Darth Vader v.1: Imperial Machine
This was an ok start to Soule’s run on this book. Taking place immediately after Episode III (bravely, the story even kicks off with the infamous Nooooooooo scene), we see Vader growing into his new role as Palpatine’s second, including getting to grips with his armour and finding himself a lightsaber.
It’s fertile territory for a Vader story, but it also risks destroying what’s left of the character’s mystique. Happily though, Soule maintains Vader’s fearsome reputation while still allowing for some growth as a character, a decent balancing act.
There’s a fair amount of action, some good character development and even quite a lot of humour that works pretty well.
Unfortunately Giuseppe Camuncoli’s art isn’t particularly to my tastes. I found it a bit loose and cartoonish, occasionally even caricatured, which pulled me out of the story a bit. It does the job perfectly well - it’s clear and fairly consistent throughout - but the style just didn’t quite fit the story, for me.
Black Cloud v.1: No Exit
Now this is a book that provoked the opposite reaction: nice art, but not sure about the story. In fact, I’d struggle to sum it up at all, as I felt like I lost the thread of things completely a couple of times, didn’t really feel compelled to continue, and only persevered with it because there was the occasional lovely page like this.
The plot revolves around the intersection between the real world and a world of fantastical creativity, but beyond that I got fairly lost in the convoluted backstory and mythology, the solipsistic worldview of the characters, and the slightly clumsy real-world political allusions that all added up to much less than the sum of their parts.
It all looks pretty good though, with some strong design work for the book itself that helps it to stand out, and some decent artwork with occasional real highlights - as well as stuff like the above page, I also like Greg Hinkle’s creature designs.
But even so, I won’t be following this any further.