DARTH VADER #20 / Writer: Charles Soule / Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli / Colors: Dono Sanchez-Almara & Erick Arciniega /Letters: Travis Lanham / Marvel / August 22, 2018
“A guy like that… he’ll always find someone to kill.”
This quote from Darth Vader #19 is laden with foreboding and truth. It allows Darth Vader #20 to leap right into the action, without preamble. It’s a good thing, too, because it grants us maximum page space for an explosive chase that involves Darth Vader pursuing two inquisitors who are on the run. Given the power of the Force and the unwavering strength of Vader’s resolve, the hunt yields more than your typical totals of meager collateral damage. It was quite entertaining.
Darth Vader has no chill. Or in more colloquial terms, he is unforgiving. Mercy isn’t connected to him in any degree. A hint of suspicion in lack of loyalty to the Empire yields… well the events of this issue, for example. The terrifying thing about the hunt in Darth Vader #20 is the fact that even the inquisitors don’t know why they are being attacked. For readers, this drastically facilitates page turning, because we want to know too. While Vader is undoubtedly a being born of pure evil there’s always a strong deliberation behind his actions. This drives that fact home.
We learn that the inquisitors are being hunted because one of them showed weakness and hesitation before a command of the Empire in the previous issue, something I had to go back to and re-read just to see if I had missed anything. Even though she carried out the task, the fact that there was even a hint of a doubt led to Vader’s decision to exact punishment… with her life. Intense, right? Talk about a hostile work environment.
Anyway, the chase was full of disregard and destruction. I mean, at one point, a couple minding their own business is killed by a speeder that was destroyed as a result of Vader’s pursuit, and the Dark Lord doesn’t even so much as glance in that direction. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to drop your jaw and cringe at the same time. It’s pretty raw. Plus, we’ll find later that the person killed was a senator. Ouch.
Camuncoli’s art doesn’t fail at portraying how menacing Vader is, and it excels capturing the intensity of the fight. His action is superb. From every leap, parry, and Force grip, there’s something about his work that makes us feel the rush. During the chase, there was a double saber throw that cut through a speeder that had me practically applauding over the page. Simply incredible.
Sanchez-Almara and Archiniega’s colors excellently enhance some already powerful art. The purples and oranges in the sky set the scene at dusk and it makes for a macabre beauty when matched with the devastation wrought throughout Coruscant. Furthermore, they really know how to make that a red blade contrast well in against blacks as and dark greys. Amazing work.
If you aren’t reading Vader, now is the time to do so. These issues are serving as the set up for a very important plot piece revealed in Rogue One. You should read to find out what that is. Charles Soule’s Darth Vader is still one of the best books on the stands. Don’t disservice yourself by failing to read it. Pick it up now.
P.S. Darth Vader #19 is a good starting point for new readers.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 destroyed speeders.