So far in the new Star Wars canon, we haven’t heard much of anything about the Old Republic, the ancient Sith, or related matters. We’ve gotten hints here and there, but we haven’t really gotten any concrete stories.
I’ll just say up front: I think that’s intentional. I am very convinced that Lucasfilm has plans to explore the Old Republic era post-Episode IX, and I’d be shocked if one of their new film series doesn’t focus on that time period. So my perception is that Lucasfilm is intentionally not exploring too much this period so as to have as clean of a slate as possible for future storytellers.
But with all of that said, in the most recent issue of the fantastic Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith comic line, written by Charles Soule and drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli, we learned the story of Darth Momin, an ancient Sith.
Momin was a creator. He sought to create things, much to the horror of others. As Momin marveled at his creations, others recoiled in fear. Because of this, the locals imprisoned him, but a Sith named Shaa broke him out of prison. She took him as her apprentice, training him in the dark side of the Force. Momin, however, didn’t appreciate being an apprentice and so he killed his master – though he never took an apprentice of his own. He instead continued studying and eventually became fascinated with wanting to create something that would impress even the Force. So together with some acolytes who followed him, Momin built a weapon that would slowly destroy a city. His plan was far more nefarious than that, however: he planned to use the Force, pouring it into the machine, to control time so as to freeze the people in a permanent state of pain and fear – which, in Momin’s mind, would have been a lasting, eternal shrine to the dark side. He had, after all, always wanted to create something that would last.
His plan didn’t exactly go that way, however. For as he was enacting it, Jedi found him. The Jedi defeated the acolytes, and the presence of the light side was enough to cause Momin to lose control of his plan, resulting in the total devastation of the city and Momin’s destruction – leaving only his mask left behind.
We were first introduced to Momin in Soule’s Lando Calrissian comic series, and he then showed up in Soule’s Darth Vader comic series. In the previous issue (#21) of Fortress Vader, one of Vader’s Imperial officers put on Momin’s mask and was possessed, killing the architect before being killed by Vader – but only after he had come up with plans for Vader’s castle. Vader took the mask to a Sith enclave on Mustafar, attempting to learn all he could about this ancient Sith. Momin’s mask attempted to possess Vader, too, but the Sith Lord fought against it. Vader instead attacked a group of Mustafarians, killing all but one of them. Vader forced Momin’s mask on the survivor, causing him to be possessed by Momin – whom Vader then tasked with constructing his castle.
In addition to learning of Momin’s story, there are some interesting things to consider that arise in this issue along those lines:
- A Sith’s immortality? All that we have previously known about the Sith is that they cannot achieve immortality through the Force in the way that some Jedi were able to. We know that Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and almost certainly Luke Skywalker were able to maintain consciousness after their deaths and live on as Force ghosts, but all indications are that it is not an option for the Sith. That is, most likely, still true. But what we see here is that there is a way for Momin to live on. He is able to possess those who put on the mask, and thus continue to live. This is not at all the same type of existence as the Jedi, but it is a way for him to continue.
- The castle’s secrets? This arc of the comic series is titled “Fortress Vader” and is all about Vader constructing his castle on Mustafar. We first saw the castle appear in Rogue One, and I’m super interested in learning more about it. That intrigue only grew in this issue, as Vader showed Momin (now possessing the Mustafarian’s body) the designs for the castle (which were created by Momin) and asked what it was. Momin replied: “The door to the dark side is locked. This is the key.” That is incredibly interesting, as it indicates that there is a deeper purpose to Vader’s castle beyond just a place to reside. With just three issues left in the “Fortress Vader” arc, we should be getting more answers soon.
- A familiar dark promise? It seems that, perhaps, a deeper purpose behind the castle is rooted in a promise that Vader is familiar with. In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine tells Vader that together they can discover the secret to keep Padme from dying. That doesn’t work, but Momin tells Vader that, “Your beloved waits for you there, Vader. Beyond the door. … You will see her aga—” Vader cuts Momin off, choking him with the Force, saying, “I have been lied to about the dark side’s ability to prevent death before. Do not offer me things you cannot provide.” Momin assures the Sith Lord that he does not lie but simply wants a chance to create, and Vader allows him to do so. It will be interesting to see where this goes. Will Vader once again be betrayed by a promise that he could see his beloved Padme again? Or will Momin actually unlock deeper secrets of the dark side of the Force for Vader to experience?
- Mustafar’s origins? I want to be clear: the comic does not explicitly state what I am going to postulate here, but I do believe it is strongly implied, and I am not alone in thinking that either. And it is this: that Momin essentially created Mustafar as we know it. We know the planet as a desolate volcanic planet filled with lava and ash. Having been given a body, Momin says, “Ah. I am still on Mustafar. The planet was not always like this. Did you know that?” Now, keep in mind that what we know of Momin is that he created a weapon to destroy a city and it caused massive destruction, and it was in this that Momin died. So that would have been his most recent bodily experience that we know of, which makes it interesting that he says, “I am still on Mustafar.” He then follows that up by telling Vader that Mustafar hasn’t always been like it is now. In other words: was the planet that Momin used as the demonstration for his ‘artwork’ Mustafar? Was it because of his actions that Mustafar is now a ravaged planet? That may not be the case, but it certainly seems to be implied by the conversation. Hopefully we’ll get more clarity one way or the other in future issues.