Vader Down, or, When Licensing Goes Right

vaderdown

STAR WARS ATTACK

Synergy surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.

For instance, synergy dictated that when Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars their subsidiary, Marvel Entertainment, reacquired the Star Wars comic book license (which they had once held for a decade after the original film’s release). Marvel did a remarkable thing with that license. Rather than using it as an excuse to turn out subpar content with a cool logo on it (Star Wars Battlefront) Marvel took their newly acquired license as inspiration to create stories that are absolutely fantastic in their own right and just so happen to take place in the Star Wars universe and involve everyone’s favorite Star Wars characters.

Since the release of Star Wars #1 just over a year ago Marvel has produced a slew of fantastic miniseries, including Princess Leah, Kanan: The Last Padawan and one of the coolest comics of 2015, Lando. Additionally, throughout the year, two ongoing series taking place in the aftermath of the destruction of the first Death Star, the aforementioned main Star Wars title and a solo Darth Vader title have consistently done the Star Wars banner proud.

At long last these two series crossed paths in Vader Down. The six-part event written by Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Mike Deodato and Salvador Larroca, sees Darth Vader shot down behind enemy lines with the Rebel Alliance scrambling to bring the Sith Lord to justice.

On their own these six issues present a fantastic story that would be driving moviegoers wild if it were a film. All of the excitement, humor and adventure that define Star Wars can be found in Vader Down. The writers and artists manage to perfectly evoke the feeling of classic Star Wars without stumbling into artificial, cookie-cutter storytelling or gooey nostalgia.

But beyond being a first-rate Star Wars story Vader Down also serves as something of a victory lap for Marvel’s Star Wars comics, as half the fun is seeing favorite characters like Han Solo and Chewbacca cross paths with characters that have been established just this past year in Aaron and Gillen’s books, like the rogue archaeologist Dr. Aphra or the wookie bounty hunter Black Krrsantan.

My investment in these comic book characters that I’ve known for hardly a year, even when in the presence of characters I’ve known for twenty years, is a testament to just how dedicated the creative powers at Marvel are to doing right by Star Wars. Jason Aaron’s Star Wars and Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader are following in the steps of the animated series Clone Wars, which itself managed to establish no shortage of unforgettable additions to the Star Wars universe.

With today’s announcement that Star Wars Episode VIII has been delayed seven months fans are sure to be chomping at the bit for that next Star Wars feast. Make no mistake, Marvel’s monthly installments to the Star Wars universe will help tide you over.

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