Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Adam Gorham
Colorist: Federico Blee
Cover Artists: Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Darth Vader has a new servant in Sabe, former handmaiden to Padme Amidala, the dead wife of Anakin Skywalker. After assisting Vader in quelling the rebellion of Jul Tambor, it appeared that things would be calm for a while. But now a new danger emerges that forces the Sith Lord to confront his inner turmoil in Star Wars: Darth Vader #33.
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To be honest, I was hoping for something else in this new story arc. If I had to summarize my feelings for the past Sabe story arcs, I would say I’m like Ochi, I thought this storyline would end sooner. The story for this comic goes that a “Force Wave” (that’s literally what it’s called) has manifested out of the blue and is causing all of the nearby Force users’ powers to become unstable. We see this in the Umbaran Sub-Administrator’s reaction to it, and even Emperor Palpatine’s reaction to it. And what this comic largely focuses on is Darth Vader’s reaction to it and how this instability forces him to tackle things within himself that he would clearly leave buried. But of course, where Vader goes these days, Sabe is sure to follow and he’s making sure that he’s not the only one getting a character journey here.
The art change from Ibraim to Adam Gorham is ver noticeable and while Gorham isn’t bad at all, it’s not a better replacement. It just feels like Gorham’s art feels a little too plain with simpler designs and details to it in comparison to Ibraim’s art which had more energy to it and lent itself to more cool and dynamic visual storytelling. Gorham’s art does that too with Vader and all of the action in the comic, though the facial expressions on most of the characters feel a little underworked.
Then there’s the matter of the story’s main theme of Vader not learning from his past mistakes as voiced by Emperor Palpatine in the first half of the comic. The Dark Lord of the Sith points out that Vader needs to finally learn to accept who and what he is and close the book on Padme. He must decide whether he will embrace power in the Dark Side or invite more suffering by having Sabe around. The problem that brings this story down for this reviewer at least is that this theme is repetitive. We literally had this same theme on repeat all throughout the past two story arcs with Sabe that equal close to a dozen or so issues. It’s getting old at this point and I don’t think Greg Pak realized that while writing this comic.
Greg Pak has clearly been going for an emotionally engaging storyline with Darth Vader and Sabe, who represents a version of Padme to him. At first this story was intriguing as past Darth Vader writers have explored the remnants of the Clone Wars era, as we saw in the past story arc with the other Handmaidens. The problem is it seems like this has dragged on for far too long. It just feels like Greg Pak needs to move things along to something else and this issue just seems to be more of the same as Vader forces Sabe to finally choose who she will be in his service.
Not to mention this random “Force Wave” adds nothing to the story whatsoever. It just comes off as a cheap mcguffin to force things to play out the way they do in the comic when anything else could suffice. Like a sudden attack by aggressive and brazen rebels or one of the many enemies of the Empire choosing to strike at Vader to show the Emperor that no one’s untouchable, the list goes on. Now, I consider myself a hardcore Star Wars fan, but even I’ll admit I don’t know everything in the franchise about the Force. So, if this Force Wave phenomenon already existed, please let me know in the comments.
Star Wars: Darth Vader #33 picks up where the last issue left off with Darth Vader feeling an incredible disturbance in the Force that causes his power to go berserk. The addition of this “Force Wave” feels weak and out of nowhere to provide an incredibly convenient excuse for why events play out in the comic when anything else could suffice. Not to mention it feels like the comic’s story and themes are a little too repetitive of the themes from the past story arcs with Vader and Sabe. Hopefully this story arc isn’t that long and brings some conclusion to this Handmaiden storyline so the series can move on to more exciting stories with Darth Vader.