Star Wars

SDCC 2014: Darth Vader

Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca get set to tackle one of the greatest villains of all-time!

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After the January 2015 launch of the first new Star Wars series at Marvel Comics in decades, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca will delve into the Dark Side with STAR WARS: DARTH VADER, an ongoing series beginning in February.

Darth Vader’s known as one of the greatest villains of all time, but in this series Gillen and Larroca explore not only the Dark Lord of the Sith’s action following the destruction of the first Death Star, but also the toll on the man behind the mask.

Marvel.com: Kieron, how did you get involved with the series? What’s it like to be working with a character the caliber of Darth Vader? 

Kieron Gillen: I picked up the phone and it was magnificent Marvel ukulele king Jordan D. White. He asked me if I’d be interested in writing a book set in the Star Wars universe. It wasn't even 100% going to be a Vader book at that point, but the possibility was immediately intoxicating. My worry was always fitting it to my schedule, so leaving IRON MAN ensured it could. Once in a life chance and all that, y’know? I’ve wanted to write a villain-centric book ever since I’ve become a comic writer. The idea that it was with one of the greatest villains of all time is overwhelming. 

Marvel.com: Okay, then what’s your philosophy in writing a series that follows a fairly heinous villain? How do you engage the readers?  

Kieron Gillen: Put it like this: who doesn’t love “The Godfather”? 

My model for the series is “House of Cards.” A man in a position of power who is slighted and turns to tactics that he wouldn't have really considered before. In terms of engagement with the readers, it really helps that we're set in the period between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” That’s an emotionally interesting place for Vader, and I suspect many people will empathize—if somewhat darkly—with his position. 

Marvel.com: What will the coordination be like between this and Marvel’s other new Star Wars series? 

Kieron Gillen: We’re doing two books that will reward people who choose to read them both, but also work entirely by themselves. The different perceptions will say a lot. To the [characters] in STAR WARS, Vader is this inescapable force who is almost beyond their comprehension. To Vader, chasing them is what he does on Tuesday, and he’s got a world of pain to deal with in the rest of the week. 

Marvel.com: What else can you say about Vader at this point in the saga, just after “A New Hope”? Where’s his head and heart? 

Kieron Gillen: Vader’s the sole survivor of the greatest military disaster in history—and a disaster that he definitely had a hand in by letting the rebels escape with the plans for the Death Star. This is not a thing which leaves you in anybody’s good books, let alone the Emperor’s. But along with that, there’s these nagging sensations. Why did Obi Wan return from hiding after all these years? What about that nagging sensation about that fighter pilot who was suspiciously strong in the Force? What else is going on? 

The great thing about this period is what we don’t see on the screen. Vader learns who Luke Skywalker is at some point between the two movies, to choose but one example. There is a lot of genuine emotional meat on the bone. 

Marvel.com: What will be his greatest personal challenge after the rebel’s victory? His boss? His subordinates? His enemies? 

Kieron Gillen: Recovering his status. At the end of “A New Hope,” we see the aforementioned disaster. At the start of “Empire,” he's acting as if he’s more in control than he ever was in the first film. The journey between the two—what happened? That’s the challenge. And that challenge involves everything you listed, and a whole lot more.

      Marvel.com: What other existing Star Wars characters will be featured in the book? 

      Kieron Gillen: As many as I can grab and are useful, frankly. Once in a lifetime opportunity, remember. I’m not going to waste it. Apart from the rebels as antagonists, this is a book that walks on the—ahem—the dark side of the street. One of the things in “Empire” which always fascinated with me was how Vader clearly knows the bounty hunters. He knows Boba Fett well enough to say lay off on the disintegrations. He’s clearly something of a micromanager, but there’s a pre-existing relationship with that more seedy side of life. Any character from Star Wars who fits in that particular mix is very much on my list.

      Marvel.com: What about new characters and the roles they’ll play?

      Kieron Gillen: Making up a lot of new characters is necessary for the book; Vader is such an intimidating stoic that you need to give him a cast around him that plays other roles. This involves invention. The trick is making sure they clearly are grounded in the Star Wars universe’s mythos and looks. They have to feel Star Wars. 

      Also—some fun stuff with Rebels I suspect people won’t be expecting. And droids. 

      Marvel.com: How’s it feel to be working with Salvador on this one?

      Kieron Gillen: I'll let you into a secret: the best art is always from an artist who cares intensely about what they're drawing. The magical thing about doing Star Wars is that all the artists are utterly thrilled and inspired to be spending their time in this universe. Star Wars was a formative part of all our lives. The love is clear on the page.

      Marvel.com: On that note, let’s bring him into the conversation; Salvador, why did you say “yes” to this project?

      Salvador Larroca: Since I’m a big fan of the original three films, I’m delighted to be drawing these new stories between the films. I was 12 when I was first amazed by Star Wars and I can’t wait to draw my own take on these characters. 

      Marvel.com: How would you describe your take on Darth Vader himself, then?

      Salvador Larroca: Well, I’ll be staying close to the film design, of course. I think we must focus on keeping him recognizable and close to the image we all know and remember. 

      Marvel.com: Which characters are you looking forward to drawing the most?

      Salvador Larroca: I’m a big Han Solo fan, and of Chewbacca—even my dog has his name [Laughs]—but I’m absolutely pleased with drawing the rest of the characters. These films have a very specific look in terms of the visual design, and yes, I’ll try to fit into it all. 

      Marvel.com: How is Kieron the best writer in the galaxy for this book, in your opinion?

      Salvador Larroca: I’m sure that if he’s here on the series, it’s because he’s as big a fan as I am, and being as talented as he is I’m looking forward to seeing what he writes for me! I’m sure we’re going to be a great Star Wars team! 

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