Like most of the “Vader Down” crossover, Star Wars #14 is filled with plenty of epic moments, like BT taking out a squad of stormtroopers with a flamethrower, every time Darth Vader gets a line, or the fact that R2D2 has some kind of poison antidote needle in his chassis. And Jason Aaron makes these moments cohere into some kind of a whole with the shared Obi Wan Force Ghost voice for Luke and Vader. (For all of its fun, the Han and Chewbacca vs. Krrsantan plot is just filler in the larger scheme of things.) Add slightly improved art from Deodato and Martin, and the “Vader Down” finale can’t come soon enough. (It comes out today as well and will be quite the family affair.)
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.
Though less photo-realistic and painterly than previous artist John Cassaday, Immonen is much more of a traditional comic book artist, eschewing strict realism for more representative & kinetic action and layouts. He also has a particular knack for using body language and facial expressions to express characterization, showing readers visually what a given character is feeling at a given time just by the look on their face or the way they’re standing. It’s a skill he puts to good use here, making vivid Luke’s aw-shucks naivete as he stumbles his way through a Nar Shaddaa bar fight, Han’s combination of chagrin and frustration at Sana’s continued instance that he’s A. up to no good and B. her husband, and the transition of Leia’s reaction to Sana from wry amusement to righteous fury as the woman proves to be no easy pushover.
Following the series’ initial, action-packed story arc, Jason Aaron and John Cassaday settle in for a relatively quiet fourth issue. This is a breath-taking issue, a chance for the creators to focus on characterization and set some plots in motion. To wit, there’s Luke Skywalker, dealing with the reality of his (non)status as a Jedi following his confrontation with Darth Vader in the first arc
With this issue, Jason Aaron and John Cassaday wrap up the inaugural story of Marvel’s new Star Wars series, an action-orientated finale finds the Rebels fleeing from the surging fury of Darth Vader aboard their purloined AT-AT walker, desperate to reach the Millennium Falcon, as Luke does his best to ensure their mission wasn’t for naught. As a single issue, it’s all a bit rushed (particularly in the subplot with Threepio losing control of the Falcon to a group of scavengers, which added a nice bit of tension to last issue but doesn’t really payoff much here), but it’s to the larger story’s benefit that it only runs three issues. Overall, there’s not much plot here (Rebel mission goes south in part 1, they try to escape in issue 2, they escape in issue #3), but thankfully it doesn’t get stretched out any further than three issues.
For obvious reasons, both the original Marvel series and Dark Horse’s various Star Wars titles generally tended to shy away from direct confrontations between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Such encounters were the province of the films, and even after the cinematic saga had (seemingly) ended, there was, presumably, a desire to not water down their existing interactions too much by writing in a ton of off screen battles. Both characters were staples of the Expanded Universe, but rarely interacted with one another directly.