The Best of the New Star Wars Comics, So Far, PART TWO

2015-Comics collage hard case

Hard Case continues this week’s series by your three favorite Star Wars comic reviewers, The Best of the New Star Wars Comics, So Far (link to previous review HERE).  If you missed Lady Mushashi’s pick, be sure to take a look, as we are going to keep going throughout the week.


The year 2015 will forever be remembered by Star Wars fans as the year that Star Wars made its most dramatic and triumphant return to pop culture in the history of the franchise. And it did so in the biggest way possible by appealing to fans new and old, reigniting the world’s passion for the saga, giving us new stories, yet remaining true to form. Granted, the biggest moment in 2015 occurred in December with the release of a little movie called The Force Awakens. But for the eager Star Wars fan just chomping at the bit to get their hands on some new Star Wars material, 2015 gave us so much more than just a new addition to the film saga.​


Along with Star Wars: Rebels and the multiple novels that were released throughout the year, fans were also treated to 50+ Star Wars comic issues across seven different titles. One of the coolest aspects of the comics is how the writers are able to fill in the gaps between the films, and in some cases, make you view the films in a whole new light. All of the new comic books from 2015 on are also considered official Star Wars canon, which gives these stories an added weight of significance that has never existed before in the expanded universe of Star Wars.


Having recently come out of a lengthy contract with Dark Horse Comics, Disney/Lucasfilm entered into a new contract with Marvel Comics, another Disney subsidiary, and the original publisher of Star Wars comics back in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. Although there are undoubtedly some misses in last year’s massive comic book lineup, I would argue that Marvel got a lot more right than it got wrong. The one story arc in particular that really resonated with me was the first arc of the Darth Vader series, simply titled “Vader”. I loved this storyline, and the standout issue and conclusion of this story arc also happens to be my top pick of 2015: Darth Vader #6.​

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Salvador Larroca

Cover: Adi Granov

Following his defeat at the Death Star, Vader found himself having to earn back his master’s favor, as the Emperor’s displeasure with his apprentice became clear from the beginning of issue #1 of the series. Vader then began to pursue his own agenda, enlisting the assistance of an archaeologist named Dr. Aphra to help him acquire a droid army of his own and hiring the notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett to track down the Force-strong rebel pilot that destroyed the Death Star.

In issue #5, after having found out that Palpatine has been investing in alternatives to replace him, Vader and his droid army stormed the secluded stronghold of a technology specialist named Cylo, who has been using advanced cybernetics to augment the abilities of a group of various alien beings and humans in an effort to make Force powers an obsolete thing of the past.

After discovering in the previous issue that the Emperor himself is on board the ship and that he intends to use the situation as both a demonstration of Cylo’s creations and as a test for Vader, now in issue #6, Vader accepts the challenge as he attempts to show these abominations that they are nothing compared to the power of the Force.

After a brief skirmish, the Emperor puts a stop to the contest and agrees to utilize Cylo’s cyborgs while also letting Vader back in his good graces, as he is impressed by Vader’s ability to act behind his back to achieve his own personal victory. Nonetheless, Vader’s faith in his master is shaken as he realizes that the Emperor had always had a contingency plan in place to replace him.

Palpatine’s response to Vader’s concern is blunt and to the point. He rubs salt in the wound as he mentions just how much Vader disappointed him on Mustafar all those years ago and that only the strongest are worthy of the Sith mantle. If Vader had been defeated, he is unworthy, but as it stands in light of his accomplishments, the Emperor decides to give him the chance to once again proven himself worthy.

My favorite part of this whole issue though, has to be its conclusion. Shortly upon his arrival aboard his Star Destroyer after his discussion with the Emperor, Vader gets a surprise visit from the bounty hunter in his employ. Although Boba Fett was unable to apprehend the rebel pilot, he was able to provide Vader with a name – Skywalker. The last few panels of this comic gave me chills.
Vader’s recollection of the moment in Revenge of the Sith where Padme breaks the news of her pregancy and that moment where the Emperor tells him that Vader killed her in his anger coupled with Vader clenching his fists in burning rage as he shatters the first layer of transparisteel was amazingly done.

Through his own insight, Vader instantly realizes that he has a son, and that the Emperor has been lying to him this whole time. His undying loyalty to his master has now been severed. His own personal agenda to overthrow the Emperor and his obsession with finding his son to help him do so is set in motion in this one pivotal moment. And it’s a beautiful thing.

