Tag Archives: Leinil Yu

A Darth Vader Annual #1 Review – The Dark Lord Doesn’t Dance

Darth Vader Annual #1 (2015)TITLE: Darth Vader Annual #1
AUTHOR: Kieron Gillen
PENCILLER: Leinil Yu
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: December 16, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Leinil Yu drawing Star Wars? That’s definitely worth a look. This particular issue might not be worth paying five bucks for, but it’s at leas worth a look.

Darth Vader Annual #1 deviates from the ongoing Vader Down storyline to give us a peek into the Dark Lord’s work as a political enforcer of sorts. Vader is dispatched to the volcanic planet of Shu-torun to reinforce their governments cooperation in the production of valuable ores. Little does he know he’s walking into a trap. But is it even possible to get the jump on Darth Vader?

Having Leinil Yu work on Darth Vader was a legitimate drawing factor for this issue. But surprisingly, Yu’s renderings of the titular character tend to be either misproportioned or awkward. There’s a panel where Vader is talking about the Empire “always building” where the angle of the headpiece on his mask doesn’t work. There are also several shots where Vader’s head looks too small for his body (below). It’s not a consistent thing, but it does pull you out of the issue.

Darth Vader Annual #1, Leinil Yu, 2015Despite this flaw, Yu does pretty well otherwise. I’ve always liked the sketchy manner in which he draws faces. Vader spends the issue with a young woman named Trio, and he depicts her very well.

I also find his renderings of angry old men very amusing. There’s a scene where duke demands Vader dance with his daughter at a celebration. The piss and vinegar in his face as he’s looking at Darth damn Vader is awesome. Even more awesome? When Vader levitates him 20 feet in the air and drops him. He then accents the moment with a line tailor-made for a Schwarzenegger movie: “Do any others wish to be my partner?”

Gillen remains fantastic at incorporating a very appropriate dark humor into these stories. This is embodied in Triple-Zero and BT-1. They’re perfect evil versions of C-3PO and R2-D2, to the point where I can hear Threepio’s voice when I read Triple-Zero’s dialogue. The droids tag along with Vader on this little mission to serve as a surprise of sorts to the royal family on Shu-torun. They have a lot of great little one-liners in this book. I won’t spoil them for you. But I will say my favorite involves the term “mass heart attacks!”

One might say Gillen gives us a glimpse of Anakin Skywalker in this issue. As Vader gets to know Trio, he learns about her relationship with her father, and starts to see things in her that her father doesn’t. As such, Vader offers her a little praise, including telling her that her father should appreciate her. Mind you, it doesn’t exactly end well for one of them. But that moment is still notable, considering Vader’s mindset at this point in his life.

Darth Vader Annual #1, Leinil YuThis issue does a nice job of spotlighting the key element that makes this series work: Its inverted view of the Star Wars universe. It casts Darth Vader, arguably the main villain of the entire saga, as the protagonist. Not the hero, mind you. He’s the protagonist, meaning our main character working toward accomplishing something. As such, we find ourselves rooting for Darth Vader, even though he’s often trying to do something terrible. In this story, for instance, he’s trying to impose the Empire’s will on an entire planet. And he indeed does awful things in an attempt to accomplish that goal. But we find ourselves rooting for him, even if it’s just on a subconscious level.

I’ve said something to this effect before, but it bears repeating: Darth Vader has consistently offered us the best Star Wars content Marvel has put out since they regained the license. I’m not interested in seeing anyone but Kieron Gillen write this book anytime soon. And for that matter, I missed Salvador Larroca on this issue too. They’ve got a really good thing going with this series, and I keep wanting more.

Images from author’s collection.

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An Indestructible Hulk: Agent of SHIELD Review – Fading Strength

Indestructible Hulk, Vol. 1: Agent of SHIELDTITLE: Indestructible Hulk: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
PENCILLER: Leinil Yu
COLLECTS: Indestructible Hulk #1-5
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASED: May 15, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Indestructible Hulk had a lot going for it before it even hit stands, what with Mark Waid and Leinil Yu reuniting. Throw in a hell of a premise with Hulk working for S.H.I.E.L.D., and you’ve got one of the hottest tickets in all of comics.

Then a trip to Atlantis watered it all down…no pun intended.

Frustrated at the idea of being remembered only as the Hulk, with very few contributions actually having been made to science, Bruce Banner strikes a deal with S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill. In exchange for a state-of-the-art lab facility and a staff of researchers, S.H.I.E.L.D. gets to use Hulk as its personal cannon, to aim at whichever battle or crisis it sees fit to. This new arrangement will see Hulk battle supervillains, Atlanteans, and even Iron Man.

Indestructible Hulk #1, Bruce Banner, Maria HillIn terms of superhero comics, Mark Waid is truly one of the modern-day greats, and he shows us why in the very first issue of Indestructible Hulk. Banner and Hill are simply sitting in a diner, with emphasis placed on a ticking clock. “Tick…tick…tick.” The idea is that Hulk is a ticking time bomb which could explode at any moment. Waid also has a few clumsy diner patrons poke the sleeping giant to up the tension. It’s a fantastic scene, possibly my favorite since the start of Marvel NOW!.

Waid does some really good character work with Bruce in the first half of this book. Much of it is actually pretty funny. For instance, the first time Banner meets his new staff, he tests their mettle with a scream of: “What do you mean there’s no internet connection?!?” There are a couple of moments with a would-be robot companion (who we see on the cover) which are amusing as well.

Waid also explores a really intriguing idea in the first two issues: Banner is jealous of Tony Stark, as he always gets to use his brilliance to save the day. Banner, meanwhile, has been stuck trying to “cure” himself of the Hulk. This factors in to his more proactive “manage what exists” approach. The second issue, which culminates in a fight between Hulk and Iron Man, actually represents a lot of what I’ve been missing from DC since the New 52. When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner have a conversation, they feel like old friends, because the audience knows there’s so much history there. Compare that to the conversation we recently saw between Superman and Batman in Justice League #20. We know the characters, but we don’t know them like we do Stark and Banner in this book.

Indestructible Hulk #3, Maria Hill, Iron ManFor the most part, Leinil Yu draws a kick ass book here. He has some issues with his layouts early on, most notably in the first issue, in an instance where a diner patron inexplicably appears to be stroking Maria Hill’s forehead. But he’s so good at the action side of things, and his Hulk seems to be positively pulsating with explosive ferocity and rage, it’s easy to forgive him.

Sadly, the book loses a huge chunk of its momentum in the second half of the fourth issue, when a mission sends Hulk to Atlantis. Simply put, when the emphasis shifted toward the Atlantean conflict, I stopped caring. We’d spent the majority of the book on the Banner/S.H.I.E.L.D. dichotomy, growing more and more invested in this new found balance struck between the two. So when we leave it in favor of Atlantis, the result is just…meh. I suffered through issue five (despite Yu’s stellar art), because it seemed like such a departure from everything I’d been reading up to that point. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book which started with such a bang, but ended with such a whimper.

Sadly, Waid and Yu’s reunion began and ended with this book. But so long as Waid is still on board, Indestructible Hulk will no doubt continue to be worth keeping an eye on. My feelings of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. are positive, given how wonderfully it started. I only with this Hulk book had been able to maintain some of its awesome strength.

RATING: 7/10

Image 1 from mindofshadow.com. Image 2 from blogdesuperheroes.es.

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