Darth Vader #24

Darth Vader #24 (of 25)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado

Darth Vader #24 is the big lead up to the finale. In the previous issue, Cylo turned off Vader’s suit, leaving him for dead. We all know Vader can’t die, not yet, but what is Padme doing on the cover? What surprises are we in for? In Darth Vader #24, they take us back in time and plunging forward. They plumb the unknowns with some nightmarish what if’s, and bring forth a Vader primed for the endgame. Alas, it does miss a few punches along the way. Fair warning, I’ll be diving into full spoilers for this one.

The issue opens with a bold, full panel shot of Cylo standing over a motionless, helpless Vader. Larroca pushes that dramatic shot with the next page, once again showing Cylo’s hand resting on Vader’s helmet, but this time using subset panels to focus in on Vader’s eye as they slowing slip us into Vader’s mind. Inside, the Dark Lord is anything but dead. Raging in his hatred, he relives alternate versions of his past. He see’s Obi-Wan again on the shores of Mustafar, yet this time Obi-Wan does not spare him. Reborn in the fiery lava, Vader emerges in full armor, dripping in magma, a sight that is pretty awesome to behold. Gillen and Delgado really capture the epicness of that panel with the bright, glowing lava and Vader’s stoic pose. Then Vader cuts down Obi-Wan in an interesting mish-mash of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. From there, the fully armored Vader goes on to confront the Jedi Anakin. Showing no mercy, he chops himself up just as Obi-Wan did and leaves himself to burn in the heat of Mustafar’s fiery rivers. But there’s one more flashback that pushes Vader’s internal struggle. He confronts Padme who tries to seduce him from his path.

The imagery of the flashbacks is interesting, and well done, but the storytelling implications is what’s intriguing. Gillen doesn’t spell it out, yet there are hints. Vader fights the ghosts of his past: Obi-Wan, Padme and his Jedi self. These are the people who pose the biggest threat to his commitment to the dark side. In his nightmares, he straight up kills Obi-Wan and himself. Padme is choked, possibly by Vader, though it isn’t clear. However the dream ends with him breaking his imagined chains and declaring Anakin dead. The question is how much is implied by all this? Is this the moment Vader fully kills Anakin? Is this merely Vader reliving the mental trauma he’s already subjected himself to? It’s not clear, however Gillen does use it as a hand waving moment to magically reactivate Vader’s suit, allowing him to kill Cylo-V.

When you dive into the dream sequences, it actually makes the issue seem better than it is. But when reading through it, I was a little disappointed. First there’s the small matter of how the whole dream sequence somehow explains how Vader reactivates his suit. Then there’s the matter that Cylo’s death only means he lost his current body as he’s magically resurrected in another clone body like the old Legends lore about the Emperor and his clones. I was kind of ready for Cylo to be dead. Stretching this on into the next issue doesn’t leave as much room for the main confrontation, the face off between Aphra and Vader. Yet perhaps the final straw was when Aphra addressed Palpatine as “Your Emperor Highness Master Sir!” That was pretty corny and threw me out of the moment. Those little issues dragged the whole story down. Rather than leaving me amped for the finale, I’m now worried. Can Gillen pull this off? Will there be enough room to wrap it all up in just one last issue? At the end of Darth Vader #23, I would have confidently said yes, but this one shook my resolve. While there was some interesting choices made, I’m not sure that they worked.

Artwise, Darth Vader #24 is pretty solid. The story does some bold things, but it’s a little jarring and not completely clear. Hopefully the next issue can fix that and bring this all together for one epic finale. However, for this issue, I give it a three out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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