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Star Wars: Darth Vader (2015)

Star Wars: Darth Vader, Vol. 2: Shadows and Secrets

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Bounty Hunters on the attack--against the Empire! Vader has a new mission to do for the Empire. Unfortunately, it's completely at odds with his own mission. What's a Dark Lord to do? Plus: Who is Tagge's mysterious new agent?

COLLECTING: Darth Vader #7-12.

136 pages, Paperback

First published January 5, 2016

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About the author

Kieron Gillen

1,601 books1,733 followers
Kieron Gillen is a comic book writer and former media journalist.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 607 reviews
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,129 reviews3,552 followers
February 8, 2016
Darth Vader’s secret schemes continue!

I got this storyarc on its single comic book issues but I chose to make the review using this TPB edition to make a better overall review. The story is set after the events of “Star Wars IV: A New Hope” but before the events of “Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back”. This TPB edition contains from the title of “Star Wars: Darth Vader” #7-12 in its new Marvel Canonic run.

Creative Team:

Writer: Keiron Gillen

Illustrator: Salvador Larroca


Darth Vader reluctantly goes to Tatooine, along with his secret squad: Dr. Aphra (rogue arqueologist and droid expert), 0-0-0 (Triple Zero) (a protocol droid who enjoys to torture) and BT-1 (Blastomech with a deceptive look of astromech).

Vader is looking for any clue of the son that he didn’t know that he has. It’s interesting that while it has been much discused about how clumsy was to take Luke to Anakin Skywalker’s native world, but Vader’s comments here left a confirmation that he considered clever that Kenobi taken his son there, since he never thought to return to that abhorred planet.

Vader checked the Lars farm but without finding anything of value for him. Aphra’s comments establishes that indeed Stormtroopers were the responsibles for the attack there but hiding their traces just like the Jawas’ ambush.

Finally, Vader goes to Kenobi’s home, where after an analysis of the marks left of the battle between Luke and Bobba Fett (this happened in Star Wars Vol.1 “Skywalker Strikes”), he is able to deduce that his son is strong in the Force but with very few training.

However, Vader’s trip to Tatooine doesn’t help him to be anywhere closer to his son.


Darth Vader’s secret plans aren’t any cheap to develop, so he needs to get a proper money supply and after an Imperial confiscation of a crime lord’s funds, an opportunity rises.

Dr. Aphra counts with Triple Zero and BT-1, but a heist against an Imperial light cruiser, specially a heist planned to look like an accident and not a robbery, requires more muscle.

So, Aphra got in her plans four bounty hunters: the known Bossk & IG-90, along with Black Krrsantan (a Wookie of dark fur) and Beebox (that looks just like a Bobba Fett Mini-Me, but with a different color palette in his armor).

While successful, Grand General Tagge (Imperial Starfleet’s Commander-in-Chief) suspects that it wasn’t an accident at all, and he wants the money back, since he already budgeted the confiscated money to finance the construction of yet another Super Star Destroyer (he is convinced (and I agree) that it’s wiser to construct a fleet of Super Star Destroyers than concentrate the Imperial resources into just one battlestation (aka Death Star)).


Amusing enough (while it’s very likely that Vader doesn’t finding any amusing at all!), Vader is ordered to find the culprits of the Imperial ship’s heist, and surely that couldn’t be any cause of stress, but…

…Vader gets a new aide…

…Inspector Thanoth.

An old man, clever and observant (think in a merging of Morgan Freeman and Sherlock Holmes) but most disturbing (at least for Vader’s secret schemes) he is totally loyal to the Empire.

Yep, this will prove to be complicated.

Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
March 17, 2016




I scared you didn’t I?

I can’t stop laughing at this guy. He actually thinks that he is going to kill Lord Vader and become the new dark power in the galaxy. Seriously though, this is pathetic. I mean fair enough on a character level he may be delusional, but I feel like in terms of the plot, this guy is actually being set up as Vader’s nemesis. I mean come on. Look at him. Look at him. In what world could this weird amalgamation of Admiral Akbar and General Grievous actually have a chance against Vader? It’s just ridiculous. It’s like setting up a wrestling match between Chewbacca and Ja Ja Binks. It could only go one way. You're picturing that now aren't you?

