Star Wars #13 turns the focus away from Darth Vader directly for a little while showing the fear and carnage he spreads off panel and in the reactions of Rebel soldiers. Instead readers get a little mid-event showdown between Dr. Aphra and her assassin droids Triple Zero, and Bee Tee and the fearless foursome of a comatose for half the issue Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the ace in the hole, R2D2. Writer Jason Aaron splashes this issue with plenty of dark humor from Triple Zero and Bee Tee, who have been a real highlight of the event so far. There is also plenty of trash talk, double crossing, and moral code comparison between Han Solo and Aphra, who are the most similar in profession and in skill level among the group.
Artist Mike Deodato also fares better at drawing planetside battles versus space ones, and he even uses speed lines when Chewbacca does his Wookiee strength thing against Triple Zero. His photorealistic style makes it seem like there are actual actors playing Han Solo, Aphra, and others, like the little smirk both give each other when they shoot wasp worms over each other. For the Han/Aphra scenes, he uses a six panel grid to show that they are evenly matched as they bumble into each other covered in the worms. Colorist Frank Martin continues to give the background a dusky brown look while using brighter yellows, reds, and blues for the discharges of blaster bolts and various energies from the characters.
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Even if the outcome of the fight isn’t really in jeopardy because it’s a middle issue of a crossover, Aaron brings whimsy, humor, and dash of danger to the earlier mentioned battle. There is a running arm dismemberment gag, which is really funny in retrospect because so many characters lose that specific limb in Star Wars (and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 2), including C3P0 some time before the upcoming The Force Awakens. Also, Aaron gets to contrast the resourcefulness of R2D2, who protects himself from BT and Triple Zero with his droid profanity skills, his evasive abilities, and even a touch of the old bathing oil to top it off with Bee Tee and Triple Zero, who are entirely reliant on Aphra to keep under control and not destroying everything around them. Changing a droid’s programming from translation and navigation assistance to killing and torture does place a toll on them, and Aaron and Deodato shows the results of this in an explosion packed manner in Star Wars #13. This added character wrinkle along with the quick witted jokes in Aaron’s script keep things fun even if the battle is just an appetizer to the main course of a future battle royale with a Sith lord.
Star Wars #13 has comedy, action, and holds Vader back to make him even more terrifying as Leia and her Rebel forces charge forward while the rest of the main cast of the comic is busy fighting the supporting cast of Darth Vader. Mike Deodato’s fight choreography isn’t blistering, but he excels at piecing noteworthy images together, like the progression of events where Luke wakes up from his coma, kicks the annoying BT and runs to comfort R2D2 as if he’s the family pet. “Vader Down’s” cliffhanger game continues to be on point with yet another duel of mind and body to take place in next week’s installment.