Written by Charles Soule
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli
The most fearsome villain of all time returns with an all-new series! When Anakin Skywalker fell, both to the pull of the dark side and to the blade of Obi-Wan Kenobi, he rose back up, more machine than man. Having lost everything that was once dear to him, the former chosen one must take his first steps into a darker world…as Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith! Join Vader as he learns a new way – the way of Darth Sidious and his newly formed Empire…the way of the dark side.
When we left the Dark Lord of the Sith in the last issue, he had just delivered some scum to their fates on his way to fulfill the task given him by his master, Emperor Palpatine, to find a surviving Jedi and obtain a lightsaber of his own.
As this issue opens, Charles Soule takes us to a former Jedi outpost in the Mid Rim where a group of clone troopers is stationed. They discuss how cloning facilities on Kamino were closed and how instead of fighting they are stuck doing inventory.
As they discuss their current situation, the unknown ship approaches the former Jedi outpost. The access to the area is restricted and the pilots guarding the station request for the pilot to leave the area or he will be shot down. The pilot is, of course, Darth Vader.
The ship AI informs Vader that he has the authorization codes for the station. If they are transmitted, Vader could board the station peacefully, but it is clear that Vader is in the mood for a fight. Since this is the newly minted Empire, the defending clone pilots fly ARC-170 starfighters. Vader easily takes four of them without using all of his ship’s weapons or his AI’s assistance as clone troopers observe from the station.
His flying is so impressive that it prompts some of the troopers to speculate that the pilot is a Jedi. While they are preparing to defend the station, some of them see the situation as an opportunity to prove their worth to the Emperor, hoping he would keep them around.
The scene that follows shows us several important things. This version of Vader is still raw and clone troopers are superior soldiers. In spite of Vader’s immense power, they are able to wound him. Still, Vader’s rage prevails and they are forced to retreat.
Vader gains access to the station’s archive. He is looking for the Jedi who have taken the Barash Vow prior to Order 66. In the exchange with his AI which again showed that Vader lacks control of his emotions, we learn that those who have taken the vow refrained from all the activities related to the Order. They were disconnected from anything but the Force. Their strict vow would also prevent them from defending against the Jedi purge or from going into hiding.
The clone troopers attempt another attack by throwing a bomb at Vader. They believe they can overpower him while he is keeping it from blowing up, because they are convinced that he is a Jedi and from their experience Jedi had limits. Unfortunately for them, Vader is no longer a Jedi.
The AI has completed the search and as he leaves, Vader destroys the station. Vader’s target is a Jedi who went on a pilgrimage even before Anakin entered the Jedi order, so he wouldn’t be familiar with him. Even before this Jedi left the order, he was not involved in diplomacy, research or training. Kirak Infil’a’s only purpose within the Order was to fight.
There are several things to unpack in this issue. The first one is Vader himself. It is obvious that he has not mastered his emotions, that he is still raw from the massive change his life underwent. The Vader we meet later in the timeline possesses iron clad control over his rage. This version of him needs to vent it – he engages in an unnecessary fight with the pilots and takes an issue with AI/droid asking for clarification. But, the freedom to do anything he wants also gives him immense power.
The other thing is the tragedy of the clones. Clearly, these are the clones that remained loyal to Palpatine/Empire and, yet, they are cast aside. They feel useless and desire to serve because they were created for it. Once Vader comes on the scene, you know that all their hopes of Palpatine recognizing their worth would be dashed. Still superior fighters to the stormtroopers that will follow them, they have no chance against Vader’s rage. I also liked how Soule maintained the continuity by giving them individual personalities and names, in spite of the fact that you never see their faces.
Additionally, I like how these comics add to the lore of Star Wars. We always knew that it was impossible that all the Jedi had perished during the purge, but Soule gives us one of the reasons for it by introducing the concept of the Barash Vow for the first time and the Jedi who cut all the ties with the world, except the tie to the Force.
Camuncoli’s art remains incredibly dynamic and completely suited for this version of Vader, brash and fierce. David Curiel’s colors perfectly compliment the art.
It seems that this particular comic is picking up steam. Vader’s confrontation with Kirak Infil’a, who is practically warrior monk, promises to be explosive. We know how it must end, but it seems to me that Vader’s trials have just begun and that Infil’a will be a more than worthy opponent. We can look forward to their confrontation…
…in the NEXT ISSUE:
DARTH VADER: DARK LORD OF THE SITH #3
- Vader sets his sights on a Jedi who’s avoided Order 66…
- …a Jedi Master who’s long lived in seclusion…
- …a Jedi more powerful than any Vader has faced before…