DARTH VADER #18 written by Charles Soule, layouts by Giuseppe Camuncoli, finishes by Daniele Orlandini, colors by David Curiel, and letters by Joe Caramagna hits shelves this week as Soule gives us a glimpse of the greatest game of all.
Readers will leave this issue with a new respect for Tarkin and a more profound fear of Darth Vader. How could you be more afraid of this Sith Lord? Let’s find out!
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!!
DARTH VADER #18 SPOILERS TOO!!
Let the Hunt Begin
This issue is easy to summarize. If you recall from the past story arc, Tarkin owed a debt to Darth Vader, and it was time for him to collect. Readers find out that Vader wants Tarkin to try to kill him. Why? No one is left in the galaxy who can even come close to standing in Lord Vader’s way. It also turns out, Darth Vader did some research on Tarkin and learned of his past. Tarkin was a skilled hunter in his youth. So, the deal was struck.
Tarkin began the hunt with 20 men, and gradually Vader picked them off. However, Soule did a fantastic job dueling out respect for Governor Tarkin. The schemes he created to hurt, distract, provoke, and cripple the Sith Lord were impressive. Readers can see the time, preparation, and thought Soule put into concocting ways to take down the galaxies worst and most ruthless of all villains. After the second reading, it became easy to see that Soule viewed himself as Tarkin. What writer wouldn’t do that?
Now, as much as Soule should be commended for his creativity, ingenuity, and masterful storytelling; the art team of Camuncoli, Orlandini, and Curiel also need to be applauded for their fantastic work. It was gorgeous. The detail in Darth Vader’s suit, from his torn armor to the Valath skin thrown over his back, helped elevate Vader to a new level of fear.
At the bottom of page 7, Curiel’s colors make the sunrise genuinely appear bright and real. It almost hurts my eyes to look at it. Next, look at the bottom of page 10. Vader’s helmet looks shiny, tangible, and real. The detail in his eyes watching the flames of his destruction are so impressive. Fantastic job to everyone who worked on this issue.
Here is an excellent overview of all the ridiculously epic ways Tarkin attempted to take Vader down to a draw. Instead of using blasters, Tarkin’s team uses flamethrowers. Great idea Soule AND great counter! Vader uses the force to destroy the actual throwers.
Next, Tarkin sacrifices a half dozen troops to get Darth Vader’s lightsaber. Another fantastic idea. But Soule shines through with his reasoning as to why he needs to take his trusted weapon. Soule describes it as the only thing Vader loves. In every meeting with Palpatine, he’s always touching it like an itch or even an addiction.
Tarkin sent men to die merely to see the range of the force. That’s cold, but it’s smart. What put this issue over the top was Soule‘s outstanding inner monologue for Tarkin. Every step he took and every reason for action was stated and explained so well. Tarkin uses a race of aliens with sensitive hearing abilities to track the noise Vader’s suit makes when he breathes. Again, the smallest detail in planning made this one of Soule‘s best issues of this series, if not his writing overall.
The last amazing twist was seeing Tarkin give up in the lightning storm. Soule lets the reader think that all is lost. However, we see the clever planning of Governor Tarkin win out in the end. He picked the planet, and he set up an angry Vader to end in this very spot, which happened to conduct massive amounts of lightning. The Sith Lord gets fried! It appears Tarkin wins until the end when a practically lifeless Vader uses the force to choke out Tarkin.
One Small Problem
My only problem with the issue was when Tarkin set up camp. His troops just fought Vader in what appeared to be minutes before. Why stop now? He’s right behind you. Maybe a time stamp next time? Show the reader that his crew was running for some time and they feel Vader is far enough away to rest.
Soule’s Best Work Yet
This issue must have been so much fun to write. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ve probably had this very conversation: how would you defeat Darth Vader? What would you do? I imagine Soule sitting around with his friends having coffee and talking over strategies for killing Vader. Call me next time! I left with so much admiration for Tarkin as a character and so much more respect for Soule as a writer. My final thought to think about: would Darth Vader have killed Governor Tarkin if the ending was flipped?
Should you get this issue?
Yes. This issue stands on its own. Readers technically don’t need any information before this issue to read it, AND it’s a great spot to jump on the book and hook you in. The overall idea of the story has been done before BUT not with Darth Vader. However, Soule‘s creativity shines through in “how” Tarkin deploys his tactics and what he does in his attempt to kill one of the greatest villains of all time. If that doesn’t sell you, then pick the issue up for its fantastic artistic display of Vader in action. If you love Star Wars, you will love this issue.
Should you add this to your pull list?
If you read my review and this issue, you already know the answer to that question. 100 times Yes!
What did you guys think of DARTH VADER #18? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter @dispatchdcu