Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows

 Darth Vader and the Gayest Title Ever!

 Harlequin Romance title aside, STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE CRY OF SHADOWS is an excellent book. Writer Tim Siedell wisely keeps Darth Vader on the periphery of the story, and, in doing so, gives him back the mythical, larger-than-life quality that George Lucas destroyed in the prequel trilogy by making Anakin Skywalker a whiny little bitch.

 Despite having "Darth Vader" in the title, the star of the story is a Clone Trooper named Hock. Abandoned and left for dead by the Jedi Master he served with during The Clone Wars, an embittered Hock follows the stories of a fearless, legendary warrior back to their source: Darth Vader. In Vader, Hock finds someone who hates The Jedi as much as he does, someone who will fight them with the same reckless abandon. As Hock grows closer to Vader, he also learns that The Sith Lord is possessed of a cold, ruthless sense of purpose, and after a horribly botched battle against a separatist stronghold, Hock begins to wonder if he hasn't chosen the wrong man to follow.

  STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE CRY OF SHADOWS collects the five-issue Dark Horse mini-series of the same name, complete with covers (Sort of...Dark Horse, as always, refuses to actually feature a cover gallery, or to present the covers before the respective issue.) The covers are presented on the front and back of the hardcover's dustjacket, and scattered around the front and back of the collection.

 The art, by Gabriel Guzman, gets the job done, and I appreciated the quick, offhand way that Guzman sets Hock apart from the other Clone Troopers. That's been a pet peeve of mine in all of the comics that deal with the Clones: Armored or not, THEY ALL LOOK ALIKE. Guzman handily solves that problem, and it was appreciated.

 Writer Tim Siedell is a new name to me, but he seems to be one to keep an eye on in the future. This is far from an epic story- It's mainly an internal monologue, as Hock tells of his adventures alongside Darth Vader, and while that adventure covers a lot of ground, it's a relatively quick read, and Siedell keeps the story flowing along smoothly. He manages to convey the Anakin-like confusion and uncertainty that Vader must have felt in those nascent days, but, by focusing on Hock, he keeps the doubts and fears of The Sith Lord internalized enough to allow Darth Vader to retain his mythic, frightful stature.

 Fans looking for a Darth Vader story may be disappointed by the book's distinct lack of Vader time, but Star Wars fans who are just looking for a good story will find this book to be a nice change of pace from Dark Horse's usual Star Wars epics.

 Dark Horse provided a review copy.

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