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Published on March 26th, 2015 | by Noel Thorne

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Marvel Star Wars: Darth Vader #3 Review

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Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader #3 should be renamed Anything!: The Comic! with the subtitle: Bad Ideas, Part 3!

Gillen’s Darth Vader series is taking place alongside Jason Aaron’s main Star Wars story set between A New Hope and Empire. Vader’s just discovered Luke has the Force and the series is supposedly Vader setting out to discover the boy’s identity. The iconic title crawl to this third issue even reminds us of this plotline.

What happens instead? An unexpected homage to Lucas’ second best creation, Indiana Jones! A new character, Aphra (aka female space Indy), is breaking into a high security facility and the sequence plays out like a sci-fi version of the opening to Raiders: lasers have replaced the darts, a rolling attack droid is the giant ball, and Aphra makes it through the closing door just in time. As a final wink, she exclaims that the precious item she’s after “should be in an armory!”.

vader 3

I have no idea why Gillen chose to reference Indy in a STAR WARS comic though I didn’t hate it as Salvador Larroca’s art gives it a stunning vitality. Then Vader enters and it’s yet another nod to another famous scene, where Luke is hanging off and Vader is asking him to join him, with Aphra replacing Luke. Again, no clue as to what the meaning of it is besides the fact that Gillen probably liked that scene and decided to throw anything and everything into his Vader series, just because.

At this point though, Gillen isn’t the only writer to realise the Star Wars characters by themselves don’t make the most compelling protagonists (Mark Waid’s Princess Leia series is even more dire). The main reason Aaron’s Star Wars comic works is because it’s an ensemble, like the hugely successful movies.

So Gillen decides to introduce some droids that look like Threepio and Artoo – except they’re EVIL! Oooo, edgy! Threepio’s eyes glow, Artoo is packing a crazy arsenal of weapons and they’re both black metal. Why are there evil copies of the two most famous droids in a Darth Vader comic? Because hack attack! And if Vader wanted an army of droids, why pick these two designs instead of the more formidable attack droids?

darth vader 3

Larroca’s art remains the only impressive thing about this title. Gillen’s scripts read very chaotically with Vader meeting a lot of villains in the first issue, taking out a minder in the second, and recruiting a female space Indy and a pair of droids similar to those Luke has in the third. But he is heading towards finding Luke – he’s just doing so in the most drawn-out way possible.

Gillen’s philosophy behind the writing in Darth Vader #3 seems to be, if you cram a comic with enough pop culture references, it’ll make up for the lack of substance or originality! It makes for a very unimpressive issue. This title continues to prove the idea that non-ensemble Star Wars stories simply don’t work.

darth vader 3 cover

Publisher: Marvel

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Salvador Larroca

Colourist: Edgar Delgado

Noel Thorne

Probably reading comics as you're reading this.

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