Star Wars comics are always a little bit better with Darth Vader, and if the Sith Lord brandishes his lightsaber, as he does in “Star Wars” #4 by Brian Wood and Carlos D’Anda, those comic books are just that much more entertaining. The lightsaber is used to remind the crew of the Death Star that Vader is in charge and, as has become the way with the Sith, ruling through fear is most effective.
Getting a little stir crazy in his assignment of babysitting the construction of the second Death Star in the orbit of Endor, Vader’s actions are not too far afield for the character and it also serves as a viable option to the Force choke that Vader could just as easily administer. The saber, perhaps, speaks more to the mounting frustration and the need to lash out as that scene is followed up by a moment of reflection from the Sith Lord in his meditation chamber. Wood’s choice of actions and reflection from Vader, combined with the voices he chooses to listen to and the focus he dials in on make the villain sympathetically believable.
The other characters throughout the issue are lively and driven. Han and Chewbacca are pursued through the depths of Coruscant, giving Chewie a chance to cut loose, seize the spotlight and impress readers, certainly refreshing his place in their hearts while doing so. Luke is mopey and introspective. Leia is bossy, but submerged in her quest to find a new home for the Rebellion while ferreting out the traitor. Even, C-3PO and R2-D2 show up, albeit just for a splash page appearance, but that scene is filled with their trademark bickering, adding even more support to Wood’s work.
Wood builds the galaxy a bit around all of this, adding Force sensitivity to Prithi, the other grounded X-Wing pilot from Leia’s hand-picked squadron, who shares a moment with Luke. This raises some questions and produces a subplot certain to be mined as this series progresses. Wood continues to populate the Rebel Alliance with all manner of recruit, showcasing a Mon Calamari bridge officer in this officer while Mon Mothma gets some more paneltime. “Star Wars” #4 has a lot to offer readers.
Among those offerings are the stylistic interpretations from Carlos D’Anda. This issue seems to be tailored to showcase D’Anda’s ability to revitalize and energize the designs from that galaxy far, far away as Wood has written a wide array of subject matter into this issue. Once again, we have X-Wings in flight, pilots jabbering between one another, Vader and his lightsaber and Chewie squeezing some shots off his bowcaster. D’Anda delivers every piece of that with keen detail and a cartoon-flavored influence. His style helps keep the characters lively and definitely works with Wood’s storytelling.
Excitement, adventure — a Jedi craves not these things. I think it’s safe to say most of the readers who are picking up “Star Wars” #4 are not Jedi, and therefore do crave excitement and adventure, which this comic delivers in plenty. Four issues in and this series has not provided a letdown moment yet, giving readers every reason to believe that the Force is strong with Brian Wood and his creative collaborators.