Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020-) #12

Just like last week’s issue of Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, this issue of the ongoing Darth Vader series is billed as a Prelude chapter for the all-encompassing Star Wars crossover, War of the Bounty Hunters, but feels more like a chapter in an ongoing, mostly unrelated story – mostly because that’s exactly what it is.

Having defied Emperor Palpatine and been put in his place, Darth Vader retreats to Coruscant and lick his wounds. While healing, he reflects on recent events, including the encounter with his son on Bespin – and numerous run-ins with the now frozen-in-carbonite Han Solo.

It’s a very introspective issue, which is fine; it gives us a good insight into Vader’s thoughts and state of mind following the crushing defeat at the Battle of Yavin and his failure to recruit his force-sensitive son during the events of The Empire Strikes Back. The connection to the wider crossover is only really put to use in the final few pages, however, making the issue feel somewhat underwhelming for readers jumping on board for the next part of the crossover. The billing of this as a crossover Prelude chapter does feel like a bit of a rug pull, unfortunately.

I found the art hugely variable in quality too, with some excellent general Star Wars ambience and designs but a few terrible likenesses (Harrison Ford being particularly ill-served by some awkward illustration here).

It’s a busy week for War of the Bounty Hunters, with the next promised Prelude issue also hitting shelves today in the form of Doctor Aphra #10. I’ll be covering it soon, but given how underwhelming the last few issues of the story have been, I’m not holding out much hope. With the first issue of the main series – War of the Bounty Hunters #1 – releasing next week, it’s a shame to see the great momentum built up by the first two Prelude issues squandered, but let’s hope the story begins to redeem itself – and justify its existence, given that its place in the known Star Wars timeline means that the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

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