Vader is far beyond such a contraption. The rest of the imperial enforcers are just as bad. Two are androids that think there are Jedi Knights. Vader will cut them down. Another is a tactical genius with a weird shaped head. Great description I know. Vader will force suffocate the life out of that fool in seconds. And the Grievous thing, the mon-calamari android, will just crumble before the might of Darth Vader. The situation is plausible, but these rivals could actually be threatening; they could actually have potential to slay Vader, that way the comic would be a little more intense because these guys are morons.

The main drive of this story is Vader’s hunt for Skywalker. He has just realised that he is his son, which gives him another reason to hate his master. So, Vader��s on his own; he is forced to us his own recourses and find his own allies. His personality isn’t going to win anyone over, so he uses his only tool: power to induce fear. He’s bound a young doctor his cause, which will, no doubt, eventually end in her demise. I wouldn’t trust Vader. I wouldn’t go within a mile of him.

This wasn’t as good as the first volume; it lacked the drive and focus of its predecessor. Most of the side characters are terrible, though there is an interesting imperial investigator assigned to Vader. He might make it to the end of this series, hopefully. Most imperials are just cannon fodder so he has a good chance of survival. I’m hoping the story picks up again and that these ridiculous rivals to Vader are killed off soon. Otherwise I may not read too far into this series.

Vader Comics
1. Vader- A dark four stars
2. Shadows and Secrets- A weak two stars

Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,828 followers
July 14, 2016
It’s hard out here for a Sith Lord…

Like the other current Marvel Star Wars titles this is set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Darth Vader is on the Emperor’s shit list for the destruction of the Death Star. Vader now has to answer to another Imperial officer, and the Emperor has been grooming a group of dangerous candidates to be his potential replacement someday. Now Vader has discovered that the Force-strong pilot who blew up the Death Star real good is named Skywalker which isn’t something he wants to advertise just yet so he’s been running his own covert operations to find Luke with the help of Dr. Aphra and her murderous droids.

I was questioning exactly what kind of stories you could do with Vader that wouldn’t either contradict what we know or be useless fluff, but this title has found a lot of interesting angles. The idea that Vader has been trying to discover the identity of the rebel pilot only to learn that it was the son he didn’t know he had has filled a story gap. I also like that he's essentially operating as a double agent because he’s pursuing his own agenda instead of the Empire’s and has to conceal his actions because it still lets him be a murderous bad guy while giving him a goal that we can at least sympathize with and builds some tension with him working both with and against the people around him.

Aphra is a great character as the rogue criminal more than willing to do all kinds of illegal things in service to Vader and showing him loyalty even as she recognizes that he’ll more than likely kill her someday. BT-1 and 0-0-0 also continue to be a lot of fun as the bad guy versions of R2-D2 and C-3P0. I just wish they could find a way to give them goatees to really signify that they're evil.

This is a solid tie-in story that has even found a way to work in some of prequel stuff and not make it suck.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,486 reviews12.8k followers
May 4, 2016
May The 4th Be With You!

What is it with Kieron Gillen and armoured characters? After thoroughly trashing Iron Man with his (overlong) run, he’s now doing the same with Darth Vader - someone stop him!

Vader now knows Luke is his son who is on the path to becoming a Jedi - but doesn’t do a whole helluva lot with that knowledge (and can’t because of the big confrontation that takes place in Empire and this is set between A New Hope and Empire). Nevertheless he continues his clandestine plans of building his own droid army, which he needs for some reason, by ripping off the Empire through Aphra, the woman on the cover. He takes out a mob leader, sends all the cash on a poorly defended ship and has Aphra and a crew of bounty hunters attack and loot the ship, taking a chunk of the plunder back to Vader’s hideout.

