The Pull List: New Darth Vader Solo Series Expands a Universe Far, Far Away

Welcome to The Pull List, a weekly column where we check out a first issue of a new series and tell you whether or not to follow the comic based only on that. This week sees the launch of another in a line of new Star Wars comics hitting shelves recently and over the next few weeks: Darth Vader.

Not so long ago, in a business meeting not terribly far away, someone made a very important decision regarding the upcoming Star Wars sequels. You see, over the last 30 years or so, what has come to be known as “the expanded universe” – the collection of non-film media related to the Star Wars stories consisting of books, comics, video games, etc. – had grown rather large and unruly.

By the time the new films were to be released, the events following Return of the Jedi had already been thoroughly explored. So someone, somewhere made the decision that all expanded universe content would no longer be considered canon, giving the filmmakers free reign to do as they saw fit. This did, however, leave several gaps – previously filled in – now empty.

With the return of the comics rights for Star Wars to Marvel, a new iteration of Star Wars comics has begun. There’s already the cleverly titled series Star Wars, and a forthcoming Princess Leia series, among others, but the solo series dedicated to Darth Vader caught my eye today.

Darth Vader is the throughline for the entire Star Wars series. He’s one of the only characters to play an integral role in each of the six films. In a way, the Star Wars films are really about Darth Vader. So you’d think there wouldn’t be much to say on ‘ol Vader, but you’d be wrong. For example, have you ever wondered what Vader was doing between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back?

Because, honestly, I wasn’t. But still, that’s where this comic decides to pick up with the big bad villain, and I think it’s as fine a gap to fill in as any, really. But there is a strange sort of inevitability to it, in my mind. We know where his story is going, and we know where it’s been, there just doesn’t really feel like there are that many unanswered questions to answer during this particular time period. The plot proves adequate, but nothing more.

What this comic does do, though, is a personal pet peeve of mine. Throughout, there are small, but integral, references to events that have occurred in the currently running Star Wars comic. I’m sure I’ve expressed this before, but I’m not a big fan of comics that can’t stand on their own, ie. comics where you need to be reading another comic alongside it in order to fully understand what’s going on. Unfortunately, it seems that this is the direction this comic is going.

As for the art, like the story, it’s adequate, but nothing particularly stands out. One strange thing that I noticed, though, is just how bizarre Darth Vader’s outfit appears when you’re actually able to just take a good long gander at it illustrated on paper. It’s something I’m sure I’ve thought about, but never really contemplated until I read through this book. That’s all.

Overall, I can’t really say I recommend this series too strongly. If you’re a big Star Wars fan, you’ve probably already picked this up anyway, but for anyone looking to make this their first foray into the new expanded universe, I have to say you may just want to wait for something a little more interesting.

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