Darth Vader #30: All Her Shadows
Sabe, now working directly with Darth Vader, is sent on a mission to assassinate an enemy of the Empire. As she goes about her mission the rest of the handmaidens attempt to discover her whereabouts. Dorme, disguised as Sabe, is discovered by Vader himself.
After over twenty issues of this series, readers finally get to see the handmaidens in full force. Fans of the Padme YA novels, “Queen’s Shadow,” “Queen’s Peril,” and “Queen’s Hope,” will know these characters well. Those books take place over 20 years prior to this series, but the group has stayed together. Vader discovered Sabe early on in the series and has been slowly getting her to work for him. Her discovery of his old identity has somehow protected her, whereas for anyone else it would have been an instant death. Vader clearly has a soft spot for Anakin’s wife’s double. The last issue had him seemingly willing to take on Dorme when she was discovered as well. This issue just tips the rest of the bucket and lets the final three handmaidens loose and it makes the issue great.
Typically this series makes Vader the main character and the events are shown through his perspective. This issue flips that by showing events through the final three handmaidens. There is a subplot thread in this issue involving Sabe which is from her direct perspective too. In a few preceding issues the perspective was shared by her and Vader together for a while, but with the Dark Lord remaining the central focus. That changes dramatically in this chapter. He is basically stumbled upon by the handmaidens and they just have to deal with him as part of their story. Also departing from the typical style of this series is the lack of red-tinged memories of Darth Vader. The cover certainly captures the normal style, but the issue does not. In fact there is a lot of pink present on the pages, even when Vader is there. Even his lightsaber blade seems slightly lighter. Since the Sith Lord is not the main focus of this issue, there is no need to share his memories. Those can be saved for later on.
The impact on the overall story is hard to pin down. It is certainly exciting and it is carving its own creative part, but it also feels like a detour away from the path the series has been on with subtle hints at Anakin’s return. That should be happening soon during the events of Return of the Jedi which is getting closer and closer as far as the timeframe goes. However, he seems to be connecting to these body doubles and best friends of Anakin’s wife which does also point in that direction in a very roundabout way. Sabe’s story thread in this issue also seems to be leading somewhere too, and added a bit of extra excitement to this chapter. The art is much better and more detailed that a typical issue. Ships specifically are well designed and detailed, as are costumes. Each handmaiden looks just similar, and at the same time different, from Padme and each other. That really nails the effect of them being individual body doubles for their former queen.
Sometimes the art of faces gets lost in some “Star Wars” series and “Darth Vader” itself usually involves helmeted characters, so faces aren’t that important. That can not be said about this particular issue and it is strong because of it.
It seems that if they want to find Sabe, her friends must jump into Imperial flames to do so. Powerless to do anything else for the time being, they decide to stay with the person she reports to.
Darth Vader #30: The Handmaiden Offensive
- Writing - 6/106/10
- Storyline - 6/106/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10