Operating on his own agenda, Darth Vader collected a band of misfits that takes center stage in Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca’s “Darth Vader” #5. Vader’s torture-protocol droid, Triple-Zero, has provided Vader with a lead on a band being groomed to replace Vader thanks to the information the droid extracted from Cylo-IV, an agent of Palpatine.
In addition to Triple-Zero, Gillen has added Doctor Aphra as a sidekick/girl Friday and a blastomech droid named BT to round the Sith Lord’s entourage. Aphra provides some humor and humanity, but even she knows she’s on borrowed time while working for Vader. While the expanded cast liberates Gillen from overburdening Vader, it also teeters on the edge of overshadowing the titular fallen Jedi. The writer gives Vader some key moments throughout the issue, more often than not while wielding a lightsaber.
Colorist Edgar Delgado is as crucial to the success of the visuals as artist Salvador Larroca. As coloring technology is at a point where lightsabers can glow on a printed page, Delgado uses the energy blades to great effect and always highlights ignited sabers quite nicely. Larroca keeps Vader fluid and menacing throughout the issue, providing some captivating and dynamic drawings along the way, such as when Vader leaps towards the reader, who is viewing the approach through a worm’s eye. The artist is technically sound in his rendering of Vader’s helmet and uniform, and he brings the most clinically precise protocol droid this edition of Marvel Comics’ “Star Wars” has showcased yet. Gillen doesn’t hesitate to open the galaxy up for Larroca, who is given a chance to draw a modified droid army, a Mon Calamari and a Trandoshan, all of which Larroca handles nicely. Palpatine makes a menacing appearance before the issue closes out, but the final page leaves a little to be desired, as Larroca’s foreshortening leans towards too much, too soon. Overall, however, “Darth Vader” #5 maintains the visual integrity this series has established.
Adi Granov’s cover for “Darth Vader” #5 has the Sith Lord glaring at the reader, as a green lightsaber crosses a yellow one between the reader and Vader. In my memory, this is the first we’ve seen a yellow lightsaber in Marvel Comics. The original Luke Skywalker action figure came with a yellow saber, so that hit a nostalgic note for me, which is exactly what Gillen and Larroca do for readers and “Star Wars” fans throughout “Darth Vader” #5. Every issue of the series has given readers adventure and excitement, and this is no different.