with a Vader tracking down Luke Skywalker, who he has recently discovered is his son, on the planet Vrogas. Vader comes out of light speed and is immediately ambushed by an armada of Rebel ships.

My first thought when seeing this was, “how in the hell is Vader going to dodge all of that firepower?”

The answer lies in the artwork of Mike Deodato that litters the page with enough laser bolts to light up the darkness of space and showcasing why Anakin Skywalker is the best star pilot in the galaxy.

Vader is eventually sent crashing to the surface in a well-realized manner, both in visual and in story. Kieron Gillen has done a great job of exploring Vader’s psyche in the ongoing series and Jason Aaron carries that over in this brief, but important moment.

Marvel is on a hot streak right now when it comes to Star Wars. This opening salvo harvests what could be a magnificent crossover event. Mike Deodato’s beautiful illustrations, with the help of Frank Martin’s coloring, sets an intense tone while Jason Aaron concocts a pleasing story that is new-reader friendly and keeps the cohesion of the other titles.

Darth Vader #13
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

Just when it looks like there is no way for Darth Vader to escape a battalion of Rebel troops, you realize how silly you are for even thinking such a thing.

The second installment of the Vader Down highlights how important it is for the Rebel Alliance to take out the Dark Lord.

Kieron Gillen makes Vader’s presence felt, while giving other characters some screen time.

Dr. Aphra is pulling out all the stops to rescue Vader while Princess Leia is doing the same in order to kill him. Gillen does a great job at conveying their motivation which ties into the overall narrative of both the Star Wars and Darth Vader titles, while augmenting the stakes in this crossover event.

Salvador Larroca continues to draw an amazing Darth Vader and finds ways visually to make him look more powerful. There are many panels of action in this issue, but the ones we get are simply awesome and perfectly compliment the creativity Gillen brings to these moments.

Just imagine the visual of Vader using the laser cannons of his TIE Advanced as a minigun. Yeah, it’s pretty sweet. Body language and facial reactions also resonate on their own, practically the look of shock on Han Solo’s face when Leia tells him not to rescue Luke who is stranded on the other side of the planet.

What has made these first two issues stand out is how the creators have made fear the catalyst for everything that’s transpired. Even if he doesn’t realize it, Darth Vader has never been more vulnerable. Chaos surrounds him on both fronts, which is an interesting place to see the Sith Lord in. This is another solid book that exudes the quality that Marvel has produced with Star Wars.

* * *

Finally, I’m trying something new, a video review of Funko’s subscription box, Star Wars Smuggler’s Bounty.  

Enjoy and let me know if you want to see more of these in the comments!

We can now count the number of week’s until Episode VII‘s release on one hand…

Happy Thanksgiving and May The Force Be With You.

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