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Star Wars: Darth Vader – Black, White, & Red #2 Review

4 min read

Two more tales of the darkest lord of the Sith.

Creative Staff:
Story: Jason Aaron / David Pepose / Victoria Ying
Art: Leonard Kirk / Alessandro Vitti /Marika Cresta
Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

What They Say:
JASON AARON CONTINUES HIS RETURN TO THE GREATEST VILLAIN IN THE GALAXY! Along with artist LEONARD KIRK, these two titans of comics tell a tale of horror and intrigue! PLUS, David Pepose makes his STAR WARS debut!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The opening story for this book is the ongoing one that brings Jason Aaron back to the property and character. Paired with Leonard Kirk and Romulo Fajardo Jr., the tale feels like the late 70s and early 80s Star Wars comics from Marvel in a great way. With Vader now captured by Cyn, we learn how he’s been working toward this for years, revealing how his father rebuilt a lot of him like what he made in the perfection of Vader. But that just made Cyn want to destroy his father’s work and found the flaw that allowed him to control Vader’s body. Foolishly, he wants to gloat and keeps his brain working so he can feel everything as they cut him up. Of course, Vader is able to manipulate the Force without movement and we watch that unfold in cold and dark ways as so many of the staff that Cyn had working for him begin to die, with Vader setting up how he’ll be hunting down Cyn next. It’s brutal and totally how you’d expect Vader to react in all of this.

The second tale is a standalone from writer David Pepose working with Alessandro Vitti on the artwork and it’s a pretty strong look with the character designs that gives it some real intensity and sense of power and fear for the Stormtroopers. This one is a fun riff on Aliens to some degree as Vader and his entourage board a research ship from a rogue Imperial scientist that has basically created a new hybrid species where she’s their queen. They’re tough creatures to be sure and capture all including Vader, but they keep them alive in order to enlarge the hivemind, of which they want Vader in particular. It’s a familiar work as it unfolds but fun to watch in seeing Vader deal with something more organic and with an intelligence like this where the scientist is trying to convince Vader that she did it for him to give him peace. Of course, that’s not something Vader seeks to it’s doomed to fail, but it has a grim tone about all of it.

The other standalone tale here is from writer Victoria Ying and artist Marika Cresta, who has done other Star Wars books before. This story is less about Vader but culminates by highlighting the influence and impact he has by his existence when looking at an outer rim world. We mostly follow a simple bullying story of a kid who has to deal with some standard punks who ruin his way of making money and go so far as to try and burn down where he and his mother live. He makes it clear that it’s power that is what’s important in the galaxy and it takes a pretty dark and chaotic turn when Vader and a lot of trigger-happy Stormtroopers show up looking for a fugitive and that it seems to be the resident punk. Our bullied character is panicked to be sure but you saw the awe and admiration when Vader takes him away and exudes nothing but power and intimidation. It’s how a simple mind is turned quickly and easily.

In Summary:
Anthology books are always going to be pretty variable but the draw is in the character and/or concept and seeing how it can be reworked. Vader has had a lot of stories over the decades and there’s plenty of hit or miss to be sure. The main story is one that continues to unfold pretty well as it looks into the legacy of what built Vader and what comes from it. Pepose’s story is pretty solid if familiar while Ying’s story is the weakest for me but had the most potential to explore by showing the way Vader and power can inspire people to dark places. It just didn’t hit what it needed to with the original characters for it to engage, especially as Vader’s presence was so minimal. Still, a solid installment overall with this issue and has me looking forward to more standalone pieces and more of Jason Aaron’s storyline.

Grade: B

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics
Release Date: May 24th, 2023
MSRP: $4.99

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