The problem with this story is how thin it feels stretched out over six issues and it’s not that interesting to start with. It also seems like a really small, piddling story for a character like Vader - he should be above this wheeling and dealing with petty thieves. Oh, and remember that dull subplot from the first book where Vader was assigned an auditor whom he “dealt with” permanently? Gillen trots it out again in the form of an inspector who threatens to reveal Vader’s hidden activities and it’s still not any more compelling the second time around.

I really don’t like Aphra, the annoying “spunky” female character who’s basically the main character, and that irritates me more - Vader’s a supporting character in his own book! I picked this up to read about him, not some idiot called Aphra! I also hate the evil Artoo and Threepio, those derivative clowns. Ugh, and why not visit Naboo to remind everyone of the awful Prequels? Pass the vomit bucket…

Salvador Larroca’s art continues to be the highlight of this series with his clean lines and imaginative eye for creative angles. The use of wide panels to simulate a cinematic look continues to be effective and Edgar Delgado’s colours are utterly beautiful. Larroca and Delgado make this feel like a real Star Wars story even if Gillen’s hamfisted script doesn’t. The Ghost-Face alien character design though was pretty terrible.

Darth Vader should be one of the best titles on Marvel’s publishing schedule but I don’t think it will be until they boot Kieron Gillen off it. He rarely manages to produce great comics and he’s definitely failing with his lacklustre, uninspired take on Vader. This second volume is boring and irrelevant - the Dark Lord of the Sith deserves better!
Profile Image for Calista.
3,885 reviews31.2k followers
September 22, 2018
I read the omnibus edition and I didn't realize this would be a duplicate. I am enjoying this new series.

Psychopathic robots in Triple zero and BeeTee are the comic relief. I mean, if they were real, they would be horrifying, but listening to them go on about the joys of torture is some dark humor.

Luke has blown up the Death Star and he is being hunted by many people in the galaxy including Vader. He wants the truth about is this his son or not. I enjoy the new characters and this would make a great TV show.

Great art, good action and it's fun.
Profile Image for Chad.
7,734 reviews869 followers
February 1, 2021
Star Wars at its best. In this volume, Vader is saddled with a new inquisitor that he has to do an end run around to keep him from finding out that Vader is behind the crime they are investigating.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,947 reviews3,405 followers
July 2, 2017
Another great volume about Darth Vader, bad-guy supreme!

In this volume we get more of Vader's chase for the location of his son. We also get more of the cat-and-mouse game that had already started in book #1. There are some rivals pitted against Vader by Palpatine - though I'm not sure why because I can't imagine Palpatine actually thinking they could ever replace someone like Vader. Moreover, the human general is still Vader's boss, strictly speaking, and pairing him up with yet another adjutant. This time, it's an old guy with a walking stick and the mind of Sherlock Holmes which makes for a good threat (it's not clear yet if Vader knows how dangerous the guy is).
Add to that the race against time for Vader to cover his tracks (the side quest to confirm Luke's existance, getting money to fund the operation, and the actual hunt for the boy).

All in all, this was not quite as enjoyable as the first, at least not story-wise. It's the old problem of the 2nd volume in a trilogy. Thus, the plot was hopping around the galaxy wildly, but the characters made up for that. Vader is brilliant as ever and I'm really happy that he got the attention he deserves. However, I think my new favourite is a certain droid:

