One of the most fascinating tropes in fiction is the hunt. Seeing two figures locked in a struggle is always an exciting experience, with one trying to overcome obstacles in their path to stay ahead, and hopefully completely elude the other. However, Star Wars: Target Vader #2 flips that trope on its year, entirely because of one question- who is the cat, and who is the mouse?
Robbie Thompson, Stefano Landini, Neeraj Menon, and Joe Caramagna put Valance on Vader’s trail.
Valance’s crew is still trying to feel one another out, as he leads the group to one of his contacts. Naturally though, the Empire and the Rebellion get in their way. Will the bounty hunter’s actions put them closer to their goal or will it push Darth Vader away? And what does it have to do with The Hidden Hand?
Thompson tells an exciting chase story, with the whole thing hanging on Valance. The bounty hunter is as difficult to read for the readers as he is for his crew, which is a great deliberate choice on Thompson’s part. It creates a distance in the narrative for us too, building suspense and tension as the action unfolds (and appears to go horribly wrong).
Another smart choice in the story is keeping Vader as a bogeyman. Thompson’s script only includes him at several brief key moments, with very little dialogue. Landini also keeps him to a minimum on page, with the Dark Lord only actually appearing in four panels.
Landini is able to mix the various conflicts in the story really well. One of the biggest problems space opera stories have in comics is portraying ship to ship conflicts, but he does that ably, giving the TIE fighters and Star Destroyers a great sense of scale and motion. He lays out the crew’s firefight across the surface of the planet in a simple grid but uses engaging close-ups and action shots to make it feel more alive and vibrant.
Vader and Valance’s game has just begun. So which one is the cat, and which is the mouse? We don’t know yet, but it will be fun to get there.
Star Wars: Target Vader #2 is available now from Marvel Comics.