A couple of years I decided to pick up a mini-series that crossed the Star Wars titles that Marvel had released for Vader Down, mainly with the premise of Darth Vader crashing on a planet that has a rebel base. Plus, this is the series that before Rouge One has one of the Vader scenes that has been seen. And out of the two I prefer this over Rouge One.
Part one of the series begins with a text crawl. This gives the background from the previous events happening in the series since the first part is a one shot instead of being part of the Darth Vader series. The crawl says that Vader discovered that Luke Skywalker was the Rebel that was responsible for blowing up the Death Star as well as knowing that he is Luke’s father. It also goes on to say that Luke doesn’t know that Vader is his father and that he is with the Rebel Alliance but also found a journal that Ben Kenobi had and he began to investigate any information of the Jedi’s. The crawl ends with Vader receiving information from Dr Aphra who found out that Luke is at a Jedi Temple on Vrogas Vas.
The issue actually starts with the image of Vader’s TIE Fighter going through hyperspace with Dr Aphra informing him about the planet Vrogas Vas saying that it is a barren world with no native life forms. Vader asks if there had been anything from Commander Karbin, who turns out to be a Mon Calamari, same race as Admiral Ackbar, who was assigned by the Emperor to find the pilot that blew up the Death Star and that they believe that he doesn’t know that it was Luke that blew it up. Vader then says that he will need to deal with Karbin after he has Luke and he comes out of hyperspace. Arriving in a two-page spread of Vader arriving in front of a three squadrons of X-Wings. The leader of Blue Squadron reports in saying that the drills are cancelled and that they only think that this TIE is just a scout. Vader informs Aphra about the Rebel’s and that he better hope that this isn’t a trap. Aphra says that she would never send Vader into a trap since it would seem like suicide and tells him to get out of there but Vader says that he can sense Luke on the planet. Aphra tries to speak through but it comes out distorted and just says that he is a lord of the Sith and that the pilots should be the ones who run. Blue squadron starts their assault on Vader but it proves to be useless as Vader in his TIE is able to out manoeuvre them with ease and he manages to destroy the squadron. The remaining X-Wings make their attack on Vader and Aphra tries to get in contact with Vader to find that the contact is lost.
In another two page spread we see Vader taking on Yellow Squadron with one of the fighters informing that Vader has deflector shields and tries to focus fire on something but couldn’t continue after being shot down. The fighters then send out a barrage of torpedoes but Vader being the awesome character that he is uses his force powers and diverts the torpedoes around him hitting the remaining members of Yellow Squadron. From the view of one fighter Vader is seen flying from the explosions and chatter asking if there was anyone left from Yellow and that they can’t believe that this is happening since that it is just one man and the person from in the cockpit says that the pilot of the TIE is Vader, the pilot being revealed to be Luke. Red Leader (I think) asks Luke if he has a visual confirmation but he says no but can sense that he is the pilot in the TIE. Red Leader says that it doesn’t matter and that Vader is outnumbered and that they can come up with a strategy to beat him but Luke intervenes saying that he knows what Vader is like as a pilot and says that they won’t be able to stop him. Luke then breaks off and decides to take Vader on one-on-one. Vader tries to shoot Luke down noting that this is a pilot worth killing but then sense that the pilot is actually Luke. Luke rams into Vader’s TIE and they are both sent crashing to the planet’s surface and Vader says that if Luke is truly strong with the force it will not kill him. Red Leader announces that Vader Down and says that he is now on Vrogas Vas and asks for assistance from available alliance forces for assistance. He then goes on to say that Vader is alone with his comms jammed and that the price of him being apprehended came at a steep price leading to a two-page spread of Red Squadron passing the remains of the pilots and debris that Vader had caused. On the planet surface of Vrogas Vas we discover that the rebels have a secret refuelling base and that a station wide alert saying that all infantry is to move out to apprehend Vader.
On a Rebel Ship Han Solo is talking to Princess Leia about Darth Vader being taken down over Vrogas Vas and that they are going there to get Vader to give the Emperor a disadvantage. Leia then goes on to say that the base there have gone mobile to apprehend Vader and that she is sending General Dodonna with a battalion to back them up. Han interrupts saying that she should reconsider what they are doing but then realises that Luke is at Vrogas Vas. Han asks Leia something that seems rather vague with Leia responding that Luke would understand the situation and that Vader is the priority here. I think that this could do with something that happened in the main Star Wars series that I haven’t had a chance to get around to reading yet. Leia heads off towards some ships (possibly the Millennium Falcon) and Han says that Vader isn’t his priority but then tells Chewbacca to get the Falcon ready for flight. Cutting over to the cockpit of the Falcon, Chewie, Leia, C3PO and Han are getting ready to head out with C3PO starting to say that he has a rather bad feeling but Han cuts him of saying that we all do showing a panel of a fleet of ships preparing to head to Vrogas Vas.