I mean, he is my spirit animal, is he not?! *grins evilly*

Though I will probably never read all the Star Wars comics out there, I'm immensely happy to be reading the ones about Vader himself as they are great fun, thrilling and intelligently written.
Profile Image for Sesana.
5,194 reviews345 followers
January 22, 2016
Still really solid. This story kind of dragged on a bit towards the end, but it was still more than interesting enough to keep the pages turning. I'm still unconvinced about this Aphra character. I really like her and her murder droids, but I still don't feel like she really belongs in the Darth Vader comic. Now, give Aphra her own book, or make her a supporting character in one of the other Star Wars comics, and I'm all for that. But especially in this volume, when she and Vader are very rarely in the same scene, she just doesn't totally mesh with the concept of a Vader centric book. But the heist and the investigation scenes are handled very well, and I'm interested to see where this is going.
Profile Image for Subham.
2,560 reviews59 followers
October 20, 2022
This was a fun volume and yeah may seem boring inn the middle but still good like we have Aphra and the robot companions finding the info on where Luke is and well Vader and the empire's lackeys also doing it, so its upto Vader to sort of mislead them as he wants the boy for himself, his new overseer "Thanoth" is sort of challenging but easily manipulative and as we see the overlap of these two and what Vader does to Aphra and her learning how she is alive because of Vader's whims and all is exciting and like brings the much needed tension in the book and its interesting, also someone named "Karbin" after him and this looks like it will be an interesting battle!

So yeah a good read this one and I will recommend it for sure, also loving the focus on Aphra and next up is Vader down which is one of the best crossover stories!
Profile Image for Gianfranco Mancini.
2,198 reviews754 followers
January 9, 2018

Maybe this volume is just as not good as previous one, storyline is essentially an "heist movie" in Star Wars universe, evil versions of fan favourite characters popping out of nowhere more and more start being too much cheesy and ridicolous (but for Triple 0 and Bt-1 that I just love!), but I'm still liking very much how Gillen totally nailed Vader's character and a few of his moments and scenes here depicted are just some of his best ones ever.
Aphra and Thanoth (imagine Sherlock Holmes played by Morgan Freeman)are great characters too and Larroca's artworks are just over the top.

Profile Image for Paul.
2,308 reviews20 followers
May 12, 2016
While I still really enjoyed this book (the artwork is amazing and Gillen really nails Vader's 'voice'), I didn't get as much out of it as I did the first volume. It seemed a little meandering, as if it wasn't a story in its own right but was rather building up to something... Oh, wait! What's that on the last page? 'To be continued in 'Vader Down'?

For fuck's sake, Marvel! You're even going to start putting crossover 'events' in your Star Wars books now?

I'm going to go and have a little cry now...
370 reviews285 followers
November 18, 2016
actual rating :3.5
Vader is trying to find Luke .. without letting anyone know!
the illustrations were really good but there are things I didn't understand such as
Profile Image for A.J..
603 reviews44 followers
June 12, 2022
Another really great volume of Darth Vader comics that I found to be even better than the last. The heist issue with Doctor Aphra may be my favorite single issue from any Star Wars comics ever, it was so damn fun.

This works so well for me because even though we know things will turn out okay for Vader, there’s still so much tension regarding those around him. I had no fucking clue what the hell was going to happen to Doctor Aphra or Inspector Thannoth before reading this, and that excites me. I really want to see what happens to these characters, and I usually can’t say that about a lot of prequels, especially Star Wars ones (looking at you Rogue One).

It reminds me of Better Call Saul in a lot of ways, because in that show there are a lot of scenes with characters from Breaking Bad, so we know that they survive to get to that show, but BCS manages to build up this level of tension that just makes you ask “HOW the fuck do they get to Breaking Bad?”, and I can’t think of a lot of other prequels that make me constantly ask that. And for the characters that don’t show up in BB, you just constantly question how or why they didn’t show up later, and that’s what it’s like for Aphra and Thannoth. I don’t think this Vader comic is as strong of a prequel as BCS is, but it’s still a damn impressive one, because I am constantly asking myself what will happen to these new characters and how exactly will Vader get to where he is by ESB. Like we already know where he will be by the end of this run: Leading the Executor in the search for Luke Skywalker, but that doesn’t take away any of the tension, which I really have to applaud Gillen for, because that just isn’t an easy task at all.

