Comic Reviews: Darth Vader and Justice League!
Star Wars: Darth Vader #1 (Marvel Comics)
Since Star Wars is back with a new volume, it only makes sense that big bad Darth Vader should get a new volume as well. The third volume in the Dark Lord of the Sith’s untold comic book story fills in the time between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, and finds Vader attempting to discover how Luke Skywalker’s existence could have been hidden from him. After some truly stunning runs from creative teams Keiron Gillen and Salvador Larocca and Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli, there’s a high bar for any new series bearing the name Darth Vader. Luckily for us, new writer Greg Pak and artist Raffaele Lenco deliver a truly great opening issue that adds new layers to not only the original trilogy, but the Prequels as well.
Reeling from the events of the Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader #1 finds the Dark Lord of the Sith uncovering the mystery of who hid the existence of his son from him, and how they pulled it off. More so than ever before, Darth Vader is on the warpath, and that brings him back to Tatooine, where he uncovers the Lars homestead, and must deal with a group of mercenaries looking to take down the Dark Lord of the Sith. But it’s when he returns to Coruscant that Vader uncovers a truly shocking revelation that will test his allegiance to the Empire and Palpatine.
Simply put, Greg Pak knocks this out of the park. Continuing the grand tradition of previous Marvel Star Wars series, Pak embraces all aspects of the franchise up to the point of the story he’s telling, and uses them to grand effect. Pak’s use of scenes from the Prequel Trilogy are fantastic, and cast a brand new light on even the most cringe-inducing scenes from Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Even more impressive is the fact that Pak’s script has no real inner monologue for Vader. Instead he uses the Sith Lord’s memories to paint a brutal and tragic backstory for one of cinema’s greatest villains.
Adding to Pak’s script is Raffaele Lenco’s artwork, which amazingly does a lot of heavy lifting with Vader, despite the fact that his face never changes due to his helmet. Through use of light and shading, Vader’s helmet seems to have its own style and sense of expression, despite never moving. It’s a true testament to Lenco’s art, and I will be very surprised if his work here doesn’t elevate him to even more high-profile projects with Marvel.
The Star Wars franchise may be on a little bit of shaky ground when it comes to the movies, but on the comic stands it hasn’t been this strong since Marvel first launched their comics. By tapping into another relatively untold section of the Star Wars canon, Greg Pak and Raffaele Lenco deliver a truly fantastic and engaging series that will thrill fans of the franchise, and stands as a must-read for all Star Wars fans.
Justice League #40 (DC Comics)
Now that Scott Snyder has left the title, it’s time for a new creative team to take Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the Justice League into a new adventure. After a lengthy run that involved “The Totality”, the Legion of Doom, and metaphysical, universe-shaking threats, I was ready for something a little more “normal” from a Justice League comic, and Robert Venditti and Doug Mahnke’s Justice League #40 definitely fits that bill.
Former Green Lantern Sodam Yat crashes to Earth with a dire warning: The Eradicator is coming, and he’s bringing with him an entire army to “cleanse” the Earth. This leads Superman and the other members of the League scrambling to prepare for war with one of the Man of Steel’s most dangerous enemies, and looking for any weaknesses that they can use against a being that’s just as powerful as Superman, but with no limits. This leads Batman to consult Madame Xanadu in hopes of her magical abilities being able to be used against Eradicator. But as Batman attempts to convince the Sorceress, the Eradicator makes his arrival on Earth, and it may already be too late to stop him.
Despite the fact that this issue doesn’t pick up on the cliffhanger ending of Scott Snyder’s run, Robert Venditti’s script does all of the thins you’d want a Justice League comic to do: sets up a world-ending threat, has the team work together to solve, and has great characterizations of the characters. While some members of the team are sidelined more than others, Venditti’s takes on all of the core members is fantastic, and the plot seems to put the team and Superman on edge, which is an interesting place to leave the characters.
Doug Mahnke is one DC’s top talents for art, and Justice League #39 is absolutely the kind of book he should be on. Mahnke is known for detailed, over the top art, and he delivers in spades with this issue, depicting the heroes as the icons they should be. I’m already a fan of his, so I’m not going to waste time gushing, but I can’t wait to see what the rest of this run looks like with him on art duties.
Justice League #39 is a more “back to basics” approach to the title, and that’s pretty much what I was hoping for when I opened it up. I wasn’t as keen on Snyder’s approach to the title, but I’m happy to see it in the hands of two capable creators that will keep the team going and fighting the good fight.
Posted on February 5, 2020, in Comic reviews and tagged Darth Vader, DC Comics, Doug Mahnke, Greg Pak, Justice League, Marvel Comics, Raffaele Lenco, Robert Venditti, Star Wars. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.