Star Wars: Vader - Dark Visions #1 Review

by Kaasen Koy on March 07, 2019

Dark Visions #1 Cover
Writer: Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum
Artist: Paolo Villanelli
Colorist: Arif Prianto
Publisher: Marvel

Star Wars: Vader - Dark Visions #1 begins a limited series that reexamines the Sith Lord through the eyes of those outside the saga's central conflicts. This debut issue tracks Darth Vader as he’s forced to land on the planet Cianap, which has been ravaged by a massive creature known as “The Ender.”

Dark Visions #1 spends a good deal of time on something that even the best of the recent Star Wars comics have sped through: setting the stage. Our narrator is a young boy on a desolate planet where a gigantic beast has destroyed and taken over the surface of the world. The people revere the monster as an angry god and only crawl out from the underground when it slumbers. The technology of Cianap is all but lost and their past culture is forgotten. The boy believes the starfighting above his world to be waged between gods, and when Vader is forced to make an emergency landing, "The Ender" beast is awakened early, the curious boy lingers to watch the battle unfold between them.

This post-apocalyptic, semi-mythical fantasy setting is far riskier and wilder than anything Marvel has done with Star Wars since reacquiring the franchise, and the boy’s naive perspective adds depth and novelty to this crazy creature feature. As far as Vader’s part, he’s fighting a giant Godzilla-shark from cover to cover (and it’s as campy and out-there as you’d expect from that cover). But the boy’s medieval inner monologue (he sees Vader as a “black knight” wielding a “magical sword”) gives the whole thing a fresh feeling and grounds it all (as much as it can). At least, it certainly succeeds in Dark Visions’ mission statement: to shed Darth Vader in a different light -- and it’s both impressive and disappointing that the Cianap epic begins and ends in this single issue.

The artwork is fittingly otherworldly — every panel is bathed gleaming light and the golden, sun-splashed world seems ever clouded by dust and at once sprayed with whitewater. The comic may be a bit overwhelmed by its own whirring motion and frantic inertia, and the action can feel a little disjointed; a swing of Vader’s saber in one panel isn’t always followed by its consequence in the next.

Dark Visions #1 has its flaws. It’s an intriguing bit of world-building wrapped around 20 pages of non-stop monster-fight. But that world-building and the clear purpose of this series — along with the fact that this is the campiest, zaniest Star Wars comic in ages — has me more eager to read the next issue than anything else in Star Wars comics.

Our Score:


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