Star Wars: Vader Down (COMIC BOOK REVIEW)

The first true crossover for Marvel’s new age of Star Wars comics, Vader Down proves a highly entertaining read, but certainly not a necessary one. The full crossover collects the one-off Vader Down issue, the Star Wars ongoing series’ issues #13-14, and the Darth Vader ongoing series’ issues #13-15. It takes place between episodes IV and V.

(Minor spoilers will be highlighted.)

Luke Skywalker has found his way to a former Jedi temple on the planet Vrogas Vas. Through an underground informant named Dr. Aphra, Vader discovers his current location and goes after him. He unknowingly flies right into three squadrons of Rebel fighters doing drills above the planet. Vader takes out many, but thanks to the help of Luke Skywalker, both he and Vader crash land on different parts of the planet. Vader subsequently shows the Rebels the true power of the Dark Side.

As canon Star Wars goes, very little can effectively be expounded on between episodes IV and V, making this a hit or miss. And though it isn’t necessarily a miss, it doesn’t hit all the right notes either. You cannot believably create story after story without giving the audience anything substantial or new to the known universe or the characters within, or else it cheapens what chronologically comes next in The Empire Strikes Back. There’s always a chance that you’ll stretch the credibility with in-between texts. Thankfully there’s a 3-year gap between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, so there is plenty of wiggle room to play with. Vader Down doesn’t fall into that credibility trap, but it does fall into another.

Dr. Aphra’s droids strike too close to camp for me, as they’re essentially Bizarro World versions of R2 and 3PO. BT-1, an assassin droid shares a similar shape to your favorite astromech droid, and 0-0-0 (pronounced Triple-Zero) is a black-plated protocol droid who’s designed to specialize in etiquette, customs, translation and (most importantly) torture. And much of this collection is their pairing off with R2-D2 and C-3PO, which seems more of an elaborate stunt than a realistic addition to the new canon. And then Krrsantan, a Wookiee bounty hunter goes head to head with Chewbacca, and it all felt far too convenient.

The crossover works as a complete story in and of itself, only if you read all the issues found in Vader Down, Darth Vader, and Star Wars, which will alienate many readers who are only reading one series and not the others. Where the story leaves off in any given Star Wars issue, the exact same story is then picked up in the next Darth Vader issue, and so on. I was disappointed that the different series didn’t show differing points of views, and instead they’ve merged all the viewpoints together.

That said, I love the direction taken by the story. I love seeing Vader giving the Rebels hell. And I love seeing Luke search out ancient Jedi temples, something that fleshes out the events of The Force Awakens. The artwork is consistently gorgeous, especially the scope of the splash pages. And it leaves the story open for more adventures, which I can’t wait for.

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4 thoughts on “Star Wars: Vader Down (COMIC BOOK REVIEW)

  1. I enjoyed Vader Down, though I read it in a marathon catch-up with all the Star Wars comics released to that point, some of which were a little too weird for me, so I suppose some of that might have been just in comparison to those. The droids are annoying, of course, but I liked the sense that it was an event, something that the two series had somewhat built up to in their respective arcs.

    I hadn’t actually picked up on it until you mentioned it, either, but this is totally an unnecessary crossover, yeah. Well, maybe not unnecessary, but it’s more like they took a five part story and gave two parts to each of the ongoing series they have, with the first issue a standalone. Hm.

    That said, I still enjoyed it, and had hoped for more events like these, but the news about cancelling Vader soon kinda puts paid to that idea! Unless it’s going to be replaced with something else that would fit, though I get the feeling we may be seeing a move to a different part of the timeline if they bring out a new ongoing series…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. This is true, though I’m not sure how soon we’ll be seeing a lot of that. I’m convinced that anything to do with Luke will be kept fairly off-limits until at least episode 8 is on top of us, which only really leaves room for the odd book like Bloodline.

        I’m thinking we’ll see a Clone Wars comic series soon. Or maybe something like The Old Republic. Something fairly safe, both from a story point and also for fan service…

        Though I would love to get more on the period leading up to TFA!


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