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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 2: Shadows and Secrets

Title: Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 2: Shadows and Secrets

ISBN: 9780785192565
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2016
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Collects: Star Wars: Darth Vader #7-12

Rating: 4/5

The plot this collection follows picks up right where the previous one left off. It sees Darth Vader attempting to search for Luke Skywalker while constantly under the threat of being exposed for his crimes against the Empire. This puts him and his allies in a number of intense situations; ranging from interrogating sources in the middle of a battle to blowing up an asteroid to secretly attack a spaceship. The book easily covers its bases when it comes to action.

However, these action-packed moments pale in comparison to the general tension created by the suspicions raised against Vader. At the start of the book, Vader’s team robs the Empire. From here, Vader is placed on the very team responsible for investigating this robbery. Watching him cover his tracks or purposely impede the investigation, all without raising suspicion against himself, makes for some nerve-racking entertainment. At times, the fear that Vader will be caught is so intense that the book feels like a genuine thriller.

When it comes right down to it though, the biggest highlight here, and number one reason to read this book, is Vader himself. Gillen writes Vader with a stoic sense of purpose that is absolutely terrifying. One scene sees a group of Rebels attempt to ambush him, only to later reveal that he lured them all in so he could slaughter them and use the resulting carnage to cover his tracks. In this comic, Vader is every bit the tactical and physical powerhouse that fans would expect him to be.

Though Vader effectively steals the show, this volume still does a good job in making the minor characters compelling as well. Shadows and Secrets elaborates on Aphra’s background, giving her a bit of tragedy to justify the bleak outlook she has toward the world. It also showcases her intelligence more thoroughly and makes her a bit more rounded of a character in general. In addition, Triple Zero and BT-1 are proving to be more entertaining and humorous as the series goes on. All in all, the minor characters here are quite nearly as well written as some main characters are in other comic series.

Salvador Larroca continues his work on the Darth Vader series by providing the artwork throughout this collection. Like the previous volume, his work here looks great and brings forward a cinematic quality that makes the scenes here look like they were taking straight from a movie. Many pages also feature a wonderful level of detail that adds even more life to the characters and locations. The only problem is that there are a few smaller panels where this detail is not present and characters look downright strange. However, these problems are rare and will likely go unnoticed by most readers.

Darth Vader Vol. 2: Shadows and Secrets continues the story started in Darth Vader Vol. 1: Vader (Review). Both stories take place between the movies Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope and Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back.

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