I’m a little bit behind on these write-ups about the Star Wars comics, but currently the Darth Vader comic series is exploring the Sith Lord in-between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Written by Greg Pak, the first arc of the series saw Vader investigating Padmé Amidala’s death and how she gave birth to a son before she died. That arc wrapped up, but as Vader reported back to Emperor Palpatine, the Emperor prepared to punish Vader for his disobedient rebellion.
And that’s where the most recent issue, Darth Vader #6, picks up.
In the last issue, Darth Vader finished his investigation into the death of Padmé Amidala, as he wanted to discover how she could have given birth to a son before dying. Having found sufficient information on his quest, Vader returned to Coruscant to report to his master, Emperor Palpatine. “The Sith know. that fear leads to anger,” Palpatine told him, “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.”
That’s where this issue picks up, as Vader uses his lightsaber to try to defend himself from Palpatine’s relentless Force lightning attacks. Grand Vizier Mas Amedda explains that the reason for these attacks are Vader’s letting Skywalker escape (on Cloud City), refusing to report to Palpatine and instead going on a personal mission, and letting Sabé escape alive. Amedda explains that this is failure at best, and treason at worst. The royal guards then spring into action and attack Vader, while Palpatine takes his lightsaber. Vader gets the better of them and uses the Force to choke the guards and Amedda, but Palpatine in turn Force chokes Vader, lifting him off the ground, and then uses the Force to crush him as Palpatine hurls taunts at him.
Vader is left broken, with his mechanical arm and legs destroyed and gone, and his mask damaged. Palpatine takes Vader to Mustafar, where Death Troopers drag the wounded apprentice to the same lava river bank where he was left for dead by Obi-Wan Kenobi years earlier. That time, Palpatine had rebuilt him, but this time the Emperor orders Vader to rebuild himself – without using the Force. Palpatine leaves Vader alone, and the apprentice has flashbacks to Kenobi leaving him, as well as to killing Kenobi on the Death Star – imagining instead that it was Palpatine he killed. Vader wills himself to survive, and he does.
Aboard an Imperial shuttle, Mas Amedda informs Palpatine that Vader is alive, heading for the ruins of the Techno Union facility to rebuild himself, intent on killing the Emperor. Palpatine knows all this, and sends the Sith assassin Ochi of Bestoon to remind Vader of these lessons again and again, as many times as is needed.
I’ll start off here with the end, as probably many people noticed that Ochi of Bestoon shows up to hunt Vader on Mustafar. Ochi, of course, was the Sith assassin seen in flashbacks in The Rise of Skywalker, as he was in possession of the dagger that led to Exegol, but was also tasked with retrieving Rey and bringing her to Palpatine. When he didn’t find Rey, he killed her parents instead. But later, Ochi perished in the deserts of Pasaana, having fallen into the sinking fields and gotten trapped. We don’t know much about him before this time, though, so it’s really interesting to see him featured here. I’m really excited to learn more about him.
On the issue as a whole, I think it’s a nice touch re-visiting Vader’s most horrific moment on Mustafar. Vader bests Mas Amedda and the royal guards, but not Palpatine. In turn, the Emperor leaves him broken and forces him to rescue himself this time. I think it’s fitting that Palpatine takes all the credit for creating Darth Vader, since he was the one who rescued him and remade him. Vader himself doesn’t get any of the credit. But this time around, Palpatine forces him to save himself.
It’s also notable just how intent Vader is on killing Palpatine. That’s not too surprising, but Vader’s thoughts go there, Mas Amedda knows it, and Palpatine knows it. I’m very curious how the comic will handle that in the upcoming issue(s), as I doubt Palpatine is going to just let Vader keep going while he’s looking for a chance to kill him. Although, to be fair, that’s kind of the way of the Sith.
I’ve really been enjoying this series, and this issue began taking things in a direction that I didn’t see coming, but that has hooked me and has me eagerly awaiting the next issue!