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Darth Vader #10

Review by Paul Bowler.

Having endured the Emperor’s wrath and survived the test of the Eye of Webbish, the Dark Lord of the Sith’s ordeal continues in Star Wars: Darth Vader #10 with a terrifying confrontation with the Red Horror in the depths of space! As Imperial forces close in, the greatest predator in the galaxy is now the only thing standing in the way of Vader’s quest to uncover the Emperor’s greatest secrets!

The action and drama are almost palpable in Marvel Comics Star Wars: Darth Vader #10 (2020-), as writer Greg Pak steers the Dark Lord’s journey into the realms of action-packed star-fighter combat and dark psychedelic horror. Vader has already survived his brutal punishment for defying the Emperor, then being stranded on Mustafar where he rebuilt his cybernetic shattered body, before fighting the assassin Ochi, waves of droid mercenaries, and tackling the bizarre trial within the Eye of Webbish Bog. Now, having taken his old star-fighter and Ochi along for the ride, Vader set course for the planet Exegol – where the Emperor’s darkest and most insidious secrets are waiting to be discovered. 

Trouble is the only route to Exegol is through the Red Nebula, forcing Vader to navigate his way past a trio of Imperial Star Destroyers commandeered by administrator Umbaran and the monstrous Summa-Verminoth that lurks within the nebular. Pak’s scripting and characterisation is bang on point, with the Imperial’s cold and calculating facade wavering in the face of Vader’s relentless determination, while Ochi’s snarky quips punctuate the tension with plenty of wry humour as Vader and his unwitting prisoner continue to make a surprisingly efficient — if rather fraught — double-act.

The art by Raffaele Ienco is gloriously detailed and almost  feels cinematic in its rendering of the huge scope and scale of events in this issue. Vader’s iconic look is now very different with his limbs and cybernetics rebuilt from the junk found on Mustufar – giving the Dark Lord a more gritty appearance. The space combat with the TIE fighters is also impressive and puts you right in the heart of the action. However, it is the Lovecraftian appearance of the grotesque leviathan Summa-Verminoth itself, whose attacks are both physical and psychological, and  Vader’s dream-like journey through classic scenes of the Star Wars saga past, present, and possible future where Vader confronts his worst nightmare that are truly mind-blowing. Ienco’s artwork is also beautifully enriched by colourist Neeraj Menon’s exquisite use of tone and shade throughout, and the cover by Arron Kuder and Richard Isanove presents a hauntingly bleak snapshot into this most mesmerising aspect of Vader’s journey so far during this Into The Fire story-arc.

One of the caveats the Emperor decreed at the start Vader’s fall from grace, was that Vader was prohibited from using the Force to help him during these trials, and that doing so would mean his death. It is this pivotal limiting factor for the Dark Lord of the Sith that now crucially plays a key factor in the climatic scenes of Darth Vader #10, where immovable force finally quite literally meets immovable object as the quasi-nihilistic rhetoric of the Dark Side ultimately tips the scales for the victor.

Into The Fire Part V: The Red Horror reaches a major turning point in this compelling storyline, and the creative team on this book continue to impress on every level. Star Wars: Darth Vader #10 transcends the conventional perceptions of Darth Vader’s legacy with a skilful reframing of reality,  one that juxtaposes  Vader’s destiny with that of his son, and brings the Emperor’s darkest secrets within striking distance at last!

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer Greg Pak / Artist Raffaele Ienco

Colorist Neeraj Menon / Letterer VC’s Joe Caramagna

Cover Arron Kuder & Richard Isanove

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook