Review: Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #5

With the last issue I felt like my ass was left hanging out in the wind. The issue itself fit in nicely with the overall story, but it felt like a rope bridge tying the series together. This issue, which is the final in the series, delivers powerful storytelling that I have come to expect from it. Now with this being the last issue there is of course the expectation that you’ve read the rest of the series, but Tim Siedell’s writing is so powerful that it reads like a one-shot. This series has been about two characters of course; there’s Hock and Vader. Some might argue that the series has never been about Vader, but I would encourage you to read this issue before saying that. You may not have realized it, but this entire story has been building Vader’s character and showing how scary he is. You will fear Vader by the end of this story and if you don’t then you’re full of it.

The story picks up with Hock facing off against Kaddak, but he’s not the monster that we were once shown. In fact he looks like a fucking hero compared to Hock. It’s strange because you’ve really felt (or should have) for Hock up until this point, but watching him fight Kaddak you wonder who’s the monster exactly? Since their battle dictates where the story goes I will have to leave it there, but again… Vader will earn your fear.

Now you might think that Siedell knows Vader better than anyone else, but that’s not quite true. If it were then you wouldn’t get what he’s done with the character. What is true is that Siedell knows what fans expect and want from the character. The sequel/prequels unfortunately diminished the character, but here Siedell has built him up and made him the scary ass villain from the original trilogy. He gives you a reason to be scared upon his arrival and it’s not just because he’ll force choke you, it’s because he’ll then go and kill your family and anyone that happens upon his path on the way to and from killing your family. Siedell delivers the Vader we all want and that’s why it’s so good and entertaining to read his Vader tales.

SW Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #5 CoverAll of this hinders on the art of course and Gabriel Guzman has gone above and beyond with this series. This issue in particular delivers some iconic scenes; scenes that I will not soon forget. Accompanying Guzman is Michael Atiyeh on colors and Atiyeh adds to iconic pages. There is a scene in which Vader is entering the city that’s now on fire and crumbling. We see him from behind with his cape flowing in the wind and his saber drawn and slightly pulled behind him. It’s a powerful visual that needs both artist and colorist to make possible. The glow of the saber illustrates how bloody Vader’s hands are. At that point it’s not so much glowing as it is a representation of the blood he’s spilled that day.

As always with this series I could go on and on, but at this point you’ve probably already decided to read it or not so do that. I don’t know if Siedell will be back with another Vader series, but I certainly hope that he has one more in him before the license passes to Marvel who will utilize it to produce “Star Wars Variants” for their monthly titles like they do everything else.

If you did like this series I would suggest checking out the other Vader titles and seeing the character development that Dark Horse has put into Darth Vader. They have in fact picked him up after his creation and prepared him to be the character we find in the original trilogy. I’m not going to argue if licensed comics are good or bad for the industry, but I will say that the entire industry should be founded on the notation of storytelling and Dark Horse’s Vader run has told an incredible story with real development for the character and nowhere is that illustrated more than with this series.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Tim Siedell Artist: Gabriel Guzman Colorist: Michael Atiyeh Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 4/16/14 Formant: Mini-Series, Print/Digital