Charles Soule’s stellar Star Wars work continues, as Darth Vader #19 provides an intriguing and exciting start to the new “Fortress Vader” arc.
STAR WARS: DARTH VADER #19 IS PART OF THE CURRENT STAR WARS CANON. CHECK OUT THE TIMELINE.
Charles Soule’s work on the current Star Wars continuity has been consistently excellent, and in particular his efforts at exploring the early days of Darth Vader’s apprenticeship under Emperor Palpatine have been truly exceptional – perhaps the high-water mark for Star Wars comics in the current canon. His run alongside the art team of Giuseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini continues today with Darth Vader #19, which kicks off the new “Fortress Vader” story arc.
According to Soule himself, this is the arc that the entire series has been building towards, and Darth Vader #19 gets it off to a suitably intriguing start. The key to these books has always been subtlety; an exploration of Vader’s character and the remnants of his humanity that doesn’t dispel his penchant for evil or challenge his status as the franchise’s most iconic villain. It’s the best kind of expanded-universe storytelling that fleshes out our understanding of the characters without compromising what they mean to the broader narrative.
While Darth Vader #19 is relatively contained and heavy on action, it still suggests more complexity. Tasked with stealing a new-born baby from a former Jedi, the issue is divided pretty neatly between the lightsaber battle between Vader and the father – stunningly illustrated, as usual – and a chase sequence as the mother attempts to escape with the infant while being pursued by the Inquisitorius. Both components work well, with the issue maintaining the usual extremely high standard of suspense-building and pacing.
But the more interesting elements of Darth Vader #19 concern the nature of the mission from the perspectives of the Inquisitor and Vader; what it means to wrench a child from the arms of its innocent mother, and what purpose that might serve for the burgeoning Empire. Would Vader, as cold and unfeeling as he is, really accept such a mission unquestioningly? There are suggestions that he won’t – and I sincerely hope he doesn’t. But more importantly, where exactly did he get a castle? I can’t wait to find out.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.