Review – Vader Encounters Echoes from His Past and the Sith in Star Wars: Darth Vader #21
DARTH VADER returns to the place of his birth as he seeks the path to his destiny. Echoes from the past reach out to him — both from his own, and from the dark history of the SITH.
Written by Charles Soule
Layouts by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Finishes by Daniele Orlandini
Colors by David Curiel
In the previous issue, the Dark Lord of the Sith demanded and received something for himself, his own planet – Mustafar. As this issue begins, we see that Vader is traveling to Mustafar in the Emperor’s other gift to him, Padme Amidala’s ship. The ship holds ghosts of the past as we see Vader’s eerie vision of a young Anakin Skywalker who once traveled on the ship. But, when the child turns around, his face has morphed into the mask of Darth Vader.
Vader is accompanied by Colonel Alva Brene who was tasked by the Emperor to design Vader’s new stronghold. Vader will be taking over the piloting of the ship when they arrive to Mustafar’s orbit. Once he leaves, Brene and Lieutenant Roggo discuss the ship and its internal decoration artifacts which include what appears to be a Sith mask. I am not sure if we have seen it before, but it reminded me of some artifacts we saw in the Lando miniseries. Brene is surprised by Vader’s choice of ship because she expected something minimalist.
The ship arrives in Mustafar orbit and alarms go off when the ship’s shields go down. Brene contacts Vader and learns that he was the one who disabled the shields. As the ship’s systems fail one after another, the burning ship descends to planet’s surface. Armored inhabitants of Mustafar – Father Kkkt and Zzzs – watch and Father Kkkt declares it an omen, but doesn’t know if it’s good or bad.
The ship is completely burned and blackened and Brene says they at least now know Vader’s preferred aesthetic.
In front of the cave where Vader bled his crystal, Vader remembers his conversation with the Emperor who wants to know why Vader chose Mustafar. Vader tells him that in the cave he was able to go deeper in the Force where certain things were found to be possible that were simply impossible anywhere else. Palpatine believes Vader wants to bring Padme back with this power. In any case, his power would grow, and with that, Palpatine’s as well. The Emperor promises Vader another gift.
While Vader immerses himself in the Dark Force in the cave, Brene begins the initial design, looking over the landscape and incorporating local materials into the project. When she brings it to Vader, he is not happy and she returns to start over. Some time later, Vader is once again taken out of his work by a scream. He finds Brene killed and Roggo working on the computer while wearing the mysterious mask. His eyes glow red.
Palpatine’s last gift is revealed to be the mask of Lord Momin who unlike most Sith didn’t walk the path of destruction, but creation. His most unusual path might help Vader follow his. Vader never heard of Momin because his path was considered heretical and his story was suppressed. When Vader asks how Palpatine knows of it, the Emperor says that the mask had told him.
Vader kills Roggo. But, his computer contains the project for Vader’s fortress, and we see that familiar shape we’ve come to know well. But, who had more hand in it – Roggo or Momin?
This issue clearly shows that this arc will be a delicacy for lore connoisseurs. With each issue we get more and more tidbits about the Sith and this one surely doesn’t disappoint. The introduction of Lord Momin might be in the foreground and probably the most important. However, the first thing that captured me was Vader’s vision of his old self and his anger which burns and pulsates like the unpredictable bubbling lava fires of Mustafar. The way he treats his beloved wife’s ship and the pain he puts himself and others through shows just how far removed Darth Vader is from Anakin Skywalker.
The issue has a satisfyingly sinister tone, so it’s a bit surprising to see glimpses of humor in it – from Brene’s insistence to treat Vader as any other client to her asking Vader whether he would do much entertaining. Still, she was described as a cool-headed professional, so it’s no surprise that Momin’s mask influenced the weaker, more subservient Roggo.
So, let’s talk about Momin. It is always a bonus to be introduced to another Sith, especially since there are so few prominent ones in canon. Here we have a Sith heretic who used the Force to create and sculpt in such a unique way, likely never to be replicated, and the fact that his mask alone could create is sure to fire up the imagination of many fans. The question is: Was it only the creation that branded him a heretic? Or was it that he created things not even the Sith could tolerate? It seems we might get a few of those answers in the next issue.
Camuncoli’s use of minimalist approach to certain scenes increased the foreboding, stifling atmosphere. His art in this issue was perfectly complemented by Curiel’s colors to show the hellish Mustafar landscape, including its inhabitants.
This issue opens many exciting doors for the future (dare I say, that many would consider to be unnatural?) by setting up elements of the Sith lore we haven’t seen before, in canon or Legends. The quality of this comic run remains high from issue to issue and this one sustains that quality. Now we wait until we get some answers, and judging by the cover, perhaps in Shakespearean fashion…
THIS ISSUE GETS 8.5/10 STARS
The tale of Lord Momin! Plans are drawn…a foundation is laid …and darkness rises on Mustafar!