It’s certainly been a fun ride with Marvel’s first big crossover event between their two longest running series in the canonical Star Wars franchise. The six issue crossover event, which began with the Vader Down #1 one-shot and spanned across the Star Wars and Star Wars: Darth Vader series, saw its conclusion this week with the release of Star Wars: Darth Vader #15. Read on for the full review. Spoilers ahead…
To bring you up to speed, this story arc begins with everyone’s favorite Sith Lord tracking down his son on Vrogas Vos, where intel from his associate, Dr. Aphra, said he would be visiting an old Jedi temple. Upon arriving at the planet, Vader crashes an unexpected party of rebel squadrons in orbit, with Luke among them.
After Vader virtually decimates the Rebel ships single-handedly, Luke crashes into his TIE, sending them both plummeting toward the surface below. Over the course of the subsequent issues, we follow Vader on his search for Luke as he proves time and time again what an unstoppable force that he is against the Rebels and everything they can throw at him. Han, Chewie, Leia and the droids head to the planet to help their friend, and upon arrival, Leia jumps on the opportunity to take Vader down once and for all while the others search for Luke.
All is well until Aphra and her murderous droids arrive, followed by a visit from Wookiee bounty hunter Black Krrsantan and a highly ambitious and perhaps over-zealous Mon Calamarian cyborg named Karbin, who would love nothing better than to take Vader’s place at the Emperor’s side. Karbin challenges Vader in battle, while his troopers are sent to capture Luke Skywalker.
This final issue starts on a high note with a full page panel devoted to the duel that began in the previous issue. Leia is at the scene, still looking for an opportunity to finally take out Vader, when she gets a distress call from Threepio. As she is faced with the choice to remain and try to kill Vader or to leave and help her friends, she remembers Alderaan and all she has lost, and ultimately chooses to save perhaps the only thing she has left – her friends.
As Leia leaves the scene, the lightsaber battle continues. Although I am fully confident that Vader had the situation well in hand, Aphra – in an attempt to get back in the dark lord’s good graces – offers her assistance, sacrifing her ship to bring down Karbin, who is finally silenced by a swift and merciful stroke from Vader’s crimson blade.
Although Karbin was defeated, his troops succeeded in their capture of Skywalker, and Vader – not wanting the boy to be delivered to the Emperor by any hands other than his own – uses the Force to bring down the Imperial shuttle, allowing Luke to escape.
Seeing the shuttle crash after being surprisingly rescued from Black Krrsantan by C-3PO (I always wondered how Wookiee hair would respond under electric shock), Han and company head to the crash site to pick up Luke. When they arrive back at the Falcon, they find a surprise waiting for them.
After losing her ship, Aphra is looking for a new ride and believes she has found one in Han’s old ship. And she’d have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that meddling princess who surprises her with a mean left hook.
With the Falcon back in their possession and all our heroes back together in one place, they leave the planet with their new prisoner who they hope can provide information useful to the Rebellion.
After a near perfect first issue, the story continued to pick up momentum throughout the remainder of the event and came to a pretty satisfying conclusion in this issue. Although it had its weird moments, like the wasp-worms and the slightly over-the-top Wookiee fight in the previous issue, Vader Down gave us what we wanted from Vader and also introduced some new possibilities regarding the Force and the further importance of ancient Jedi temples in future stories.
I feel like they are really starting to use the comic medium to expound upon mysteries of the Force, and hopefully, future storytelling will continue on this path. I look forward to seeing where both of these series go from here. I wouldn’t say this issue is fantastic on its own, but it successfully delivers in wrapping up the crossover event and setting up future storylines. If you have been following this event or the Star Wars and/or Darth Vader series, then this issue is a must have. If not, I recommend that you wait for the inevitable trade paperback (which will more than likely include all 6 parts of the event) and read it as a unified story.
Vader Down is possibly the most action-packed story arc in the canonical world of Star Wars comics so far, and is definitely worth the read. Until next time, may the Force be with you, and remember to support your local comic shops.