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My Review of Darth Vader #12 by Marvel Comics

5 Jun

June 5, 2021

Darth Vader #12, published this month by Marvel Comics, written by Greg Pak with art by Guiu Vilanova, is a Star Wars comic focusing on Darth Vader and is set just after The Empire Strikes Back. This issue is also a War of The Bounty Hunters tie-in.

The War of The Bounty Hunters begins when Boba Fett is ambushed and his bounty of the frozen-in-carbonite Han Solo is stolen on its way to Jabba the Hutt. The bounty is so high, and Solo has so many enemies, that a war has broken out among the bounty hunters of the galaxy to be the one to deliver him to Jabba and collect, or to be the one to kill Solo.

This issue begins with the aftermath of the storyline currently running in the title. Vader had dared to challenge the Emperor and received a painful beating in return. It also somehow shoehorns in the fleet the Emperor is building at Exegol, in a vain attempt to somehow make the The Rise of Skywalker relevant.

While recovering, Vader has a flashback to the first time he saw Han Solo in person and learned the name of the man who shot his TIE fighter in the Death Star trench.

Vader has used the vast resources of the Empire and his own fearsome Force abilities to track the Millennium Falcon to the planet Corellia. There, Vader tracks the ship to a docking bay and with his lightsaber…

…kills the owner of a ship parked across the street from the Millennium Falcon.

You see, there were two identical ships parked a few yards away from each other, and somehow, someway, goofy ol’ Vader was confused!

Han then reasoned that if a lummox like Vader could be flummoxed by two identical ships, then a dozen identical ships would totally addle his brain and they could escape while Vader stood there twiddling his lips.

And you know what? He was right.

We were next treated to my favorite page in the entire issue, a sequence of Darth Vader standing in line and dealing with bureaucracy at the Corellia DMV.

(FUN TIME! Copy and paste this Spoiler Alert to the top of this page where I should have put it to begin with.)

Spectacular writing like this must have fantastic art to match, and this art almost meets the heights of the writing. It actually isn’t bad at all but it is ruined by the colorists (color is credited to Dean White with Giada Marchisio) who insist on heavy use of black to the point of making even the brightest scene appear to be set in a coal mine. (This is not a problem in only this issue, the entire line of Star Wars comics suffers from this. Does the editor think this looks good?)

However, I do have to criticize artist Guiu Vilanova for this one. in the panel above where Vader and Solo lock eyes, the artist has switched their positions and they are looking away from each other. The two previous panels had Solo on the left, Vader on the right. Vilanova, for no reason I can see, has flipped their positions and now they do not even appear to be looking at each other!

Now compare it to this quick edit I made.

Not only does it retain the positioning of the first two panels, now with their eyes locked there is drama in the panel. I honestly do not see any advantage to the panel as published. This is a moment that needs more drama. Guiu Vilanova is a competent artist with his panels being technically solid, but his panel to panel continuity doesn’t flow well, with most panels seeming to stand alone from the other panels with no sense of movement from one to the other. I see no better demonstration of this than his poor choice of layout above.

I don’t read comics much anymore but I was curious about Vader and Han’s first meeting. I was disappointed.

MY RATING: DO NOT BUY.

Star Trek: The Entropy Effect

7 Jun

June 7, 2020

I’ve been reading a lot lately. With all the things going on the world, I wanted the book equivalent of comfort food. I decided to read an old Star Trek novel. It has been many years since I read one. I gave up on this type of fanfic sometime ago, but over the last couple of years my attitude has been slowly coming around. Truthfully, I was a being a snob about it.

So I picked The Entropy Effect by Vonda N. McIntyre. I read it may years ago, when it first came out and I remembered liking it, so I decided to give it another read. In fact, it was re-released ten years ago as part of Star Trek’s 40th anniversary celebration. 

This is the current cover.

That’s a pretty nice cover. Here’s the description from Wikipedia (their motto: we are constantly asking you to give us money although the work is all written and edited for free by you.):

The Entropy Effect is a novel by Vonda N. McIntyre set in the fictional Star Trek Universe. It was originally published in 1981 by Pocket Books and is the second in its long-running series of Star Trek novels (and the first original novel in that series; the first of the series is the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture). It is also the first source to give Sulu and Uhura first names later made canon, Hikaru (in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) and Nyota (in Star Trek).

Despite this book being nearly 40 years old, I’ll avoid spoilers and tell you only that it involves time travel shenanigans and the death of Captain Kirk. (What’s that you say? I said I’d avoid spoilers and then go right ahead and tell you that Kirk dies? Look, you know he’s alive at the end of the book. Give me a break.) 

As I said, that’s a pretty nice cover. Let’s see the original cover.

 

Not quite as interesting. It also has a few problems. As this came out in the wake of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it shows the crew in the new movie uniforms and the movie version of the ship. (Note that the reissue has Spock in a TV series uniform.) This was common with the first few books in the series. Despite the story being set in the TV era, the new novels all have movie uniforms worn on the cover. I get it, that’s a Trekkie/nerd thing. But as a former Trekkie/nerd I spent a lot of time reading that book trying to figure out when it took place. 

That’s not the weird thing about the cover. That would be Sulu. On the cover he has very long hair and a mustache.

Kirk looks like he just showed up at a party wearing a pumpkin costume, not realizing that it was a formal dinner party. 

In the novel, Sulu had been letting his hair grow for six weeks, That looks like a lot more than 6 weeks growth to me, and I should know, having just gone about 16 weeks without a haircut.

Sulu’s hair growth is not something you would know until you read the book, so seeing him on the cover that way made no sense to me, back in 1981. I still clearly remember looking at the cover and being sure that someone had defaced it and drew on that hair and mustache with a pen. I actually tried to wipe it off.

The book is a good read and I do recommend it. But get the original cover. Not only is it funnier, a used copy can be gotten a lot cheaper than the reissue. 

 

 

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