Darth Vader #31: The Tambor Gambit
Vader has be tortured by memories of Padme for over twenty long years. His obsession has brought the Handmaidens of Padme right to him. Instead of trying to end them as a threat, he chooses to employ them instead against his enemies.
This issue starts with the same motif the entire series had used heavily in the red-colored memories of Anakin Skywalker. He remembers his last moments with Padme before his world ultimately ended. For many issues, Vader has been grooming Sabe as his argent. When the rest of the Handmaidens how up to save her, he sees a twisted opportunity to have an entire squad of Padme’s bodyguards at his disposal. Vader’s shell has been cracking since the events of The Empire Strikes Back. Hints of Anakin’s upcoming return have been seen here and there. As this memory plays out, Anakin seems sweet, loving, and inviting as he once was. This ends up having an opposite effect on the Dark Lord, where Vader formulates a plan to recreate the offer he once gave to Padme to join him in ruling the galaxy for the Handmaidens. It cannot be ignored that this memory is initially started by Anakin’s spirit and the good intentions he always had. Only once the memory turns to Padme’s betrayal does Vader step in and take it over. This is both a metaphor and something happening at the same time. Anakin and VBader are indeed fighting each other on the inside. Vader is using Anakin’s spirit and memory to drive his action, malevolent as they might be. It can be argued easily that this could be the pathway to Anakin’s ultimate return when the memories also manifest his former persona. That’s a big story to tell in just three pages, but this chapter manages it with no problems.
This chapter does a great job of reaching into the past. It draws a lot from Clone Wars because it involves fighting hundreds of battle droids and being the heir to a Separatist leader. The Handmaidens are themselves a throwback to that era and just before it. Sly Moore’s presence also stems from this time period. Of course, all the issues of this series have been doing the same through the scores of flashbacks, but this particular issue seems to hint at Anakin’s time in the Clone Wars in real-time. What plays out is a classic-style battle with tons of blaster bolts flying everywhere. All further yet subtly hints at Anakin’s return. Vader has had a lot of fights over decades that have been brutal, cunning, and full of anger. Here he almost seems to be enjoying himself like Anakin would and even seems to enjoy getting the upper hand over everyone in the issue. That plucky Jedi is still in there somewhere.
This series has been known for some great art and the typical red hue overlaying Anakin’s memories. This particular issue doesn’t ignore the usage of red, but it is also not at all deiminated by it. This chapter features more earth tones of browns and greens, with the ever-popular blue representing technology. That is just garnishing on the fabulous, highly detailed art and shading. Fabric on clothes looks realistic enough to see seams. Character expressions are clear and tight. Even the Handmaidens all look the same, with more than enough tiny differences to tell them apart immediately. Battle droids look amazingly realistic, and even some age is visible on Sly Moore’s face. The issue manages to cram in a lot of fighting, hand-to-hand, and blaster fire to create the high energy Star Wars is known for. Good art and good action make for a great issue.
Vader has left some tempting incentives for the Handmaidens to join him. However it is clear that his main goal is to convince Sabe over anyone else.
Darth Vader #31: Handmaiden Training Day
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10