Tag Archives: Han Solo

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.

My Review of Star Wars: Tarkin, by James Luceno

25 Jan

January 25, 2019

In Star Wars, Grand Moff Tarkin was played by Peter Cushing. He’s easily my favorite character, more villainous in the film than Darth Vader. He’s also played by one of my favorite actors, so when this book came out I went against my better judgement and read a Star Wars novel. I’m glad I did.

I give Tarkin 5 stars, but bear in mind, this 5 star rating is not the same 5 stars I give Flowers for Algernon. This is 5 stars as far as Star Wars books go, a totally different scale. Flowers for Algernon is a triumph of literature. This is a good read.

I generally dislike Star Wars novels. This one, though, breaks the mold. It is more sci-fi than fantasy, ignoring all the Jedi mumbo-jumbo nonsense that other books get bogged down in. In fact, being from the bad guy’s point of view, this has a nicely negative view of the Jedi. It reads more like the old Alan Dean Foster novels, like Splinter of the Mind’s Eye or the original Han Solo novels. It bridges the gap to the New Hope era, disposing of The Clone Wars and entering the better era of Star Wars. If  you need a movie reference point, consider this as happening just before Rogue One.

Peter Cushing

Some reviewers don’t care for the plot, which they dismiss as Tarkin and Vader chasing around some random disposable rebels. They miss the point. This book is all about the backstory. You learn a lot about Tarkin and what molded and motivates him. You also learn a bit about The Emperor and Vader too. The main plot is really just the skeleton that the meat of the backstory hangs on. This is a character study / biography of Grand Moff Tarkin, and as such it works. The novel also explores the relationship between Tarkin and Vader, and for all those who wonder why Vader would take orders from anyone besides the Emperor, let alone someone who isn’t even a force user, this book explains.

The writing is also well done. In fact, just compare it to the two excerpts of novels by other authors that follow it in the paperback edition. Not only is neither the least bit interesting or original, but their writing is clearly not as good. James Luceno may be the only Star Wars writer today worth reading.

 

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