REVIEW: Age of Rebellion: Darth Vader: "To the Letter" by Greg Pak
After the let down that was "Vader: Dark Visions," my expectations were low going into this issue. But I should've known that Greg Pak would pull a fast one and make us question whether Lucasfilm is actually out of stories for our favorite bad guy.
Turns out, there's definitely more to tell! This was a fantastic tale, delving a bit into Palpatine and Vader's relationship and what they mean to each other, but by way of Governor Ahr.
Coaxium connection!! Love how that word is coming up more and more now since Solo. Governor Ahr, commander of a Star Destroyer above Namzor (in the Mid Rim), wants to bomb the "Rebel insurgents" down below, but they're bunkered over a store of coaxium...so of course bombing them would be catastrophic!...and it's what the Imperials were after in the first place--go figure. Despite this, Vader comes swooping in without a care in the world and destroys everything. See his awesome looking ship below that has some striking similarities to Darth Maul's Scimitar!
Then we get the title page and we see that this issue is called "To the Letter" which it turns out is the Emperor's admonition to Vader in regards to following Governor Ahr's orders. See the image below of Vader thinking back on his past as Anakin and how he was so often brought to heel by those in authority. This definitely does not sit well with him and the imagery is fabulous! We also get a synopsis paragraph asking what Vader still has to prove and what he still has to learn...all to do with his following Governor Ahr's orders "To the Letter."
After the Emperor lays down the law for Vader, the Governor makes it his mission to get the Sith Apprentice killed--and Vader is adamant about following the Emperor's orders and therefore following Ahr's orders "To the Letter." Of course, this doesn't turn out the way Ahr would expect as Vader is always successful at every mission. The situations Vader ends up in actually remind me of Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith #18: "Bad Ground" by Charles Soule in which Vader asks Tarkin to hunt him...all to no avail. I really enjoy watching Vader subvert the expectations of others.
On Ahn Krantarium (in the Mid Rim), a world over-run with powerful and vicious, self-made droids, Ahr sends Vader on a suicide-run rescue mission.
On Phelzepham (a moon in the Mid Rim), Ahr tells all troops to retreat except Vader an hour before they would've had the moon in hand.
In the Kankalo Belt Containment Zone (in the Mid Rim) Ahr sends Vader out to destroy a giant nasty hermit crab looking creature that lives in space.
Finally, at the end of the issue, we get eyes on what exactly this "lesson" was that Palpatine wanted to teach Vader. It turns out not to be the lesson one would expect and it's pretty dang powerful as is the imagery that goes along with it!
In the afterword write-up on the character, we get the thesis statement that "Love is the defining element in the life and death of Darth Vader." courtesy of Bria LaVorgna. This afterword was such an absolutely beautiful ode to my favorite character in all of Star Wars, Anakin Skywalker. Love is the definition of Anakin--it turned him to the Dark Side and subsequently brought him back to the light. No one has ever loved as much as Anakin.
So, a really great story that I'm so glad was written. I can't wait to see what's next for the Dark Lord!!
My score: 8.5/10
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