REVIEW: STAR WARS – DARTH VADER AND THE CRY OF SHADOWS / AUTHOR: TIM SIEDELL / ARTIST : GABRIEL GUZMAN, MICHAEL ATIYEH, FELIPE MASSAFERA / PUBLISHER: DARK HORSE / RELEASE DATE: JULY 15TH
Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows is told from the perspective of Hock, a clone trooper who possesses enough self-awareness and willpower to make himself unique amongst his brethren; quite an impressive feat for one clone amongst many. Lord Vader’s name may be on the title, but this is mostly Hock’s story.
Hock bears a grudge against the Jedi and, though the Clone Wars are over, he joins up as a Storm Trooper in order to assist in rooting out the rebels. Hock’s opinion of his fellow Storm Troopers (who are not all clones) is wry and clever and it leaves the reader wanting to see more Storm Trooper action. Sadly the character isn’t given much of an opportunity to grow, making it hard to empathise with him. Different from all the other clones he may be, but he is still very much a blank slate. What makes this frustrating is that his adventures see him meet all sorts of interesting rebels, but he does not hang around long enough for the reader to get to know any of them.
Darth Vader himself is presented as a brooding menace. Siedell clearly understands that less is more when it comes to this particular Sith Lord and has done much to repair the damage caused by the prequels to this villain’s scary rep. Vader spends most of his time during the story saying very little and acting both brutally and swiftly which are the traits that made us like the character in the first place.
The art is appropriately cinematic, as you would expect from a Star Wars book and looks very nice. Vader is especially menacing and the scenes that riff on the idea that Hock is a clone work well and are visually striking. It’s simply a pity that the pace is too fast and the characterisation too light. As a result, Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows does not stand out from the plethora of other Star Wars stories out there, though Vader fans will get a kick out of their hero being the badass monster he’s meant to be.