Sith Lord vs. Librarian.
Though they share the same title and lead protagonist, there’s not actually a lot in common between the Kieron Gillen/Salvador Larroca and Charles Soule Giuseppe Camuncoli Darth Vader books. Each explores Vader at a very different point in his career as a Sith Lord, and each takes a drastically different approach to depicting the character and his corner of the Star Wars universe. But one thing both books share is the ability to reveal a lot about the motivations and desires of Anakin Skywalker through his actions alone. This issue is as strong a showcase for that quality as any.
Darth Vader #10 wraps up the showdown between Vader and former Jedi librarian Jocasta Nu. There’s a very doomed, fatalistic quality to that encounter, as there simply isn’t much room for a happy ending for the latter character. That all makes her final stand that much more powerful. Charles Soule has taken a character known for little beyond scolding uppity Jedi Knights and given her real depth and pathos. There’s something tragic yet noble to the idea that Jocasta could have kept her head down and weathered this storm, yet her desire to hold Anakin responsible for his crimes brought her to this point.
This final showdown also allows Soule and Camuncoli the opportunity to further explore Anakin’s state of mind. And at this point, it still feels more appropriate to refer to him as “Anakin” rather than “Vader.” He’s still coming to terms with what he’s lost and what it means to be a true lord of the Sith. Without relying on clunky narration or exposition, Soule’s script meshes with Camuncoli’s powerful imagery to offer a profound look at the man beneath the armor. Vader makes a significant choice in this issue that serves as a critical step in his journey from Jedi hero to twisted villain and finally to redeemed father.
None of this would work without Camuncoli’s steady hand and ability to inject ample amounts of intensity and energy into the page. As much as it’s easy to complain about Camuncoli’s character designs not really capturing the look and feel of the movies, it’s far, far preferable to the photo-realistic approach taken by books like Star Wars and Poe Dameron. At least this series has a unique flavor and sticks to it month after month.