With the Darth Vader comic ending, creator Kieron Gillen focus will now shift to the space archeologist Doctor Aphra.
[NOTE: Possible plot spoilers for the Darth Vader comic. You have been warned.] Darth Vader has always been a fan favorite character. The legend of one of the most powerful beings in the universe began the moment he set foot on Leia’s ship back in 1977. Although many feared him, and we saw an occasional neck snap every now and then, the extent of his power was revealed much later, in the prequel trilogy, through the story of midichlorians and the prophecy of bringing balance to the force. For someone so powerful, Lucasfilm didn’t actually do all that well in presenting his might to us, which is something that the extended universe never fails to do.
The Darth Vader Comic Series
Although there were many books and comics about him, the recently ended Darth Vader comic series has already found its place in the legend and will surely be remembered for years to come. The series, created by Kieron Gillen (Phonogram, The Wicked + The Divine) and Salvador Larroca (Fantastic Four, X-Treme X-Men), did exactly what was needed to cement Vader’s position as one of the most powerful Sith Lords in the history of the Star Wars universe.
The Power of Vader
It is understandable that technology was far less developed in the late 70s and that the scenes in which Vader brings down entire ships from mid-air using the force would be difficult and expensive to make, and that’s where the comic book medium comes in. One or two pages is more than enough to show his ability to wreak havoc, but even that is not what’s greatest about Gillen’s creative ingenuity; the comic’s story arcs excel at simple things that could easily be put into movies, but haven’t been for some reason. An example of that is the battle against Cylo, who turns off Vader’s electronics and machinery and leaves Vader in the same physical condition as Obi Wan let him a few years earlier. With Vader being able to overcome this and easily dispatch of his foe, we are shown exactly how powerful the dark side is in such a way that you are sure to get goosebumps reading it.
What Gillen managed to do during his 25 chapter run was show Vader both as an immensely powerful killing machine, and as a human being, while still managing to keep all his malice intact, even in times where we’re supposed to feel compassion. This all resulted in a rather complex psychological portrait of the villain who kind of makes us feel bad for wanting him to hurt others.
Another great addition to the universe was the variety of new characters added. Numerous people were introduced to the mythology, friend and foe alike, but none excelled as much as Doctor Aphra. This supporting character had a major role in fulfilling Vader’s plans, while her own agenda was simple – survival while working for a merciless Sith lord, who may or may not, at any point in time, throw her through an airlock, and spoiler alert, he did. Whether she was helping him find out more about Luke, or helping him steal a secret Imperial credits stash, her presence was always strongly felt throughout the entire run.
Problems with the Darth Vader Comic
However, even though Comic Book Roundup gives the series a high 7.9/10 average score, there are certain aspects that can bother the readers, and one of the biggest one is the lack of tension. Due to chronological boundaries, every time Vader (or anyone from the movie universe for that matter), gets stuck in a seemingly inescapable situation, the readers already know that nothing will actually happen to the character. Sure, Leia points her gun at Vader and it’s all fun and exciting, but ultimately it doesn’t bring much to the story since we know that nothing will happen to either of them.
Similarly, in the final chapter, when Doctor Aphra reveals everything that Vader’s done in the previous 25 chapters, the Emperor actually commends him and everything goes back to the regular status quo that we know and love, leaving the readers with a question “Why did Vader even hide what he was doing if this was going to be the Emperor’s reaction?”
The Upcoming Doctor Aphra Comic
Anyhow, when Marvel decided that the comic book would end at chapter 25, the decision left many wondering what was going on, since Gillen was obviously interested in writing more, and more importantly, the sales were great. It was then revealed that it would be replaced by a new, unknown Star Wars comic, which actually turned out to be Doctor Aphra’s individual series. This new series is also written by Gillen, but will feature art by Kev Walker, famous for his work for 2000 AD.
Although Marvel’s move to give Aphra her own series might seem like a bold one, there is a high chance that it will pay off as she has constantly been praised as a character by critics and readers alike. But what are her major strong points? What is it that separates her from any other similar character that the expanded universe has already had?
Reasons To Look Forward to the Doctor Aphra Comic
For starters, she has never appeared before, nor was she mentioned. Since she is a part of the new official canon, this means she might even appear in the movies as an old woman, or her actions in the book might send a ripple across the universe for future generations. Every time when Aphra is in danger, her future is unknown, which will have you breathe a huge sigh of relief when she is safe, or even cry if she is hurt. Even if a single Easter egg about her shows up in any of the movies, she will have achieved more than thousands of other characters from the 80s and 90s extended universe that are now completely forgotten.
Whether you’re into sci-fi or not, there’s no way you haven’t heard of Darth Vader; he’s become a household name. Intimidating, cold-hearted, conniving and with a nightmarish voice to boot — he’s the embodiment of evil, and everyone knows it. Considering Vader’s image, it’s no surprise that his upcoming reappearance in Rogue One is so highly anticipated. But aside from seeing a familiar face(or mask, in this case), it’s also [Click here to read more…]
Another amazing thing is that she’s a “real person.” What that actually means is that she is not just another generic padawan who’s going to be tempted by the dark side, nor another sith acolyte to feel bad for committing evil deeds. She’s like many other average Joe characters who are just trying to survive in a ruthless universe, which surely brings her much closer to the forceless audience. Characters such as Han Solo, Boba Fett, and Lando have always had huge fan bases, often bigger ones than those of Jedi and Sith.
The third greatest thing about her is definitely her supporting cast, though she is basically a Han Solo mirror image. She is a cunning, often cheeky mercenary, accompanied by two droids (that in this case are murderers, torturers, and assassins) and a Wookie that has a cute nickname. And even though they are very similar to things that we’ve already seen, they are different enough to be established as new characters, and that’s what matters. I mean, who wouldn’t want to read about a C-3PO inspired psychopath? Not to mention that at some point in the future of the series, she will likely cross paths with Vader again, a sure to be awkward reunion as he does not know she survived.
Now, Marvel has two roads ahead. On one, the run will be a failure and the character will soon be forgotten, and on the second, they will create a character who will inspire many novels, comic books, animated features, or anything similar, for years to come. Everything depends on how seriously they approach the series, and if they let Gillen do at least a half of what he did with Vader, we as fans have absolutely nothing to worry about. The Darth Vader comic is over; long life to Doctor Aphra!
The Doctor Aphra comic debuts in a little more than two weeks, on December 7, 2016!
Featured Image: Darth Vader cover art / Disney, Marvel Comics