Really enjoying this run, and I’m glad I started getting more into Star Wars comics, I’m having a ton of fun with them.
Profile Image for Jerry.
4,641 reviews56 followers
June 28, 2021
More fun space opera comics from Marvel. Seriously, all Star Wars fans should check these volumes out.
Profile Image for Lashaan Balasingam.
1,361 reviews4,621 followers
December 25, 2020
This story-arc further explores Darth Vader and Aphra's alliance as their interests diverge and converge in unexpected ways. Each of their missions sends them in different directions until they crash and collide, forcing them to renew their pact and come to terms with a new objective. There's a lot of things happening behind the backs of everyone but it is fascinating to watch Vader find himself in a not-so-Alpha position and having to dupe his way into getting things done the way he wants them to. It remains to be seen if the story's direction is worth all this trouble.

Yours truly,

Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer
Official blog: https://bookidote.com/
Profile Image for Matthew.
501 reviews17 followers
June 28, 2016
To check out all my reviews: http://dancinginth3dark.blogspot.com

Disclaimer: I read the individual comics.

When it comes to Star Wars comics, I believe Vader is by far one of the best that Marvel has produced and while it maintain a level of authenticity and kept my captivation I felt like this volume showcased a wimpy version of this mysterious and evil Vader that we have come to love and appreciate. With the events of the previous volume, we learn that Vader knows that Luke Skywalker is the one who destroyed the Death Star and is his biological son. He had already known from his encounter with Luke in the Star Wars comics but the wonderful Boba Fett confirmed it.

With this huge information Vader has learned that the Emperor lied to him when he told Vader that Padme had died and so was his unborn children which begins the process of how to destroy the Emperor and Vader needs Luke to come to the Dark side in order to succeed his wish of ruling the Galactic Empire. With that ending we get the introduction into this new volume with Vader making a visit to Tatooine to learn more about Luke and Obi-Wan.

What I loved about this part is in a way Vader is retracing his steps of the past with his relations to Tatooine and he learns a lot about Luke with his lack of Jedi training, his anger to the Empire, and practically Vader killed Luke's aunt and uncle. If it weren't for that mistake Luke would have never left home and seek revenge especially after Obi-Wan Kenobi death. Revenge is one hell of a motivator and Vader couldn't agree more.

Vader's crew which consist of Aphra, 0-0-0, and BT-1 are still doing top secret missions for their master and I love the relationship between Vader and his crew particularly with Aphra. I have feeling in the end she is going to be killed by Vader in order to keep Vader's plan a secret. What I love about her character is because she worships Vader and praises him we see that she is practically the first female to be in his constant presence after Padme and we may see his vulnerability the longer she remains by his side.

Since Vader is working with the Hutts and doing illegal missions that the Empire doesn't know it comes to bite him in the ass with Tagge assigning a new lieutenant to monitor Vader's activities, and with the discovery of this abomination crew of robots who yield lightsabers they are hired to attend to missions of these illegal activities that are happening in Outer Rim.

Pretty much with these descriptions the whole volume becomes this whole circus chase of the Empire trying to find Aphra and her crew while Vader has to carefully maneuver everything in order not to get caught and be successful with his secret plans. By having this drama it portrayed Vader being anxious and to me personally Vader should never be anxious especially over pity drama like in this volume. I can understand being anxious over Luke being strong with the Force or Palpatine grooming someone who can replace Vader but not about illegal activities in order to fund his operations.

In the end I know that this is all gearing up to the epic Vader Down crossover and I am excited for all that jazz. I believe this still gets all the stars for the illustrations, the storytelling, and we get prequel reference in the volume which was wonderful and refreshing to remind many people that the prequels did exist and has an influence to everything of Star Wars.
Profile Image for Andrew.
736 reviews17 followers
October 11, 2017
I still hate Larroca's artwork, and parts of the "Vader investigates himself" plot are silly, but Gillen is making the most of his exploration of the odd corners of the Star Wars universe, and his original character Dr. Aphra is more interesting than any of the characters in any of the new Star Wars movies. Plus, the evil version of C-3PO still makes me laugh every time.
August 1, 2020
I'm having a bit of a love-hate relationship with these Vader comics. Maybe it's the fact that these stories are more plot- than character-driven, like Skywalker Strikes. The concepts in this series are strange.

