Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Ryan Odagawa
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Douglas Wheatley
What’s Free Comic Book Day without Star Wars? Well, Brian Wood and Ryan Odagawa deliver a tale titled The Assassination of Darth Vader, detailing one such attempt (readers of Ghost Prison and Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin and many more tales know this is an explored topic), and aside from some awkwardness at the start, the short story leaves readers stunned and craving more great Vader action.
Brian Wood is best known to the Star Wars community as the current writer of Star Wars, a title I’ve decided to pass on reading at this time so I don’t know how the characters are portrayed there, but here, Wood does a great job capturing Darth Vader in action. Darth Vader’s early lines and parts of his narration seem off for his character and filled me with some concern at the start. Most comic stories featuring Vader are narrated by other individuals, so maybe “hearing” Vader’s thoughts is unusual for me but greatly add to his character in the latter pages of the story. And when the action takes off, Vader is quick to react and even receives aid from a fan favorite bounty hunter. Wood excels here with Vader, showing how ruthless and unforgiving we all know him to be without alienating anything that came before.
Ryan Odagawa’s art is good and shows the “lived in” galaxy that George Lucas wanted captured in Star Wars back in 1977. Even in the smallest of panels, the script calls for lots of wide angles, and Odagawa does well, adding all the necessary details for the characters, the ships, and the Force. The use of the Force isn’t shown in the most obvious of ways as I liked in The Force Unleashed, but the sound effects and exaggerated hand gestures help readers recognize it almost immediately, just like in the movies. The best panels are on the last page, where Odagawa illustrates the ruthlessness and unforgiving nature of Vader before everything goes silent in another failed assassination attempt.
The goal of free comics like this is to draw in new readers to current and upcoming stories. This was a great Darth Vader story (I couldn’t help but be impressed by the end), but I don’t think I’ll be jumping onto the Star Wars train just yet. However, if Darth Vader becomes the focus in future issues, I may find it hard to resist.
Advanced Review Copy (ARC) courtesy of Dark Horse. All staff members can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.