The difference between Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker has always been apparent. A lot of people’s criticisms of the prequel trilogy was that it made Darth Vader “more lame” and not the same anymore. With art from Giuseppe Camuncoli and a story from Charles Soule, 2017’s Darth Vader comic succeeds like no other Darth Vader story has: by connecting Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader as one person.
The very first issue opens with Anakin awaking from his transformation to Darth Vader.
He has flashbacks of what has happened in the past few hours, with him seeing a vision of Padme. Vader gets punished from the Emperor for losing his fight to Kenobi. Everything’s happening so fast, yet it’s so perfect. There’s also a ceremonial burning of Jedi lightsabers that’s just awesome. Within the first ten pages of the first issue of Vader, I’d argue that there was more great moments than any of the Star Wars comics in recent time.
Vader’s task is to find himself a lightsaber. Not just for the saber, but more particularly for the crystal within. The way Sith get their kyber crystals is by bleeding the life out of Jedi crystals, which make them red (we know this from the Ahsoka novel). The first issue of Vader already pushes the character forward more than the entire (2015) Vader series. In my opinion, one of the most interesting times in the life of Darth Vader is right after he became the dark lord. And already through one issue, they completely killed it.
In the second issue of Vader, there’s a part where he destroys a few starfighters with no problem. A few stormtroopers comment on the action saying “I haven’t seen flying like this since…” and another trooper replies “don’t even say it. It can’t be a Jedi. They’re all dead.”
This reminds me of in the Lords of the Sith novel, Vader remembers a moment from the Clone Wars, back when he was Anakin Skywalker. Little things like this help tie the two characters together so well, and Charles Soule deserves a great amount of credit for doing so.
Issue four starts with Vader broken, having limbs removed from a fall, using a droid leg to substitute for his own. Vader fulfills his mission by killing a jedi and taking his lightsaber. We see the full brutality of Vader in issues three and four. I’d even say this is the most savage we’ve seen the dark lord outside of his glorious scene at the end of Rogue One. Issue 5 starts with Vader going to Mustafar. Already you’re hooked. Again, linking Vader and Anakin strikes a successful blow with readers here. Vader is on the planet to draw on its darkside power and use it to help corrupt his kyber crystal . While doing so, Vader has a vision of what he could do after this mission. He envisions going back to Coruscant and striking down his master (Palpatine). He goes to wherever Obi-Wan Kenobi is located and apologizes to him. I’ve always wondered if Vader has contemplated going back to the light side before his son brought the best out of him. It’s easy to forget that just days before this he was known as Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic.
Issue six starts with Vader getting repaired from his injuries he suffered in the previous issue, where he used robotic limbs as substitute.This reminds us of the scene in Empire Strikes Back and Rogue One where Vader is getting worked on.
We are again reminded of how the man once referred to as Anakin Skywalker has lost his humanity and is, like his limbs, robotic. Vader vs the Grand Inquisitor is another amazing thing that this series gives us. Seeing the Dark Lord face off against someone truly powerful and skilled with a lightsaber is something we don’t see that often. By the time Anakin becomes Vader, almost all the Jedi are extinct. Seeing him actually unleash his full power is nothing short of epic.
The most recent arc (issues 7-10) is about Vader and Jocasta Nu, the former Chief Librarian of the Jedi archives. We see her go back to the Jedi Temple. A few pages later, there’s a beautiful panel of Vader. He’s meditating, looking like his body is becoming a physical embodiment of darkness. Vader is levitating, with a glowing butterfly in front of him. There’s no information as to what this floating butterfly is, but I perceived it as him looking at his old self. Anakin, Padme, Obi-Wan. There isn’t much left. This is symbolized by the butterfly being so small. So much darkness has taken over the light.
Something else that’s amazing is when he’s awakened, Vader’s lightsaber is levitating as well. I wonder if this is a common thing when he meditates, or if it’s a response to being awakened.
Jocasta and the Grand Inquisitor face off, with Vader saving her. Jocasta is there to delete all the archives of the children of the force scattered around the galaxy so that the Emperor and Vader don’t get their hands on them. Jocasta is one of the last Jedi left. It’s so cool seeing her go back to where she once worked. The connection between the prequels and classic Vader works very well. She also uses a lightsaber as ammo in some sort of gun, which is absolutely bonkers.
Possibly the most epic sequence in this whole series so far happens towards the end of issue 10. Jocasta would rather die than succumb to Vader, so she jumps off into the darkness of Coruscant. While doing this, she says “I am one with the force and the force is with me”, imitating the dying words of one Chirrut Imwe. Vader, instead, has other plans for the former librarian. He uses the force to bring the falling body of Jocasta to a standstill, and begins bringing her towards him. She tells both Vader and the stormtroopers surrounding her that Vader is the one who should be taken in, being a former Jedi himself: Anakin Skywalker. You can feel the tension inside of Vader right after this happens. Someone knows who Vader is now. What will happen to him if the public becomes aware? Nothing. Vader kills them all, leaving no witnesses to know the true identity of the dark lord.
The first ten issues of Darth Vader are extremely successful. I’d go so far to say that it is the most successful ten issue run of any Star Wars comic so far. What this series does so well is connecting things together. It connects new and old. The Vader we love, with the best of the prequels. Things we know about Vader, with things we don’t. Anakin and Vader are one in this series. So often we think of Anakin Skywalker as a prequels character and Darth Vader as an original trilogy character. It’s easy to not connect the two of them. However, with this current Vader series, the bridge between Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader is closing. We are beginning to see them as the same character. This is how the series succeeds; and I can’t wait to read more.
Be sure to check out an all new story in Darth Vader #11 this week as the saga of the young Sith Lord continues!