I didn't say it in my review of Vader, but murderous R2 and 3PO are a bit odd. I suppose there're a bit of a hit or miss for readers.

I found Vader to be more in character here than he was in book 1. He wasn't depending on other people and he was furthering his own agenda. I did like the ending though, and seeing where the book was leading.

3.75/5 stars.
Profile Image for Donovan.
697 reviews67 followers
April 11, 2016
Hmm.... I didn't like this as much as Volume 1. In Volume 1, Vader was trying to prove himself to Palpatine following his failure with the Death Star blowing up and the rebels getting away, he was nostalgic, he was heartbroken over Padme, he was powerful but exhibiting self-doubt. It was a humanistic portrayal meanwhile Vader searched for "the missing pilot" with Doctor Aphra, and he had suspicions of the pilot's importance and connection to the Force, i.e. Luke his son. This is nothing like Volume 1.

The plot got a little fuzzy for me. What I got was Vader running bitch errands for General Tagge, whom Palpatine has chosen to run things. Vader plans this giant robbery with Aphra to double cross the Empire and fund his own army. Then he is looking for Luke, going from snitch to snitch gathering information. I feel like the "looking for Luke" schtick too often dominates the story in Star Wars. So what we basically have here is Vader playing the Empire on two sides, gaining their trust and respect while stealing from and lying to them, and looking for Luke. While I enjoy the psychology behind the search for his son, I've just seen too much of that storyline from the movies. I also felt that Vader working behind the Empire's back was a huge convenience in plot, and perhaps out of character. I don't recall Vader having doubts about the Empire, let alone scheming against them. And his liaison or whatever, Inspector Thanton, is supposed to be an expert at detection and mystery, but at the end when Aphra is about to be caught by the Empire, he caves to Vader's suggestion that Aphra, the thief, isn't important after all. Obviously this book is just meant to be fun and entertaining, which it was, if a bit ridiculous and hard to believe.
Profile Image for Matt Quann.
630 reviews382 followers
March 8, 2016
Unfortunately, the second collection (issues #7-12) of Darth Vader don't live up to the excitement promised by the first instalment. Gillen continues to be a good fit for the most famous Sith of them all, but he spends a great deal of his time with Vader's supporting cast. This is not to say that they aren't interesting, it's just that I expected a lot more Sith-ing and less intrigue in this volume.

Though the story in this one wasn't incredible, it is really the art that drags this book through the mud in some panels. Even though Larocca does a fairly decent job with the more angular, non-organic material, his face work always leaves me wondering what I am supposed to take from a character's expression. Though he does have a good handle on some of the action, I can't say that he's the best fit for this series. This is especially noticeable after finishing volume 2 of Star Wars, which contains excellent work from Stuart Immonen.

I also don't particularly care for Vader having to sneak around under the pretence that he will be scolded if caught for endorsing piracy. Though I believe in the long-run that some of these slow-burning rivalries with the Emperor's protégées will pay dividends, it seems a bit silly to think that one of the most powerful villains in the Star Wars universe is tip-toeing around bureaucracy. I'll definitely be sticking around for another volume to see if the story picks up, but I was more than a little disappointed with this collection.
Profile Image for Chris Lemmerman.
Author 7 books94 followers
January 17, 2016
Darth Vader's struggle against his master's chains continues as he tries to discover the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker before the rest of the Empire - but when his investigation (with the aid of Doctor Aphra and her murder-droids) collides with the investigation he's actually meant to be heading up, things get a little...explosive.

Circles within circles, wheels within wheels in this volume as Vader's true motives and the motives he wants to communicate to the Emperor collide; Kieron Gillen layers this story with lots of secrets and shadows, hence the title, and it takes a few issues before it all comes together, but like every good story that does this, when all the pieces are finally in place and the conclusion comes about, the true level of cleverness involved comes to light.

Once again Salvador Larroca draws all 6 issues here (that's 12 on the trot without a break, a rarity in comics these days), and once again it's exactly what the story needs; I mentioned in my review for volume 1 that Edgar Delgado is a better fit for his art than his previous colourists, and that remains true here too.