Back over to Aphra, she has intercepted Rebel communications and confirms that Vader had been shot down over Vrogas Vas but no word if he was dead or alive. She then goes on to say that she doesn’t know what is worse but she has to go after him either way and seems rather worried if Vader is dead to be then cut off by Triple-0 that they should just murder everyone that they encounter. She then says that they are going to be flying into a nest of Rebel Troops and that he can have his bloodlust satisfied there.
On the ground of Vrogas Vas three grey Y-Wings head over to the remains of the crash site where Vader landed. They don’t notice if he is alive but they notice and they commence their attack on him. But Vader uses his force powers to hurl the debris of his TIE and throw it at the attacking Y-Wings taking them out with ease. With Luke he and R2D2 survive their crash and with Luke thinking that Vader may have not have survived and seeing an explosion (most likely the Y-Wings) and tells Artoo that his original plans of learning to be a Jedi has to wait since he needs to help his friends, as we see Luke and Artoo passing a Jedi Temple. Back with Vader he realises the reason why Luke came here but he gets interrupted by the rebels from the near-by base to lay down his weapons since he is surrounded and on another two page spread we see Vader surrounded by a legion of troops saying that he is only surrounded by fear and dead men wielding his lightsabre ending the first part.
Part two continues off in the page of Darth Vader #13 opening with a splash page with Vader standing surrounded by Rebel soldiers as they ask him to surrender. Vader replies saying very well and then tells them to lower their weapons and that they won’t be harmed and then uses his force powers to activate the grenades on the soldiers, blowing them up. One of the Rebels fires a rocket of some sort (from a tank I think) and Vader reflects it and destroying another vehicle and it manages to cause a large smokescreen and Vader starts killing the Rebels in the low visual area.
With the Falcon on Vrogas Vas, Leia and Han are updated about what has happened so far. Han asks him how they brought down Vader and the soldier replies saying that it was Skywalker who rammed into Vader causing them both to crash on the planet and they don’t know if that Luke is dead since that they have used most of their manpower to deal with Vader. Leia arranges for a group of Rebels to get Speeders ready for deployment but Han says that they should focus on finding Luke. But Leia responds saying Vader watched what happened to Alderaan and that this may be our one chance for justice (and together we can be justice). Han asks to lend a Speeder but Leia isn’t giving him one since that she is using all of her resources to get Vader. Han seems to be rather disappointed by this and he and Chewie decides to go and rescue Luke with the Falcon.
Back with Aphra she is seen conversing with someone over channels but not much is known. Triple-0 asks if he should set out some weapons but she says no and asks him to bring up the visuals on the targets with Triple-0 bringing up information on the main Rebels that being Luke, Han, Leia, R2D2 and C3PO. Aphra asks on how they were going to handle Han and Triple-0 asks if he is fearsome but she then replies that she has never heard of him and decide to focus back on rescuing Vader.
Leia starts her command for the Rebel base and asks for a report with a troop of rebels arriving at the site to discover Vader’s crashed TIE. The say that there is no sign of him there and Leia asks for a report from the Speeders with two of them saying that they have nothing but we then see that the third as their sights on Vader and Leia says for the pilot to attack Vader. The rebels at the crash site inform Leia that the TIE had been stripped and that the Blaster Array had been taken. We then see the Speeder being shot down and Vader saying that the Rebels will not keep him from Luke.
Luke notices the Speeder being shot down and says that this is his fault and says believes that if he hit Vader straight on he would be dead. Aphra manages to land on the planet and discovers where Luke is, wondering into the Jedi Temple and plans on capturing him to get back in Vader’s good graces. Triple-0 says that he is looking forward for human hunting but Aphra cuts him off since that Luke managed to go one-on-one with Boba Fett and came out on top. She then spouts off a list of ideas before heading back into the ship and pulling out and item. Luke inside the temple notices writing in the temple that apparently was made with a lightsabre and starts feeling something and starts getting a vison of two lights saying that one was Ben and then another, darker light and him designating that one Anakin. Luke tries to concentrate on the lights but then looks back to see the lights now gone and a voice saying ‘excuse me master’ revealing C3PO. Luke goes over to him but R2 goes rather haywire and alerting and Luke turns around to then get shocked by C3PO who actually turns out to be Triple-0 who says that he is going to kill R2 ending part two.
