Review – The Sith Enter the War of the Bounty Hunters in Marvel’s Star Wars: Darth Vader #13

 

War of the Bounty Hunters continues! This week, Darth Vader presses on in his pursuit of Han Solo, hoping to grab the notorious smuggler and set a trap for Luke. With former nemesis (now dubious sidekick) Ochi of Bestoon along for the ride, Vader finds his way to Bokku the Hutt in hopes of learning where he can find Han and who might stand in his way. SPOILERS AHEAD….

 

 

This issue opens with another montage in Vader’s mind. He sees the correlation between the hope Obi-Wan Kenobi placed in Luke and the path the young Jedi struck out on, ultimately converging to defeat Vader and the Sith. The opening is unsettling and Vader’s descent into an even darker state doesn’t hint any redemption awaits him. This is Vader in an absolute, soulless monolith, fueled with determination to claim the galaxy for himself. Luke and the Emperor have abandoned him. The two are foundational to Vader’s polarity of light and dark but now they’re gone. Vader chooses to find his own path and will cut down anyone in his way. Now, Vader proposes to help Bokku the Hutt overthrow Jabba, who we learn leads the Grand Hutt Council.

 

 

Vader’s proposal isn’t without a cost. They are after a group of bounty hunter droids, in the remote regions of Hutt territory and they need Bokku’s guidance. The Hutt is reluctant to have Vader and the Empire traveling deep into Hutt space unchecked, so he offers to charter them on his ship. Once they arrive at Zee-Nine City Seven, on an unnamed planet, the droids quickly take notice and slice into the systems of the Imperial shuttle. Bokku is impressed with the droids ability to crack Imperial codes, noting the difficulty. The shuttle crashes and the droids launch an assault on Vader and Ochi.

 

 

Ochi taunts the droids – the same ones who attacked  Vader in his first encounter with Ochi. The redundancy in this series often bothers me. Greg Pak is a good writer and his Darth Vader certainly has it’s moments, but it gets shaky for me when these Vader flex moments fill the pages instead of more exploration of the characters. It’s been thirteen issues and I still barely feel like I know Ochi, who doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. If this series continues the pattern of plugging plot holes from The Rise of Skywalker, I’d like to know more about Ochi. His role in the saga is a pivotal one and a little backstory would give the character’s use more meaning.

 

 

The droids have a warrior of their own, IG-88. Prepared to meet Vader, IG-88 comes out blasting and thanks to The Mandalorian, we know how much damage these droids can do. Vader doesn’t hesitate to meet the fire with his lightsaber. IG-88 is prepared to meet Vader with more than just firepower.

 

 

Someone found access to Vader’s life support system and sliced into it. IG-88 holds a control, capable of making Vader do what he wants. The droid hints he gained this control through someone close to Vader. While Vader’s body is at the mercy of IG-88, he still has control of the Force. Vader retrieves the control and uses the Force to control IG-88.

 

 

Things don’t end well for IG-88 and Vader makes quick work of the rest of the droids. Meanwhile, Bokku the Hutt is convinced the droid ambush will defeat Vader. The Hutt wants to cover his tracks and decides to destroy the city from his ship.

 

 

Artists Raffaele Ienco and Jason Keith often go big in this issue and it pays off. There are some great visuals here and their depiction of Vader has been my favorite so far. Vader deflects the blast as the remaining droids escape. Though abandoned, the large network of computers the droids used to slice into galactic communications, still sits with potential answers Vader needs. If he finds Han Solo he can find Luke Skywalker. Using IG-88’s components, Vader and Ochi access the database, which doesn’t offer many answers. Something does stand out to Ochi, though.

 

 

Crimson Dawn! Is this foreshadowing who Vader may encounter soon. Yes, I’d love a duel between the Dark Lord of the Sith and Qi’ra. Wonder if she picked up any lightsaber training from Darth Maul. With reports of Emilia Clarke telegraphing to Disney and Lucasfilm how interested she is in pursuing that story, I’m paying attention to this. We’ll see where this new lead takes Vader and Ochi.

 

 

Meanwhile, on Coruscant, an reconstructed IG-88 reports back to these ominous acolytes. This is going to be interesting. Did these people come from Exegol? Administrator Moore suggests they have come to unite against the Emperor and Vader. Somehow, they know Han’s importance and are using him to track Vader. I’m going to be thinking a lot about these hooded figures until we get some answers in the next issue. You have me intrigued, Greg Pak.

 

I’ve remained tepid on this series overall but I’m starting to warm. The art of this issue overshadowed the writing in this issue. The Vader cliches are all there and I’m hoping with the introduction of these new adversaries Greg Pak avoids them. Pak started this series out very strong, focusing on Vader’s remaining grief for Padmé. Vader is one of the most interesting characters in storytelling and deserves a little more than being an invincible, cyborg nightmare. And I know Greg Pak can do better so I hope he does.

 

RATING: 6/10

 

 

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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.

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