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Star Wars: Darth Vader #40 Review

4 min read
The action aspect of this installment is the big draw for me here with what does because Ienco really delivers when he gets to show Vader in action

“The Master’s Trial”

Creative Staff:
Story: Greg Pak
Art: Raffael Ienco
Colors: Federico Blee
Letterer: VCs Joe Caramagna

What They Say:
SCOURGE OF CORUSCANT! – A DARK DROIDS TIE-IN! What greater prize could the DROID SCOURGE imagine than CORUSCANT, an ecumenopolis filled with millions of droids? And what greater TERROR could the people of Coruscant imagine than a horde of scourged droids… …led by LORD VADER himself?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The recent storyline is one that certainly makes a lot of sense to be happening amid other events between films and but it’s also feeling like it’s eating itself with all the characters involved. Greg Pak is doing what it needs to in working on Vader himself with a lot of it and hanging out with a lot of droids. Unfortunately, as expected, the series is taking its swing through the Dark Droids storyline which is leaving me feeling very wary of it. With this issue, Raffael Ienco returns to the book after some time away and I couldn’t be happier as their take on Vader definitely delivers for me. His art style works well in carrying the tone and style so that it feels like a part of the big picture. Federico Blee handles the color design for their work here and that helps to bridge things together as well while also having some nicely stylish moments.

Though I’ve had some decent luck with where the story has gone over in the main book and Doctor Aphra, events here continue to feel like they’re being bolted onto the Dark Droids story in a bad way. The central piece to things is that Palpatine is basically proving to Vader that he’ll never succeed because he feeds on Vader’s hate. And with Vader having overcome things and regained his control over the Force through hate, it just feeds Palpatine even more. The whole master/apprentice thing works for a while but we’re at the fraying ends of a twenty-year relationship here and it’s just not working. But the execution of it not working now has Palpatine into this position where everything is a part of the test and there are so many things he’s throwing against Vader that it detracts from the big picture of events going on. It is, quite simply, too much. This period between films is fertile ground to be sure but it’s now so loaded with problematic things that it doesn’t segue well into what’s to come.

Vader’s return to Coruscant comes as the capital is putting in significant controls to deal with the droid virus since this planet has the most droids of any in the galaxy. Vader, of course, has the virus on board the ship and that makes for a lot of action as they get underway and Palpatine throws a lot of stormtroopers and death troopers at Vader in order to prove his own point. We also see once again that Palpatine will go a long way to keeping order by destroying entire blocks around the main buildings that start falling to the droid virus. Of course, he orchestrated the whole Death Star thing so this seems like a small thing, but it helps to reinforce the way those on Coruscant will be even more upset about what life is like under the Empire. Naturally, everything has to come back to the droid virus thing with the Scourage finally being brought into Vader’s body and that’ll give us another issue of it being quite dangerous.

In Summary:
There’s a lot going on in this book when it comes to the dynamic between Vader and Palpatine and it’s something that works but in a limited way. We’ve seen it play out much earlier in their relationship in one of the other Vader books but it just feels a bit exhausting at this point – and knowing what it’s going into with Return of the Jedi. I’ve long enjoyed the kind of friction that exists between the two and with Palpatine managing his apprentice, but the execution just doesn’t click here. And adding in the drama of the droid virus and it’s all just a bit much. There are fun moments throughout it and the artwork is solid, but this entire crossover event is still rubbing me the wrong way.

Grade: B-

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics
Release Date: November 8th, 2023
MSRP: $4.99