Charles Soule’s Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith comic line is nearing the end of its run (it will end after issue #25), but it has been a terrific exploration of the Sith Lord’s beginnings and adjustments in becoming Darth Vader.
The latest arc, fittingly titled “Fortress Vader,” has dealt with Vader’s Castle. He was given the world Mustafar by Emperor Palpatine as a gift (upon Vader’s request), and Palpatine gave him a helmet from an old Sith named Momin. Vader soon realized that this helmet, when placed on someone’s head, took over that person and allowed Momin to manifest himself in that person’s body. We learned more backstory about Momin and realized that he was a creator (who perhaps created Mustafar as we know it), and Vader commissioned him to build a castle.
We knew that there was a purpose behind this castle and this design and this world, but we’re still learning what exactly that is. In the previous issue, #22, Momin teased the possibility of Vader seeing Padme again. In the most recent issue, #23, released on November 14, we see Momin trying to create this castle.
It actually is a quite humorous sequence – if something implicitly dark could be characterized as such – we see design after design failing, and each time Vader kills Momin’s ‘host body’ before giving the helmet to a new person – including, at one point, one of the native Mustafar creatures. Momin tells Vader that he cannot use the Force (since he is not actually alive but simply manifesting himself in these persons), so he relies on the Sith Lord to use the Force. Each time, the castle’s design fails, so Momin – in a new host body this time – begins again.
The native Mustafarians seem to be affected by Vader’s use of the Force on this world, though, and it’s creating chaotic lava storms and the like – which lead to them rebelling against the stormtroopers guarding the castle. They keep fending off these creatures while Momin works. Eventually, Momin creates the design that we know from Rogue One (and which, strangely, looked to be his initial design in the first place, which leads to the question of why he tried all of those other ones first). And it’s only then that we finally get a hint of what the purpose of the castle is, both for Vader and for Momin.
Vader uses the Force with this design, and it works. He begins to open a portal to another realm, but is distracted by a much larger attack by the Mustafarians. He has to leave to handle the battle, but while he does so Momin opens the portal – revealing that he could actually use the Force after all – and returns to his old body. That’s the way this issue ends, so we’ll have to wait until next week for the release of issue #24 to learn more about this.
But even now, I think we can make an assumption about what both Vader and Momin want from this castle. If you remember in Star Wars Rebels, we were introduced to the world between worlds, a space that seems to transcend time and era through the Force. Palpatine, understandably, wants access to this realm in Rebels and tries to gain it, but ultimately fails.
From the looks of the realm Vader peered into, it’s at least certainly supposed to get an attentive reader to believe it’s the world between worlds. So from Vader’s perspective, this world between worlds would allow him to see Padme again, but not only that, would allow him to alter the past to presumably allow Padme to still live. From Momin’s perspective, though, this world between worlds would allow him to live again, being reunited with his mask. So there seems to be a purpose for both of these Sith, though Vader doesn’t know of Momin’s purpose until it is too late.
If I am correct in that assumption, I think we’re getting into some really tricky ground for Star Wars. I noted as much when I reviewed that episode of Rebels that introduced the world between worlds, and said that while I trusted Dave Filoni immensely, I was concerned about what this might mean for future storytellers who aren’t as trustworthy as Filoni. I don’t necessarily like the precedent that was set, and I’m nervous about seeing it more moving forward. However, Charles Soule has done a terrific job on his Star Wars stuff so far, so I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt until we can see the full arc play out. Vader surely can’t gain access to this world between worlds – that would create too many problems, and it would mean Palpatine would have a much easier way to get access many years before Rebels – but it would be a cruel twist for him to actually come so close only to see the door (literally) slam shut. Perhaps that would be the point at which Vader truly lets Padme go and gives in fully to his darkness and hatred? I think that would be a cruel but fitting conclusion to this, letting him come so close yet without success.