A Comic Panel Far Far Away: The Emperor’s Fist Strikes In ‘Age Of Rebellion: Darth Vader’

by Tony Thornley
Cover by Terry and Rachel Dodson

Darth Vader was once a fearsome figure. He was a dark harbinger of death, and a grim omen for any character in science fiction that crossed him. However, over the years sales of plush Sith Lords, theme park commercials, and hip-hop dance offs took the edge off the character. However, in the last six years, Marvel has restored that edge, and this week we’re going to take a look at one of those frightening stories.

Last year, Marvel released three series of one-shots, spotlighting characters in each of the major eras of Star Wars. In Age of Rebellion Greg Pak highlighted the heroes and villains of the original movies. It was easy to see from Darth Vader, with Ramon Bachs, Stephane Paitreau, and Travis Lanham, exactly why Pak was later hired to relaunch the Sith Lord’s spotlight series earlier this year.

After one of the Dark Lord’s missions apparently goes awry, Vader is ordered to follow every order of the Imperial Governor he wronged. The petty bureaucrat allows that power to go to his head. However, he is about to learn a lesson about why you shouldn’t cross a Sith Lord.

This is a standard length one-shot, but Pak fills it with detail and worldbuilding. This isn’t the Vader of the original trilogy, but a younger, more brash Sith. He writes a Vader that’s halfway between the angry young Jedi of the second Vader series, and the effective force of nature from Marvel’s first series. He’s completely unstoppable, and Pak makes it clear this isn’t a person you want to cross.

Bachs’ line work is straightforward, but he makes the characters around Vader extremely expressive. For Vader himself though he uses small tricks to get the mood across, such as simple bits of body language, and focusing on small quirks of his body language. But where his art shines is in the splash pages, showing Vader at his terrifying heights, mowing through droids, battalions of soldiers and even monsters. The only disappointing thing about this story is that it’s so short, and we don’t get more of Bachs’ fantastic Dark Lord.

The entire “Ages” line was worth checking out but this issue is one of the standouts. We get to see the greatest science fiction villains of all time at the height of his power, and that’s worth it on its own.

This one shot is still readily available at your local comic shop and is available digitally. It was also collected in Star Wars Age of Rebellion Villains and Star Wars: Age of Rebellion in print and digital formats.

We’d like to ask, on behalf of our friends and colleagues that own and are employed by comic shops, that you first try to get these books at your local shop. This is a very uncertain time for owners, employees, and their families. Show some love for your community and friends by buying from your regular shop when possible and safe.

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