Volume 4 completes the 25 comic run covering Darth Vader’s adventures between the first and second Star Wars movies (i.e., Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back). It’s everything you would hope for from a Darth Vader story—it’s visually gorgeous, fills in gaps between the movies, and Vader remains the sort of utterly amoral (with one exception) villain that we can’t help but root for (a little bit). Volume 4 (and comic no. 25) has the prettiest cover of the bunch, with Vader’s helmet melding into the Death Star and X-Wings racing past (albeit with points deducted for limited connection to the contents—the new Death Star makes an appearance but still remains far less finished and there are no X-Wings. All in all, it makes for a nice story that is admirable both for keeping it brief and for fitting in with the canon of the movies.
Volume 4 opens after the end of the Shu-Torun War featured in Volume 3. Vader is back in the Emperor’s good graces, and Cylo has been branded a traitor to the Empire. Vader splits his efforts between tracking down Cylo and Dr, Aphra, delegating the latter to the assassin droids Triple-Zero and Beetee.
It’s all very cool and literally every panel is gorgeous. It, I think, does the best it can in a limited run wedged between movies decades old. The fatal flaw is that nothing that happens and no new character, alien, or planet featured can be all that important—otherwise why don’t they show up in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, or The Force Awakens? Darth Vader is a complete badass throughout, but his approach to things is already pretty predictable by Volume 4. Triple-Zero and Beetee are mildly amusing, if derivative and really predictable. What the Vader do accomplish, on the other hand, is to show how Vader avoided falling out of—or, more accurately, regained—favor after the Death Star disaster, his relationship at that time with the Emperor, and how he reacted to learning of Luke.
4 of 5 Stars.