Part three continues on in the pages of Star Wars #13. The issue opens with Triple-0 saying that R2 is defending his master. He then gets BeeTee to communicate with R2 where it appears that they being rather fowl-mouthed to each other and they both draw their weapons, R2 with his laser cutter and BeeTee pulling out a plethora of heavy weaponry R2 realises that he is outmatched and runs away with BeeTee shooting at them. Han is flying over the planet looking for Luke and notices a large explosion over a ridge and heads over that way to see that BeeTee has just went nuts. Triple-0 also a little bit nuts wants to take some of Luke’s blood but Aphra says that the blood stays where it is and says that she can hear a ship to then hear a voice telling to ‘drop the kid or I’ll drop you’ and Triple-0 wanting now to drain that person’s blood and Aphra guess that the person targeting them is Han Solo. Han seeming surprised this and Aphra says that she heard about him five minutes ago saying that he has a number of bounties on his head and that if he was Han that he would have shot first and give warning later. Aphra then tells Han her name and that he recognises it but says that he hasn’t heard it.
Aphra tells Han to back slowly away from them and says that she will kill Luke with Triple-0 before Han can even make a move. But Han interrupts her and asks how her droid will kill Luke if he doesn’t have any arms. Aphra questions his threat and Triple-0 recalls that he forgot to bring up some information that Han has an associate and he tries to recall the race, Aphra reveals the race being a Wookie and notices Chewie standing behind him. In the next panel Chewie rips off the arm of Triple-0 who then drops Luke down and goes towards Chewie. Aphra tries to blast Han and vice versa.
Back at the Rebel Base, Delta Squad prepare to head out and Leia is going to lead them with both a Commander and C3PO both saying that she should stay here and act as over watch. But Leia rallies up the troops and heads out to find Vader and this time she says that this time it is shoot to kill. Back with Luke he starts waking up and sees R2 being chased by BeeTee when Luke then kicks BeeTee sending him over a small cliff. Luke asks R2 what has been happening but doesn’t get any response but gets chased by BeeTee and the two of them run away. Chewie is then beating up Triple-0 with his own arm, I really want to know what is up with Chewie ripping the arms off people since that a deleted scene from The Force Awakens shows him ripping off the arm of an alien. Chewie knocks him down on the ground and he starts to exposit saying that not all Protocol droids have 500 mg of Mandalorian xenotox in their middle finger and stabs Chewie with him. We then get a panel from the point of view of Chewie where he seems to be tripping and seeing multiple Triple-0 and falls down.
Aphra continues her blaster fight with Han and Han questions if she was supposed to be smart since that she was standing underneath a hive of wasp-worms but when we go to the next panel we see that there is a nest also right above where Han is positioned. They both fire their shots aiming for the hives and they both hit releasing the wasp-worms on them. They both then get covered with wasp-worms and Han quotes Indiana Jones saying ‘not wasp-worms anything but wasp-worms’ and they both end up colliding with each other. Triple-0 tries to get the killing blow in a downed Chewie but then gets his other arm cut off and Triple-0 complains about them going after his arms and Luke stabs him through the chest.
Luke helps Chewie out of the cave and notices Han. He manages to wake him up and Luke thanks him for rescuing him. Even though he got stabbed in the chest, Triple-0 is still working and talks to BeeTee saying that they have killed Aphra and that they were going to betray her and kill her themselves but since they don’t have anyone to lead them Triple-0 order BeeTee to kill them. Artoo moves towards BeeTee and squirts the purple stuff from the Sunny D commercial which causes BeeTee to be blinded and then he goes berserk firing his weapons.
Back with the Rebels going after Vader things aren’t looking too good as they have massive casualties and that Vader has taken out their tanks and that the rest of the team are not doing so well. Leia is with two remaining soldiers and she says that they need to keep going but they meet a rather quick death being force choked by Vader who ends up confronting Leia ending part three.
Part four continues in the pages of Darth Vader #14. The issue begins with C3PO alone by one of the transport ships and gets contacted by Han Solo saying that they have found Luke however Leia isn’t that good since she found Vader. Back with Aphra she wakes up and gets contacted by somebody that she just refers to the hairy cavalry. She then tells her droids to follow Skywalker and co to watch where they go and she tells the hairy cavalry the same.
