Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Color Artist: Alex Sinclair
Cover Artists: Aaron Kuder & Richard Isanove
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The galaxy is in the middle of violent change. On top of the galactic civil war, the criminal underworld is being altered after the events of the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover event. During this event, Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire discovered a new enemy in the resurgent Crimson Dawn crime syndicate. In Star Wars: Darth Vader #18, Vader begins his hunt for the criminals.
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One thing Greg Pak manages to capitalize on in this series is working in elements from other recent Star Wars events and stories into the Vader series. He did with the Rise of Skywalker, and now he’s doing it with the recent War of the Bounty Hunters event. Hopefully he gets plenty out of this storyline than the main event did, since the Crimson Dawn made the dangerous gamble of exposing themselves to the galaxy, and to Darth Vader.
Another thing Pak communicates well is showing Darth Vader’s inner desires for toppling Darth Sidious, aka Emperor Palpatine. It’s something that Star Wars fans only get a hint of in the movies and now this series shows Vader has betrayal on his mind, highlighting his drive for order, control, and structure in the face of the chaos his master causes or allows. Which makes hunting Crimson Dawn even more than another task for him, it’s his ideological conquest of lawless chaos in the galaxy.
What makes this story different from the others is the approach Darth Vader and his ally the Sith Assassin Ochi are taking with dismantling Crimsons Dawn. Instead of enlisting the usual rank and file Imperial troops, Vader’s rallying the same fringe criminal elements who have deadly skills and a lethal axe to grind against the group. The comic has two major instances of this, introducing readers to new alien cast members, highlighting Vader’s plan for them while also keeping you guessing if there’s more to his plan for these new fighters to take down Crimson Dawn.
Of course, there is an argument to be made that Darth Vader should be using Imperial military intelligence forces made specifically for dealing with threats like Crimson Dawn. The Empire has these resources, but a good counter-argument is that because the Empire has been infiltrated, Vader has to go outside the usual rank and file to get fighters to face Crimson Dawn.
Star Wars: Darth Vader #18 starts Vader’s hunt for Crimson Dawn, and things take a more unconventional approach. We get to see more of Vader’s motives for why his fight against Crimson Dawn is more than just fulfilling his imperial duties. The comic introduces some new characters, has some solid action, and begins the next storyline for Darth Vader.