The volume ends with Vader none the wiser as to exactly how deep in trouble he is, but with Vader Down, the first Marvel crossover between the Star Wars books on the horizon, I'm sure he'll realise pretty quickly - and hell have no fury like a Sith Lord scorned.
Profile Image for Robert.
1,493 reviews102 followers
August 16, 2016
Not quite as epic as the previous volume, though we get to learn a bit more about Dr Aphra's backstory and watch Vader scheming and spinning plates in his quest to be first to a certain Tatooine-farmboy-turned-rebel-pilot whose name eludes me...
Profile Image for Lance Shadow.
229 reviews14 followers
June 5, 2016
So I found Vol. 1: Vader to be quite awesome. (review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...). It had a compelling story, some excellent new characters, and wonderful artwork. And after seeing the progress Marvel's other major comic series, Star Wars, made with Showdown on the Smuggler's Moon, I was hyped to continue this series. After an incredible first volume I was really looking forward to seeing how the story would continue and the characters would develop. After reading it though.... I was pretty dissapointed.

THE STORY: Darth Vader has figured out that the pilot who destroyed the death star and caused his fall from favor was in fact his son, Luke Skywalker. He embarks on a search for Skywalker, and
strives to make sure he gets that prize before the emperor's other minions find Luke first. Dr. Aphra continues to help him out, while also participating in a heist on the side that ultimately may leave her and Vader at odds.

THE BAD: Shadows and Secrets goes NOWHERE. By no means was it completely awful, but it was rather boring. After the first volume set up very intriguing plotlines and introduced some of my favorite canon EU characters, this one did not really do anything to build on them. I feel like it just was filler until Vader Down, which, despite the disappointment that I had after this book, I'm still eager to read.
The story threads introduced in Shadows and secrets, especially compared to Vader were not very interesting. I was really looking forward to seeing Vader go against some of the emperor's minions like Karbin or the saber wielding twins, but instead we just get throwaway filler where Vader goes after a hidden rebel cell and Aphra joins up with some bounty hunters for a heist that will get them more credits.
I was also disappointed with the way the characters were developed . Not so much Vader, he's still fine, but Aphra and Triple 0. Aphra is still good character that I am invested in but they revealed her backstory and I had a feeling that this kind of thing has been done to death. I'll hide the spoiler but honestly, it isn't anything special .
I also didn't like how they revealed Triple 0's torture methods. This was an aspect of the character that I thought should have just been left a mystery. I think its more terrifying if all you see is the close up with his red eyes and he says something before he tortures. It kept the suspense when you saw the voice bubble of the torture victim screaming from around a corner, but then the torture method was revealed... and its not that interesting now. Its kind of like how some people thought exploring the backstories of characters from the original trilogy in the prequels ruined them in a way. I think it would have worked better just by leaving the aspect of how Triple 0 tortures people unexplored, and leave it to the imagination.

THE GOOD: Well, there are some good things in this volume and it did get me excited for Vader Down.
The art is still top notch. I'm happy to see the same artists who did the first volume come back for Shadows and Secrets, and they continue to deliver. I may have been bored by what was going on but I at least had something pretty to look at. And the action, as lacking as it was in this volume, was great.
I still enjoy the characters introduced in the first volume. Vader is still portrayed well and there is still a sense of rivalry between him and the emperor's other goons. Also, Triple Zero and BT are still pretty funny, with BT getting the standout darkly comedic moment this time around.
The dynamic between Aphra and Vader did get more interesting in this collection, so even though her origins disappointed me I still saw good character development from her and she remains intriguing to follow. And the scene where she reveals her past is still done well, with the art and writing conveying some great emotion. All in all I am still eager to follow Aphra as her adventures (and conflicts) with Vader continue.
We also get introduced to a pair of pretty good side characters. We get the cunning investigator Thanoth, as well as IG 90, who really struck a cord with me. Sure he wasn't that interesting but I appreciated the homages to HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic, in which he started every sentence with something like "statement" or "query". I'm even happier that they didn't try to steal HK's thunder and rip him off by having IG 90 call organic lifeforms "meatbags". It was a nice balance.

