The indeterminate time gaps between most Star Wars movies gives writers of tie-in fiction plenty of room to fit in adventures that take place in continuity without breaking it.

Vader Down – originally published in 2015 – is a great example of this.

Set shortly after the end of A New Hope, it sees a determined Darth Vader learning that Luke Skywalker was responsible for the shot that destroyed the Empire’s Death Star – and seeking to track him down and turn him to the dark side.

Yet he fails to realise the scale of the Rebel operations on the planet where Luke is located; shot down, Vader must escape overwhelming, seemingly impossible odds in order to survive.

We know he’ll be successful of course, given the events that follow in the movies, but this first part of the story is told satisfyingly and very cinematically, with great writing from Jason Aaron.

The art, while excellent, can be a little too obviously photo-referenced at times – there’s a Rebel Trooper who’s distractingly drawn with Nicolas Cage as the obvious reference point, for example.

However, for the most part – and certainly with the ship to ship combat as well as the general scale of the odds stacked against Vader – Mike Deodato does a great job with the art.

It’s thrilling to see Vader taking on so many opposing starfighters as well as troops, all on his own and a full year before we’d see something similar unfold in the stunning climactic scene of Star Wars prequel, Rogue One.

Despite the outcome being known for the main characters of the story, this is a fast paced thrill ride that feels like A New Hope 1.5 in terms of its style and story.

It’s a story I’ve read before, but it’s definitely one I don’t mind reading again; this opening chapter kicks the crossover off brilliantly.

If you’re a Star Wars fan and a reader of comics, you will definitely enjoy the first issue of Vader Down.

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