Monday, May 18, 2015

Comic Review: Darth Vader #5

I can't make a list of everything Star Wars fans hate about the prequels, but the way they portray Anakin Skywalker is by far one of the biggest complaints. Fans wanted the great character from the original trilogy, at the peak of his villainy - and here he is in this series, the most feared man in the galaxy, with the possible exception of the Emperor.

Speaking about the Emperor, one of the big things this series does is address Palpatine looking for Vader's replacement. This is an obvious place to go, as Palpatine really wanted Luke to replace Vader as his apprentice, and that could not have been the only time he was looking for that replacement. Given the constraints of these series, however, that becomes a very difficult balancing act, as the characters and world here much match up with the beginning of Empire Strikes Back, but how they make that interesting is the real genius of this series.

Palpatine is not looking for Force users as Vader's replacement. Instead, he is looking for apprentices with other abilities and skills, which both goes off in an unexpected direction and sets up a large conflict between Vader and Palpatine. Vader calls the use of these abilities blasphemous, a more pointed reference to the religious aspects of The Force, while Palpatine is much more the pragmatist.

Even with that unexpected development, Darth Vader needs to fit into a specific box throughout this series, so the development and ability to cut loose with characters falls to side characters. While one obvious one would be Aphra, the doctor Vader conscripts into helping him, the other obvious one that is stealing the show is 000, probably better known as Evil C3PO. He is not a deep or well rounded character, but he does not need to be; he is just a remorseless, psychopathic droid that looks and sounds exactly like C3PO, and any more depth would probably just take away from his character.

The one problem I've had, both with this issue and the earlier ones, is that Vader does not look good when moving around too much. It's likely due to the design working best with the limitations of late 1970s visual effects, but any scene in which he has too much movement just does not look right. Darth Vader does not look good running or jumping. If you are close, he cuts you down; if you are further away, he force chokes you, or he simply orders someone else to do it. Maybe I'm being unreasonable about it, but this is my sticking point with this series and the way it's drawn; all things considered, that being my biggest complaint is more praise than anything else for how much they are doing right. 

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