Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: Vader's Quest

Vader's Quest


Vader's Quest is a four part miniseries released in 1999. The trade paperback came out later that same year, and it was collected in the Early Victories omnibus in 2008.



Story

Vader's Quest serves as something of a sequel to Episode IV: A New Hope. The main plotline concerns Vader's attempts to learn the identity of the pilot that destroyed the Death Star. Once he discovers that it was his son, he attempts to cover it up, presumably so Palpatine cannot use it against him. He gets some ruthless scenes early on, and the conflict that this revelation instills in him is conveyed fairly well. This aspect of the story is easily the best, but it is weighed down by one of the most awful plotlines in Star Wars history.

The reason Luke got to blow up the Death Star? This guy had measles.
Another major aspect of the story concerns an original character, Jal Te Gniev. He was sick with measles during the Death Star run, and watched as Luke flew his ship into the Death Star and became an Alliance hero. He now possesses an unwavering hatred for Luke, and does a plethora of unintentionally hilarious things because of this. His exploits during the comic include: flying an X-wing into a bunch of trees during a false alarm, crying in his beer and tipping off Vader to Luke's location, sarcastically thanking Luke for his efforts in the Rebellion, and fooling a potential Alliance recruit into falling down a sewer. To say that he is an awful character is an understatement as he is truly one of the least likeable protagonists in Star Wars history. He gets a predictable shot at redemption towards the end of the novel, but it doesn't change my perception of this dreadfully stupid character.

Luke's storyline is somewhere in the middle. Sent on diplomatic mission to the world of Jazbina, his stay quickly takes a turn for the worst. Blinded and imprisoned, Luke spends much of the comic in a somewhat helpless state. The politics and Rebel movement on Jazbina also leaves a bit to be desired; none of the original characters feel interesting, and the movement itself is very poorly constructed. Luke's plotline doesn't really amount to much, but it is better than Jal's, if nothing else.

Overall, Darth Vader's segments had plenty of promise, but throwing in the extra two sub plots were a bad idea. Not only is this too much story for a comic that has less than 100 pages, the plotlines themselves leave much to be desired.

Art

Art in Vader's Quest is a mixed bag. There are plenty of new ideas and design concepts at work, but some of them are underwhelming to say the least, and derivative designs further hurt the success of the comic.

Mala Mala is the best concept to emerge from Vader's Quest
Firstly, Vader actually looks great. the artists do a great job of coaxing emotion out of Vader's expressionless helmet. I also liked the design of Mala Mala, a crippled informant that relies on a droid apparatus for mobility and combat. Though she didn't factor heavily into the story, this was still an interesting concept. I also liked the design of the world of Dubrava. It definitely captures the spirit of a backwater hellhole very adeptly.


Bobek, Alliance recruit
 The bad designs are unfortunately myriad. Bobek, the recruit that Jal mistreats, looks EXACTLY like an alien version of Luke. Maybe this is why Jal is so cruel to him, but the character looks extremely weird. The green skin, and lack of nose/ears clashes too sharply with the blond hair for my tastes. The alien race on Jazbina is also poorly drawn. Firstly, their architecture closely resembles Indian or Middle Eastern. While I have no problem with that style, such an obvious inspiration from the real world takes me out of the Star Wars universe. Also, the people themselves look like cubs with elven ears and human hair. They look really awful, and their poor design is a big reason why the portions of the book on Jazbina are ineffective and uninteresting.

An example of both the architecture and people of Jazbina.
Overall, too many poor concepts and not enough great execution (there are only a few examples of truly great art work in this book, mostly taking place during Jal's horrible plotline) keep the art from being what it had the potential to be. The penciling and colors remain competent throughout, but the lack of exciting moments or truly awe inspiring execution earn it only average marks.

Conclusion

Something of a study in lost potential, Vader's Quest is badly hurt by a completely nonsensical plotline, and artwork that is derivative in design, and mediocre in execution. Vader's story shows promise, but it isn't exactly the focus, and as a result I cannot recommend this comic.

Final Score

45/100

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