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GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: FTN reviews Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows

July 18th, 2014 by Dave Bowling Comments

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows
Writer: Tim Siedell
Artist: Gabriel Guzman
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Clones. They’re easily replaced, millions of them are grown on Kamino every day. At least that was the attitude of some of the Jedi during the Clone War.

Hock Malsuum is not your average clone. Well, he was once. In battle during the War, he was hit and fell from his assault transport over the Malsuum Expanse, an enormous wasteland on a nameless backwater planet. Surviving despite the odds, he nursed a vendetta against the Jedi when his commanders never bothered to come back for him. Taking the name Hock and his surname from where he was abandoned, he eventually fell in with a farmer who treated his wounds and gave him shelter. After a couple of years, with the War well and truly over, Hock began to hear stories of a truly great warrior, one who nursed a hatred of the Jedi who survived Order 66 that maybe even surpassed his own. This warrior was called Darth Vader and Hock decided to reenlist in the Imperial Army to fight beside this truly great man as he rounds up the last remnants of the Jedi Order and brings true order to the galaxy.

Cry of Shadows is not your average Star Wars comic. Hock’s story sees him take a personal journey while in the shadow of the franchise’s most enduring character. We see him go from aggrieved clone to master of his own destiny. He seeks out Vader as a supposedly mighty warrior and kindred spirit, only to find that the man’s corruption by the Dark Side had left him a brutally sadistic murderer.

Artist Gabriel Guzman (Cable, Star Wars: Dark Times) and colourist Michael Atiyeh (Batman, The Flash) bring the Star Wars universe and its multitude of worlds vividly to life here. But it is writer Tim Siedell (Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin) who is the star here. His script drives this story forward, giving us a view of a period of galactic chaos, where the once Grand Army of the Republic becomes a band of unmotivated recruits incapable of hitting the broad side of a barn and a former Jedi Knight cuts a bloody swath across the galaxy for no reason beyond, he can.

All told, this is a graphic novel that is definitely worth a look, if only for one chief reason: it shows the evolution of the Imperial Army from an elite force of clones to barely trained raw recruits who can’t hit Harrison Ford when he’s running in a straight line. Hock mentions at one point that he foresees a future where there are so few clones in the army that they will be incapable of hitting anything. That really made me laugh, finally an explanation!

4 out of 5 nerds



Dave was born at an early age to parents of both sexes. He has been a self-confessed geek for as long as he can remember, having been raised through the 80s on a steady diet of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Red Dwarf and (sigh) Knight Rider. Throw the usual assortment of Saturday morning cartoons into the mix and we have something quite exceptional: someone with an encyclopaedic knowledge of utter tosh; a love of giant robots and spaceships fighting; and the strange desire to leap tall buildings in a single bound while wearing his underpants over his trousers. The death ray is currently in the works and one day you shall all bow to him, his giant space station and fleet of funky orange space shuttles...