This scene also fundamentally changed my understanding of the interaction between Vader and the Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back, as I realized that Vader knew about his son before the Emperor revealed it to him. He was just feigning ignorance when he asked of him “How is this possible?” and that he had intentionally been keeping this information from the Emperor.

I felt that this moment also added weight to his conversation with Luke on Bespin where he calls to his son to join him and overthrow the Emperor. Up to this point in the movie, Vader seemed to be the Emperor’s lapdog and now all of a sudden, he is plotting a coup against him. This comes as somewhat of a revelation in the film, but it’s neat to see how the comic highlights that this is actually something Vader had been plotting all along.

There were so many great comics this past year and the list of my runners-up would be too hard to narrow down to single issues. Kanan: The Last Padawan is probably my favorite series to date with Shattered Empire and Lando falling in closely behind. Without a doubt though, my favorite single issue is Darth Vader #6. The series hit some bumps along the way following the great conclusion to this first arc, but it seems to be getting back on track. I look forward to what 2016 will bring and I can’t wait to see where we go from here!


+ posts

Kyle Larson lives in Portland, Oregon. When he's not running trails, he's reading and writing.

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson lives in Portland, Oregon. When he's not running trails, he's reading and writing.

31 thoughts on “The Best of the New Star Wars Comics, So Far, PART TWO

  • February 5, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    putting chewbakka’s cover is almost ironic.

    • February 5, 2016 at 11:51 pm

      As ironic as your incoherent sentence with an unforgivable misspelling?

      • February 6, 2016 at 12:07 am

        1) right, there was something that looked wrong, corrected it
        2) you’re the same guy that attempted to heat me up when I criticised the lasat language and its pronunciation, do I have to think that you’re at war with me? And if so, what did I do to you?

        • February 6, 2016 at 12:45 am

          So be it if I am.

          I don’t keep track of who posts the shit grammar I see on the web, I only call it out for wasting my time in reading and attempting to make sense of it.

          I hate shit grammar, syntax, and spelling. #sorrynotsorry

          • February 6, 2016 at 6:09 am

            To grammar police members such as yourself, I say:

          • February 6, 2016 at 11:40 am

            Now, I don’t think I did that much of “shit grammar”, and if I did, it’s one case in a million.
            Then, English is not even my mother language. I’m 17, hungarian and live in Italy and learned almost by myself, and I’m considered the best in my class (and I’m not lying). Your attitude is frustrating and offensive to all of us strangers that learnt by ourselves English in order to understand sites like this. I would like to see you writing in Italian, or any other language.

          • February 8, 2016 at 10:05 pm

            If your time is so precious, you probably shouldn’t be wasting it on some silly Star Wars forum. I’m an English teacher and shoddy grammar often gets on my nerves, but it’s also important to think before you bitch. It’s the Internet. The Internet connects the world. Not everyone in the world speaks English as their first language. As a person who fancies himself to be intelligent, you should know this.

            But I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that this isn’t really about grammar. More likely, it’s just your way to swing your virtual club at folks without any real consequences. I doubt you’d treat someone like this in real life. So don’t do it online.

  • February 5, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    “And I understand US precisely.” is iconic even more than rage-filled window breaking. I feel that this is the first time Vader goes further than just contemplating killing Sheev.

  • February 6, 2016 at 12:52 am

    No matter how cool a Star Wars comic can potentially be, I just can’t wrap my head around “it’s canon”. These are stories which almost always seem to go out of their way to connect characters from the films and make the galaxy smaller. An example right here is that, of course, out of all the 44w02028 megagoogool billion trillions of people it was Boba Fett who told Vader that it was Luke Skywalker who destroyed the Death Star. Because…Boba Fett. This is a frustrating element to me personally and one which, as an example, makes me dislike books like “Lost Stars” where there are so many links between characters it just becomes hard to buy. The original trilogy by its setup, whether on purpose or not, promises this vast galaxy of adventure beyond the movies and every author (almost) goes out of his/her way to zoom in on the same cast/locations. Of course Poe had to grow up on Yavin IV; of course Finn talks to a character who links to Count Dooku; of course Ezra meets Ashoka, Lando, Vader, Leia. I am aware that for many fans cameos and winks and nods is the poodoo, but personally I’d like some serious expansion. And lo! And behold. The best stuff in TFA was the new trio. Not saying I can’t enjoy a series like VADER. This article has me curious. Especially since I’ve “known” the author through his career at PC Gamer UK long before he did anything SW. But they could at least try to write a story feat. an all-new cast. If they exist please enlighten me. I have read “Aftermath” which came the closest to what I am looking for, as well as the TFA short stories (though they all contain nods and winks they are at least not as contrived). That being said, Star Wars! Da da da DA daaa

    • February 6, 2016 at 1:08 am

      I truly dont understand what is so unlikely about Force users meeting each other ? When evan at height of their power jedi have around 10000 members. It sound like big number but take in consideration i live in 60000 city yet i meet with mayor three times already just walking down the street.

