DARTH VADER #5 | Writer: Charles Soule | Penciller: Giuseppe Camuncoli | Colorist: David Curiel | Letterer: Joe Caramagna | Release Date: September 6, 2017
Last month, the first arc of the new series ended, featuring everyone’s loathsomely favorite dark lord of the sith. Darth Vader #5 is a quick issue that gets straight to the point. After brutally defeating Jedi Master Infil’a who had been taking a Barash Vow during the Clone Wars and the execution of Order 66, Darth Vader must now make his new crystal bleed the red of the sith’s lightsaber. The entire issue focuses on Vader performing this process. At the end he emerges victorious, and while nothing much else happens this action seems to be one that solidifies his acceptance of the dark side of the force.
Much of Darth Vader #5 happens in Vader’s mind, and deals with his struggle against the light side. With very little dialogue, Soule brings to light the gravity of the power of both sides of the force. You’d think after killing younglings, Jedi, and most recently, an entire town of innocent people - that there would be no turning back from that. But with the crystal playing the role of a living beacon of light, Vader, or perhaps more aptly in this situation, Anakin fights against the urge to turn away, even after all of the dark deeds he’d done.
Kyber crystals have been a major theme of Star Wars as of late. In Rogue One, and Catalyst, the book preceding it, we find that Kyber crystals are very powerful, living objects, bathed in the power of the force. So powerful in fact, that it is the source of the power of the Death Star’s ultimate weapon. Based on Darth Vader #5, it seems that their default state is to thrive in the power of the light side, but it is the duty of a sith to break that connection and bleed it with the dark side of the force. Only then will it turn that maleficent crimson.
The task proves daunting, however, as the power of the light side seems to bring Anakin to the precipice of turning sides once more. I’d like to note the fact that the Emperor also forced him to bleed his crystal on Mustafar, the planet where he fell to Obi-Wan and became the half machine that he is now, and a planet bathed in the dark side. Even with the veil of darkness, and all of Vader’s hate and pain, he struggled against the cyrstal’s power. Still, knowing that he has nothing to turn back to. Knowing that all had been lost, Darth Vader overcame and created his red blade.
When I turned the first pages of the book, I had to check back to make sure that the artist was the same, because I briefly thought it had changed. I found that the difference was the odd look in the drawing of Darth Sidious. Something in his face didn’t like quite like him. However, as I continued on the rest of the art was the same familiar pencil work that I’ve come to love in this series. I also must note Curiel’s colors, vibrant and beautiful as always. And I can’t forget about the cover. I think this is my favorite so far in this run. The detail of the closeup, and behind the cracked eye of Vader’s visor. Stunning! The wide look in the eye gives the dark lord an ounce of humanity, despite the evil behind it.
Darth Vader #5 felt much shorter than I would’ve liked. It was 19 pages where the average issue is 22-24. Still, I can understand why it is so short, as we still get a full story and what needed to be accomplished, was. Soule brings a focused lens over Vader’s complex character and it’s delightful to read even if a little short. I highly recommend this series and am looking forward to Darth Vader #6!