Darth Vader #25

Darth Vader #25

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Juan Gimenez

*** Warning: Major Spoilers ***

With Darth Vader #25, it all comes to an end. After this long journey, Vader’s mission is almost complete. He’s wiped out all of Cylo’s minions and he’s proven himself to the Empire, regaining his stature and respect. He has only a few loose strands left to take care of. One of them is Cylo and the other is Aphra.

The issue opens with Vader in hot pursuit of Cylo and her cybernetic whale fleet. Up until now, we have seen Vader hunt down and destroy each of Cylo’s minions. We’ve even seen Vader kill Cylo himself. However, with a host of clone backups, Cylo has proven to be a difficult foe to be rid of. Yet Gillen doesn’t hold back in this issue. It’s Vader’s time to shine. Consequently, that means Cylo and all his clones come to a quick and brutal end. I have to admit, it’s nice to see Cylo and all his minions finally eradicated. There was definitely some satisfaction there. Plus Vader even did it with some flair which was a nice touch. His line about getting to kill Cylo over and over was perfect. Larroca and Delgado come in to finish Cylo off in grand style as the panels gorge themselves in the beauty of space and the delightful kiss of the sun.

From there, the comic deals with the other big thread: Aphra. Vader returns from his hunt to speak with the Emperor, who has also been talking with Doctor Aphra. Aphra has been telling the Emperor many things, including how Vader stole assets from the Empire and funded his own private army. Yet rather than being bad, the Emperor is gleeful. His apprentice has finally stepped up his game and started playing on a grander scale than just one-on-one combat. That said, Aphra doesn’t get off so lightly with Vader. The Emperor might be happy, but Vader is ticked. So much so that he literally throws her out the airlock. Now I didn’t read this issue until after I had already heard about the new Doctor Aphra ongoing series, so I was already assuming Aphra would live. When it got to this part of the comic, even with the expectations that I had, it was very dark and emotional. The way Larroca sets up the panels, the fear and anguish he captures with Aphra, and the cold, callous nature of Vader, it’s the proverbial knife to the gut. You can’t help but feel Aphra’s pain. And with that, with Aphra’s body floating in space, left to die, the story marches on.

One thread I had forgot about was Tagge. When this series kicked off, we saw Vader being demoted and Tagge seizing control. He was making Vader’s life a living hell. With Vader now in the Emperor’s good graces–and let’s face it, he’s on a roll with all the dead Cylo’s and Aphra floating out in space–he’s given a bonus prize. Like giving a puppy a treat, Palpatine tosses Tagge over to Vader to do with as he pleases. Now rather than just killing Tagge off, Gillen uses this moment to tie-in to The Empire Strikes Back. While Vader is strangling Tagge, good old Admiral Ozzel is standing by to witness the whole nightmarish scene. It’s a lesson Ozzel will fail to take to heart, but it’s a nice way to set the stage.

Afterwards, Vader stares out the viewport into the void of space. Here the story takes an interesting turn by showing some red hazed panels of Vader reaching out to Luke with one simple word, “Soon.” It’s a nice way to end the series and builds upon his actions in The Empire Strikes Back. Since this comic is canon, we now know that Vader was planning on allying with his son before the events of Episode V.

Regardless, the issue doesn’t end there. While that might be the end of the Vader story, the comic goes on to show Aphra’s fate. Yeah, even though she was shot out of an airlock, she’s not dead. After all, we are getting that ongoing Aphra series. And while it’s a bit of a stretch, the artists do make the effort of making Aphra look like she’s been through hell. It’s a nice way to cap off her arc in the Vader series and I’m thankful that she survived. She’s been a fun character to follow and it will be interesting to see where they go with her next.

But things don’t stop there. This oversized issue keeps going to give fans a third story. However, it’s also the most puzzling and intriguing of the three. It goes all the way back to when Vader went to Tatooine and wiped out that tribe of Tusken Raiders just to kill time. It so happens that one of the Tuskens lived. The lone survivor eventually ran into another group of Tusken Raiders led by a very interesting shaman. The survivor shows the Shaman what happened. The shaman calls for a gathering and appears to manipulate a fire into imagery, thus showing everyone Vader’s heinous deeds. They then gather all the dead and the remains of the ruined huts and build them into a giant effigy of Darth Vader, which they then burn. I’m not sure what this means or where Gillen is going with it. With the Darth Vader series at an end, this seems like a story thought that doesn’t have anywhere to go. But it’s an intriguing story point, and it’s a story that begs to be told.

The other point of interest with the Tusken Raider story is that it’s told entirely through imagery. There is no dialog and no narration. Gillen is credited as the writer, and as such, he would have blocked out the story and described what the scenes should contain and convey. Nevertheless, it was up to Max Fiumara and Dave Stewart to pull it off, and they did so with flying colors. The Tuskens look great, the imagery is provocative, and without any words, it was easy to follow along and understand what was going on. Of course, by not using words, Gillen made the story that much more mysterious.

With no less than three stories all combined into this last issue of the Darth Vader series, Darth Vader #25 goes out with a bang. All of the stories are wrapped up nicely, and while it brings some things to a end, it’s also the start of new beginnings. Aphra lives and she’ll be returning. And who knows, maybe we’ll get some more of this Tusken Raider story. Regardless, it’s a satisfying conclusion for the series and I give it a five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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