      And no mystical energy guide us to each other.

      • February 6, 2016 at 1:57 am

        It’s unlikely because we’re talking a galaxy. That’s like 100 billion stars. And a lot of these invented coincidental links include non-Force sensitive characters. I want new characters who have their own adventures. A band of flying mercenaries in an unexplored corner of the galaxy; a royal family facing civil war on their homeworld and request assistance from an Imperial Stat Destroyer with its brand new admiral character who never met any movie character.
        But its more about a need for new characters and locations

        • February 7, 2016 at 4:06 am

          Just because one isn’t sensitive to it, doesn’t it mean it doesn’t guide them. “It ties everything in the Galaxy together.” Even the lowly Jar Jar was lead by the force to destroy that Tank on Naboo, and give that speech that granted Palpatine his powers.

        • February 8, 2016 at 10:00 pm

          “I want new characters who have their own adventures.”

          Count me in. I’ve been singing this song since early on in the EU. It’s a big galaxy. There’s plenty of room for new stories.

    • February 6, 2016 at 8:57 am

      But… The way Vader addresses Fett in ESB (“No disintegrations”) implies they’ve met and worked together in the past… That why Fett is there in the first place. That’s no coincidence.

      • February 6, 2016 at 9:21 am

        Well that depends on your interpretation, right? I always thought it was meant to show how infamous Fett was- even Vader knew his merhods of destruction. I kinda feel that is what they were going for, at any rate.

        • February 6, 2016 at 2:05 pm

          sorry but there’s no room for misinterpretation there. It’s evident that Fett already worked for Vader and disintegrated something he shouldn’t have.

          • February 6, 2016 at 9:37 pm

            Oh! So when I took that line as “Fett is an infamous bounty hunter so Vader has heard of his brutal methods so by saying it the audience knows Fett is a badass” what I really thought was that Vader and Fett were buddies. Got it.

          • February 6, 2016 at 10:57 pm

            Majority of people took it for granted, including myself, so yes.

          • February 6, 2016 at 11:01 pm

            If you say so. There can only be one correct interpretation of any given dialogue in Star Wars.

          • February 7, 2016 at 12:36 am

            You’re trying to distort what I say; I keep referring to that specific scene and dialogue only.

  • February 6, 2016 at 1:05 am

    “Be A Rebel. Read A Book” says the Star Wars DK ad right above me. If that doesn’t indicate we live in a society of illiterate people then I don’t know what does,

    • February 6, 2016 at 4:24 am

      does that make us hipsters then? 😉

      • February 6, 2016 at 9:07 am

        *breaks open the Pabst Blue Ribbon*

  • February 6, 2016 at 3:18 am

    this makes me wonder what changed from this rage filled realization and “ruling the galaxy as father and son” to vader being all but resigned to his fate when he and luke meet again in jedi. why not propose another team up or maybe help him kill the emperor and then maybe make a deal with the rebels?

    • February 7, 2016 at 4:02 am

      I always assumed it was because Vader realized his master had outwitted him. Either he be forced to kill his son, or to reveal his master plan. He choose the former in the initial duel, unable to see the third option, return to the light, until Palps was killing Luke.

  • February 6, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Some really good stuff. I loved Vader finding out about his son. I wish we could have seen that in animated form.

    I didn’t like the notion of the Emperor being disappointed with Vader on Mustafar. He certainly doesn’t look disappointed to me in those scenes. Oh well.

    • February 6, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Palatine’s the sort of guy to say one thing and mean another. I think he may have been surprised and disappointed in his apprentice’s inability to defeat Obi-wan, but the end result allowed him to take more control over Vader.

  • February 6, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Just seeing those panels I’m getting a different take on the whole series. It’s good the references to ROTS, the art does a spot-on job of matching the films, while still making it perfectly important to the current events with Vader, that’s how flash-backs should be done.

  • February 7, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Awesome! Thank you! Is there any way you could put together a revised canon timeline with movies, novels and comics? That first one you did a while back was EXTREMELY helpful (::: Keep up the awesomeness!!

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