Deadshirt is Reading: Vader Down and Secret Wars Too!

Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more. For more of our thoughts on this week’s new comics, take a look at Wednesday’s Deadshirt Comics Shopping List.

Max Robinson is reading…

vaderdVader Down #1

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by Mike Deodato

Colored by Laura Martin


“I repeat, Darth Vader has been shot down on Vrogas Vas.”

Boy, talk about the best possible comic to come out the week EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront drops. Vader Down is the first “event” crossover between Marvel’s main line Star Wars book and the solo Darth Vader title, and the premise behind it is, like, too good: Vader accidentally runs afoul of three rebel X-wing squadrons while searching for Luke Skywalker and is forced to crash land on the planet Vrogas Vas with the full force of the Rebellion on his heels (Vader’s sidekick Poochie space archaeologist Dr. Aphra also heads into the fray by the end of the issue). This is a really cool idea because, hey, when has Vader ever been the ragged underdog in a Star Wars story?  Admittedly, an all-powerful underdog who can throw rubble with his mind but, still, an underdog.

Aaron and Deodato do a great job setting up Vader Down with this one-shot. Everything about the issue feels like pure, unleaded Star Wars: from Vader’s brutal, surgical slaughter of the brave, doomed X-Wing pilots on maneuvers to Luke’s suitably scrappy attack on Vader’s ship (by crashing the fuck into it). If you like comics where Darth Vader just utterly destroys a lot of people, this is for you. At the same time, Aaron’s script gives us some nice little character moments that feel completely in line with the tone of the original films: in particular, Leia’s vaguely Ahab-esque mad-on for the Empire’s top enforcer and Han’s total incredulity at her plan to take him out. “You mean as in Darth Vader? As in that guy who’s almost killed us every time we’ve ever come near him?” I’m not the world’s biggest Deodato fan, but his pages here, with Laura Martin’s always terrific color palette, really look great. He kills the issue’s action sequences, and his actor likenesses look on point without dipping into obvious Greg Land lightbox tracing. I especially dug the sequence of Luke walking past the ruins of a former Jedi temple, which has a quiet, thoughtful dignity to it you don’t often see in Star Wars comics. Vader Down, which might as well be called Get Vader, is off to a great start, and I’m pumped to watch this intergalactic manhunt inevitably run off the rails.

Joe Stando is reading…

scwarstooSecret Wars Too #1

Written by Jonathan Hickman, Al Ewing, Kate Leth, Kyle Starks, Rob Guillory, Ryan Browne, and Eric Powell

Art by Brian Churilla and Tamra Bonvillain (colors); Jacopo Camagni and Jesus Aburtov (colors); Brittney L. Williams and Megan M. Wilson (colors); Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain (colors); Rob Guillory, Ryan Browne, and Eric Powell, Lettered by Travis Lanham


“I don’t have an ending!”

Secret Wars Too is a satirical anthology follow-up to the Secret Wars book, a bunch of creators riffing on the premise of the series and blowing off steam now that it’s over. The problem is, with delays and extra issues and the debut of the All-New, All-Different line, Secret Wars still isn’t over, and so this book is in kind of a weird in-between zone. I don’t know if I would’ve liked it more or less after the fact, but as it is, it was a pretty fun showcase of a lot of different talents, styles, and most of all, varied senses of humor.

Maybe my favorite part was Hickman’s story, an autobiographical short about being stressed over not having an ending to his story, where he also hangs out with Doctor Doom in Times Square. It’s funny and meta, and I’d honestly love to see some more stuff like this out of Hickman (sorta like Airboy but without…being Airboy). The other pick of the book is easily the Kyle Starks/Ramon Villalobos D-Man short, which works so well because the team gets the character so completely. Villalobos imbues him with a pure, dumb joy, and Starks writes him as a punchline but with a loving hand, so you can’t help but root for him. A strong outing from two guys who should be running Marvel in a few years.

The rest of the book is a little uneven, but there’s tons of good stuff here. The variety of tone in fun, from a cute story by Kate Leth to a snarky one by Rob Guillory to a flat-out insane one by Al Ewing. Ryan Browne’s story didn’t always land for me, but the beat with Foggy Nelson and then a bear version of Foggy Nelson was laugh-out-loud funny. Eric Powell’s comic includes Hulk and Black Panther in the punchline, so we get to see the creator of GOON draw the Hulk, which is almost worth the price of admission by itself. And the cover, a Chip Zdarsky yearbook photo of a permed Victor Von Doom, is my new white whale in terms of original art ownership. All in all, it’s a fun outing by some fun folks, and a nice wrap-up to an event that’s been the topic of conversation for almost a year, for better or worse.

Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!

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