Back with Leia and Vader she says that Vader is going to pay for his crimes. Vader responds to her says that her end won’t be the same as Alderaan but he then gets distracted by something that he can sense coming towards then and asks if she thinks that they can ambush a lord of the Sith. Leia seems to be confused by this and uses this as a chance to run away. Vader tells her to run and lure Luke to him. Leia manages to reunite with C3PO where he asks her where everyone is and she replies that they’re dead. She then tells C3PO to head to where Luke’s last position was and he questions her and she then proceeds to communicate with any other pilots to converge on her point since that she thinks Vader will be following her to her position and to fire all their weapons. C3PO says that it will be certain death but focusing more about how it could be Leia’s death. As C3PO heads off Leia tells him to tell Luke and Han that she is sorry.
Back with Han and Luke, they get Chewie on board the Falcon where the comfort Chewie who is still poisoned and hear what Leia is planning to do. Han says that it’s time to save-all-his-friends-day and informs Leia that the Falcon is in its way and that they are not going to let her make her sacrifice. But they get knocked down by another ship and the crash back down on the planet where they discover another Wookie, this one called Krrsantan and Han think that he is here for the bounty that Jabba has on his head. But it looks like that he is not hear for Han but instead is here for Chewie and they start fighting. Luke manages to get out of the crashed Falcon and Han tells him to go and save Leia. Han says that he and Chewie can deal with Krrsantan since they have the numbers advantage and he then sees Chewie being held above Krrsantan.
C3PO heading through the desert comes across Triple-0 and BeeTee thinking that it in fact Luke. He asks Triple-0 if he can help him and replies Triple-0 notices that he is the same type of droid and tells BeeTee to take him out. Triple-0 thanks BeeTee for his assistance and we now see that he is possession of C3PO’s arms. Back with Leia, Vader arrives at her location asking if he thought her friends would have saved her but Leia replies that they won’t save her but end him and pushes a button. We then cut over to see a squadron of Y-Wings flying over confirming that they had received the signal and Luke noticing that he is too late. Amber Wing lines up a shot to go for Vader but gets shot down by a TIE fighter and several more appear in the sky. The pilot that crashed down on the surface tells somebody to stay the hell away, possibly having the audience think that it could be Vader but in the next panels we see the pilot shoot and a purple lightsabre reflecting the shot and knocking the blaster out of the pilot’s hand. The pilot doesn’t understand and the mysterious wielder says that none of them understand the most elementary tactics and then stabs him with the lightsabre. The figure then says that if the pilot killed Vader he wins and if Vader kills them all he still wins. We then see that the wielder is in fact Commander Karbin, who looks rather robotic, with a Star Destroyer, Imperial Shuttles and TIE fighters arriving in the planet ending part four.
Part five continues in the pages of Star Wars #14. Leia talks to Vader about that how no matter how many soldiers that he sends into battle that the he will never stop the rebellion. Vader says that this isn’t a war but an execution and that Leia’s is long overdue. Vader then brings up the fact that the soldiers that are surrounding them are not his soldiers and that he didn’t call for reinforcements. It turns out that the soldiers are under the control of Karbin. Karbin says that Leia is not going to be put out of her misery but Vader. He then says to Vader that he realised that Vader was being set up to take out the Rebels and for him to swoop in and take the ultimate prize for himself, the prize being Luke. Vader stops Karbin’s troopers saying that he won’t be having any prizes and that he will have a quick death and pulls out his lightsabre. Karbin’s arm’s separate his arms to pull off a design similar to General Grievous and the two of them duel as Leia runs off.
Chewie and Krrsantan are still brawling with each other and Han tires to get a shot at Krrsantan but he throws Chewie at him and knocks the gun out of his hand. Krrsantan manages to get the gun from Han and knocks him away. R2 makes his way to Han where he finds out that R2 never gave Chewie his shot yet and realises that’s why he is getting the crap beaten out of him. Krrsantan holds up a giant rock and plans to kill Chewie with it but R2 manages to shoot Chewie who manages to Hulk Up and punches the rock in the face of Krrsantan and continues to beat him up.
Luke on trying to find Leia finds him back at the Jedi Temple he starts to feel the force around him and hears a voice calling his name. Luke asks if it is Ben and he says that he found his journal on Tatooine and that he read about the temple on the planet thinking that there is something hear that they can use, but the voice says that he shouldn’t have come here as he was not here and that he is not ready yet. Luke asks him how he does get ready but he doesn’t get much of a reply as Stormtroopers have surrounded him. The Stormtroopers start shooting at him and Luke manages to get cover to start fining back and we see that Triple-0 and BeeTee have found Luke. BeeTee communicates with Triple-0 saying that organics are always trying to kill each other and Aphra communicates to him asking if they had found Luke. He informs her that they have found Luke and she tells him that they aren’t Vader’s troops and that they can’t let Luke fall into their hands and he and BeeTee have to do whatever they have to. BeeTee rolls in and uses a flamethrower to take out the Stormtroopers.
