Writer: Greg Pak
Art: Raffaele Ienco and Alex Sinclair
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: February 9th, 2022
Vader and his team of assassins target the Crimson Dawn syndicate! Padme Amidala’s handmaiden Sobe targets Vader! And no one is safe as these two forces cut a swath through several worlds in Darth Vader #20, inexorably moving closer to a final stand-off.
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Set between “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Return of the Jedi”, Darth Vader #20 moves along at a breakneck pace, jumping between various subplots, primarily Sobe’s reprogramming of Vader’s droid Zed-67 to work for her, and Vader and his team taking out various traitors within the Imperial network.
Vader is at the height of his powers here, and his brutality. If you thought the ending of “Rogue One” made Vader look like a terrifying engine of destruction, wait until you read this issue. Any restraint Vader had in the past is missing here. I’ve rarely seen Vader so vicious with his lightsaber, he makes Jason Voorhees look like Pee-Wee Herman.
The only thing I have a problem with is Vader’s team of assassins. Vader should have a team of Sith acolytes, akin to the Knights of Ren. Instead, he’s got a lot of beings who are all about brute force, blasting and blowing up everything with no finesse. It seems out of character for Vader to have this gang of roughies as his hit squad. The assassin droid G-90 seems especially out of place, a huge spherical droid the size of a small car and loaded with weaponry, it’s about as subtle as a nuclear missile, and almost comical.
Sobe, who is gunning for Vader, is an interesting character, dainty in the prequel films, but much more hardened here. She doesn’t have the firepower and resources Vader has, so she relies on stealth and sabotage.
By the end of the issue, she may have picked up a couple more unwilling allies.
It’s interesting to watch this story play out, because we know Vader is alive for “The Return of the Jedi”, but the story still keeps you guessing as to what will happen next.
Raffaele Ienco excels at drawing the multitude of aliens that pop up in Darth Vader #20, but even his art can’t make that awful assassin droid G-90 look threatening.
The kill scenes are sufficiently brutal and The Emperor looks like a dead ringer for Ian Mcdiarmid. The proportions between vessels and beings give a correct sense of scale, and I hope they continue to keep this artist for the foreseeable future.
Darth Vader #20 continues the Crimson Reign storyline in grand fashion, showing Vader in action outside of the handful of films we saw him in. It’s a fun story and issue that’s a reminder of how great a villain Darth Vader can be when written correctly.