Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Mark Brooks
The Vader Down event has ended. Darth Vader has now returned to Coruscant with an important delivery for the Emperor. The Emperor, in turn, has a new mission for Vader, to return to the mining planet of Shu-Torun where Vader had assisted with a regime change. Vader is also secretly hunting for Doctor Aphra who was captured by the Rebels.
The book opens with Darth Vader on Coruscant before the Emperor. It’s pretty clear that Vader is unhappy, well even more unhappy than he normally is. He presents Commander Karbin’s broken body before the Emperor to show that he has bested one of his potential replacements. It’s unclear if the Emperor is happy about this or not. Well, as happy as a Sith Lord can be. Other than asking if he was killed by a lightsaber, the Emperor doesn’t seem to react much one way or the other to his gift. We know that Palpatine is always looking for the most powerful people.
The Emperor gives Vader a new assignment, to return to the world of Shu-Torun. We last saw Vader here in the Annual #1 issue where Vader helped install a puppet government. It seems that a civil war is brewing and ore production is down as the barons are revolting against the Empire. They don’t seem to be interested in joining the Rebellion, instead they just want to push the Imperial friendly government off the planet.
We only see the very end of one battle against the Ore-Barons. They have repurposed their mining machines into war machines. However, Vader shows them how far he is willing to go in battle. It’s more than the Queen realized and Vader is ready to do it again and again until order is restored. I liked seeing how far Vader is willing to go and the shocked realization of those around him at what he is willing and capable of doing.
The best part of the issue is in the last two pages where we see Vader begin to track down Aphra, that for me is a much stronger story point than dealing with the Ore-Barons. Kieron Gillen continues to write a great Darth Vader, he seems to have a knack for the dark side and the machinations of the Sith. However, I didn’t feel like the art was quite as strong as previous issues. Normally I’ve been enjoying Larroca’s artwork but here it felt off. The scenes with the Emperor just feel like they were lifted directly from the Revenge of the Sith film, nothing felt truly new or different.
The opening of this latest chapter is not as shocking or thrilling as the previous issues have been. In this issue we don’t get much action, it’s more in the plotting and scheming phase. I’m sure the stakes will raise later, but here there isn’t much to really gather much interest.