A pilot discovers, training is one thing, but it isn’t so easy shooting the devil in the back in Vader: Dark Visions #4.
Warning: This review contains plot points for Vader: Dark Visions #4.
Vader: Dark Visions #4
Story: Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum | Art: Stephen Mooney | Colors: Lee Loughridge | Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Cover Artist: Greg Smallwood | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia
Marvel comics demonstrated how Darth Vader’s reputation evolved over time. In Charles Soule’s Darth Vader series, the Dark Lord of the Sith began as an unknown. Imperial officers resented him. Some tried to kill him. Ultimately, Vader claimed his place as the Emperor’s enforcer in the Empire. Dennis Hallum’s Dark Visions series demonstrates how Vader’s reputation and impact is felt across the galaxy. In one instance, it caused an Imperial Officer to risk everything rather than fail Vader. Later, a lonely medical assistant became infatuated with his power and risked everything in a desperate and doomed attempt to gain his affection. Now, in Dark Visions #4, a Rebel pilot gets the chance of a lifetime to take down Darth Vader. However, Vader’s reputation and the pilot’s own fear get in the way.
Scams on the Streets of Coruscant
Dark Visions #4 is entitled “Hotshot.” Fittingly, that is the only real name the protagonist has. He doesn’t get a formal name and the other characters of the story refer to him as “man,” “kid,” etc. throughout the story. The Hotshot was raised on the streets of Coruscant running a smuggling operation with his father until his Dad died during an Imperial inspection. In some ways, he was like Han Solo. The Hotshot found himself on his own when he couldn’t pull the trigger and provide cover fire for his father’s escape. Life then eventually steered him to seeking out the Rebellion.
Similarly, Han Solo found himself on the streets of Corellia during his early life. He too escaped that life. His motivation was getting back to Corellia by becoming a pilot in the Imperial Navy. By now, Star Wars fans are well aware that he became a reluctant Rebel hero. Unlike the Hotshot though, he was a bit faster on the trigger.
Hotshot is eager to prove himself in Dark Visions #4. When a mission to take out an Imperial supply base comes around, he talks his way onto the mission. He promises his commander that he has been a Rebel all his life, and that he is no longer the little kid that was too scared to save his dad. Unfortunately, this proves not to be the case.
Initially, the assault on the Imperial depot goes well. The Rebel squadron destroys several Imperial TIE fighters and scores hits on the Imperial base. Then Darth Vader enters the battle. Having arrived at the depot to oversee upgrades to his personal TIE fighter, Vader takes to the skies and is instantly recognizable.
Upon seeing Vader, the Hotshot initially welcomes the challenge and even scores a hit on Vader’s TIE. After that Vader demonstrates why he is the best pilot in the galaxy and systematically destroys each of the Hotshot’s wing mates. Hotshot then loses his will, and even when he gets a lock on Darth Vader, self-doubt sets in and he leaves the battle.
An Old Trick
Vader pulls an old trick in Dark Visions #4. Once the Hotshot gives up his shot, Vader lets him escape. Then the Empire follows him back to his base. As Leia would say in A New Hope, his escape was too easy. Vader let him go and tracked him.
Prior to his arrival, Hotshot laments that he had the shot, but he just couldn’t take it. As Verbal Kent said in The Usual Suspects, how can you shoot the Devil in the back? What if you miss? Hotshot’s confidence evaporated and he compounded his mistakes. In hindsight, he had nothing to lose. If he had taken the shot, maybe he destroys Darth Vader. Maybe he misses, and he dies. But, he was about to die as the Empire attacked the Rebel outpost anyway.
Final Thoughts on Dark Visions #4
The Dark Visions series tells the tales about how Vader influenced the fate of those that encountered him. In Dark Visions #4, his mere reputation was enough to destroy a pilot’s confidence and doom a Rebel outpost. Vader had to do very little. The story is as much about Hotshot’s confidence, or lack thereof, as it is Vader’s influence.
Dark Visions has told four very different stories though four issues. The first was how Vader became a legend and savior to a world that came to see him as a dark knight. The next story detailed how Vader’s intolerance for failure drove an Imperial officer to desperate and ruinous measures. The previous issue told the sad tale of a lonely woman that developed a misplaced crush on Vader. Dark Visions #4 is different yet still. It is as much about the Hotshot’s failure as it is Vader’s influence.
Dennis Hallum has done well creating different types of stories that each are self-contained. Vader may feature in each story, but his actual participation varies. Regardless, these stories, along with Age of Rebellion and Age of Republic, prove the one-shot issue and story can work, and not every story requires at least four issues.
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.