THE VERDICT: While not terrible, this volume was quite a big step backwards from the amazing narrative launched in Vol. 1: Vader. It had some good things and I am excited for the continuation in Vader Down but Shadows and Secrets had too much filler. I'll edit my review later to tell you wither this one is worth checking out or if you are better off skipping this one and going right to Vader Down. I think the second half of this volume is ok, but Darth Vader has yet to redeem himself for more than that fiasco at the Death Star.
September 8, 2017
The only character in this compendium I found interesting was Triple-Zero, the protocol droid that specialized in torture who possessed a psychopathic personae. (can you put those two words together)?He's genuinely the only one I found fascinating, and I would love to see a graphic novel written solely about him.

The rest is...not good. The main villain who wants to usurp the power away from Darth Vader looks likes a garish amalgamation of Admiral Ackbar and General Grievous. His plans are also nonsensical and he's got less character development than Anakin in The Prequel Trilogy.

I have been rather disappointed by Star Wars comics in general. Most characters have no personality and are only used for plot convenience, and the plots themselves are often pretty boring. While I have always found the politics of Star Wars incredibly interesting and I've even done research behind it's institution, I'm starting to think the individuals who wrote these graphic novels take the politics already in Canon and keep twisting it around to fit whatever plot they're construing. I'm up for new ideas, but I also feel that there needs to be a point where the writers should do more thorough research about the characters/places/era/political affiliations and situations they're going to have a story revolve around instead of desperately pulling straws.

I will say however, that the artwork is incredibly well done, like always. Star Wars comics never fail to disappoint me in the art department. Otherwise, I really wasn't too crazy about this.
Profile Image for Jordan.
329 reviews8 followers
December 7, 2015
New Star Wars comics! No time to chat!

Still reeling from the revelation that the pilot who destroyed the Death Star is named Skywalker, Darth Vader redoubles his efforts to track him down off the books. For that, however, he's going to need funds. Staging a heist is easy. Getting away with it is less so....especially when he's partnered with a genius investigator and ordered to solve the crime at all costs! Vader is soon forced to play a deadly game, one in which his catspaw Dr. Aphra may just become a pawn to be sacrificed....

This was a lot of fun. Watching Vader scramble to work both sides of an investigation and cover his tracks was interesting, and the interlude on Tatooine was great. It makes perfect sense, of course--Vader's just learned that the boy he's hunting is named Skywalker and hails from Tatooine. The logical starting point is the Lars homestead. It's not every writer/artist team that can wring emotion from Vader's expressionless mask, but Gillen and Larocca manage it brilliantly. Unlike the first volume, this one has no tie-in with the corresponding arc of the main Star Wars series. They still happen more or less simultaneously, but separately. That will change again next time, and I look forward with great anticipation to the upcoming crossover event: Vader Down....

CONTENT: Mild profanity. Moderate violence. Little to no sexual content.
Profile Image for Alex Sarll.
5,773 reviews231 followers
November 13, 2015
Part of what I love about this series is that it reminds me how comics used to be. Vader's new supporting cast develop, he plays a dangerous game going up against the Empire on a mission of his own, we finally see the other side of the Luke/father reveal...but at the heart of it all, Vader remains Vader. His personality doesn't get flipped by a MacGuffin. His identity isn't assumed by one of his mates. Reworks and gimmicks are for the lesser characters; the really iconic* ones can stand just fine without them.

*Yes, it's an overused word these days, but here its real meaning is the one I want, and I'm damned if I'll abandon it to the shills and cretins.
Profile Image for Jordan Lahn.
332 reviews7 followers
November 23, 2015
Dr Aphra is an interesting and likeable addition to the Star Wars universe, and her interactions with Vader are skillfully handled. Hard to root for Vader when he's slaughtering Rebels, but it's fun watching him deal with corrupt Imperial elements.
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