The current Darth Vader comic series (there have been several) is written by Greg Pak and is exploring the period immediately following The Empire Strikes Back.
Darth Vader has learned that he has a son, Luke Skywalker, and has tried – and failed – to turn Luke to the dark side on Cloud City. In the aftermath of that, Vader takes a leave and heads off on a personal mission, trying to find out how the birth of his child had been hidden from him. That quest comes to an end in Darth Vader #5, which was just recently released.
*** Obviously full spoilers are ahead, so if you don’t want any spoilers for this issue before you read it, don’t read any further in this article! ***
Having finally made his way to the tomb of Padmé Amidala on Naboo in the previous issue, Darth Vader prepares to open the coffin, despite pleadings otherwise from Sabé, but thinks twice about it. His droid scans through the coffin and detects a med implant from Polis Massa. Vader leaves, and Sabé contacts the Amidalans to follow. Vader’s droid orders the Death Troopers to kill the Amidalans, but Vader counters that order and allows them to meet him at Polis Massa.
There, at the site of a now-abandoned Rebel base, Vader and his droid find in the computers a record of Padmé’s Naboo cruiser arriving, piloted by Obi-Wan Kenobi. At this point the Amidalans arrive with a fleet of ships and warriors, and Vader engages them in combat. Having already prepared for this, Vader’s Death Troopers are stationed at guns to fire on the ships, flanking them and gaining the upper hand. While haunted by flashbacks of what happened on Mustafar all those years ago, Vader fights, including pulling ships out of the sky and throwing them at the ground forces. Before long, the Amidalans are wiped out.
Vader and the droid head to the medical bay, where they discover that a badly damaged medical droid still has a small part of its memory bank intact. A video surfaces of Padmé talking to Obi-Wan Kenobi. “That name again!” the droid remarks upon hearing Obi-Wan’s name. “He must have been very important to her!” At this, Vader slices the droid in half, watching the rest of the recording by himself, as Padmé says, “There’s still good in him. I know… I know… there’s… still…”
After all of this, Vader returns to Coruscant to report to Emperor Palpatine, telling him that his quest is over. Palpatine reminds him that, “the Sith know that fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… and hate leads to strength. But you, my friend… have just wallowed in grief. you need to start all over again… with fear.” As he says this, he prepares to use Force lightning from his fingers, and the issue ends.
Even though Vader’s personal quest is over, it seems like he is about to pay the consequences for it, getting punished by his master. I really enjoyed how Palpatine twisted that classic Yoda quote – Yoda warned Luke that it was the path to the dark side, but here Palpatine reminds Vader that it’s the path to strength. I thought that was a nice touch and a nice twist.
But anyway, though Vader will still pay for his actions, it seems that his investigation into Padmé’s death and the secret of her child has come to an end, so it’s worth reflecting on that a little bit. We know that Vader has spent a lot of effort in trying to bring back Padmé from the dead, but once he discovered that he had a child, he became much more curious into the circumstances of her death. All he had been told by Palpatine was that he had killed her in his anger, but here Vader learns that she actually survived longer than maybe he initially knew. She survived long enough to be taken to Polis Massa, where she gave birth to twins before dying.
On that note, I was really curious how this issue was going to handle Padmé’s childbirth, since Vader at this point in the timeline can’t know that she had twins. The answer was satisfactory; the birthing center at the base had taken a lot of damage and records had been erased, so all that they could access was part of the memory from the medical droid. All this memory showed was Padmé’s belief that there was still good in Anakin. Was this just a coincidence, or was that segment left intentionally, while the rest was erased to preserve the secrecy of the children? I have no idea. But this way at least, it makes sense why Vader wouldn’t know about the twins yet, even after re-tracing Padmé’s final steps.
This also surely furthers Vader’s hatred for Obi-Wan Kenobi, but also connects with Revenge of the Sith. When Vader discovers that Luke has a twin sister, he says, “Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete.” In Vader’s mind, Obi-Wan was the one who turned Padmé against him, was the one who tried to save Padmé, oversaw her giving birth, hid the children, and trained Luke. The jealousy and hatred must only continue to grow here.
One big question that this issue left open was about the fate of Sabé, though I’m not sure it looks all that promising. The Amidalans arrived to fight Vader but were seemingly all wiped out. Though we don’t see what happens to Sabé, I fear that she was killed here as well. If that’s the case, then so much of the legacy of Padmé Amidala died on Polis Massa.
In the end, I have really enjoyed this arc, exploring Vader’s quest for information about his son. I was initially a bit hesitant and wary to dive into this, but I thought it was handled really well – including, as already mentioned, the fact that Padmé gave birth to twins, unbeknownst to Vader. It makes total sense to me that Vader would want to find out how Padmé could have given birth to their son without him knowing it, so this is a story that makes tons of sense and is very reasonable, told in an engaging way that connects well to the prequel films.
Now we’ll just have to see how much Vader has to pay for his grief.