Back with Vader and Karbin continuing their duel Karbin says that he has the upper hand since that he had the upper-hand with wielding four lightsabres to Vader’s one. But with Karbin’s arrogance comes his fall as Vader uses his force tactics to use by pushing him away and throwing a statue on him. Vader then manages to slash off one of his arms and Karbin runs away into a cave to hide. Inside the cave Vader starts to hear the voices of the past saying that he was supposed to be the chosen one but he just says that it is just ghosts. Karbin then manages to get the drop on Vader and says that he will take his place at the Emperors side and they continue on with their duel.
Back with Chewie beating up Krrsantan and Han gets into contact with Luke asking he had found Leia and that they needed to get off the planet. Luke tells Han that there are Stormtroopers everywhere and then he gets whacked in the back of the head by a gun. Han tries to leave but he is then caught by Krrsantan. C3PO manages to re-join with R2 and tells him what has happened to him. He then says that he is going to try and get into communication with Leia saying that Luke has been captured by Stormtroopers, the situation being rather grim and suggesting that they would retreat, but Leia doesn’t respond. In the final splash page of the issue we see Vader continuing his fight with Karbin but Leia standing behind him aiming her gun at him.
The final part of the series finishes in Darth Vader #15. The issue opens up on a splash page with Vader and Karbin continuing their duel. C3PO continues to get into contact with Leia and we see multiple panels of Leia and what appears to be Alderaan exploding and tells C3PO to help Han and that they are going to get off the planet. Back with Vader and Karbin fighting, Vader gets informed by Aphra that Karbin’s men have got Luke and they are heading on a transport. Aphra wants to help Vader and he seems rather hesitant at first but then does accept her help and tells her what to do.
Back over with Han’s group C3PO asks Krrsantan to stop what he was doing to Han and ties to come up with a logical approach on dealing with him, but that doesn’t work as well. Krrsantan punches C3PO and that causes Krrsantan to be shocked in the process.
Vader tries to get away from Karbin and Karbin jumps towards to Vader. Karbin says that there is no running from the future but Vader replies saying that there isn’t going to be a future for Karbin as we see Aphra’s ship starting to crash down onto him. Aphra manages to eject from the ship and Vader kills Karbin. Aphra asks if she is in Vader’s good books but she will only be there if she can get Luke.
C3PO wakes up after being punched by Krrsantan and Han notices an Imperial Shuttle heading off betting that Luke is on it. Vader also notices the shuttle flying off and he uses his force powers to bring it down. Han and co. head in the direction of the of the crash shuttle and find Luke alive with barely a scratch on him. Han asks Luke if there was anyone on his tail but Luke says no and we then see two panels of Triple-0 and BeeTee taking out Imperial Guards.
They head back to the Falcon and find that Krrsantan has disappeared and that it has been patched up. Aphra comes out and says that she has planted a micro-bomb minefield around the Falcon and she has the trigger in her hand. She tells them to drop their weapons, which they do, and Han asks what she wants in which she replies that she doesn’t want to be thrown into Deep Space. Aphra message Vader that she has Luke and that she will extract them in the Falcon. Luke and Han are surprised that she actually does work for Vader and Han asks her if she really does know anything. She replies with the things that I could tell you but then is cut off with a punch to face delivered by Leia. Leia tells to get her on board as a prisoner since that she may have something of value and that Han knew that she would have never abandon them. In the Falcon they head off the planet, Luke talks about his experience in the Jedi Temple and that he was close to something but he’ll never know. The final splash page of the of the comic sees Vader staring at the Falcon.
For the first time that I have picked up the Marvel imprint of the new Star Wars series I was rather hesitant since I didn’t know what I was going to get myself into but after reading it. It did make me want to pick up the series (which I should get around to actually doing at some point) since that the story does flow rather well, actually it read the same way that the Night of the Monster Men series did that I reviewed last year, it had a flowing narrative and there was a lot of consistency through each of the different issues. I think the only downside that I have to it was not reading the stories that came before this just to get more used to the characters new and old, but none the less it is a good series to read.