Review – Vader Faces His Destiny in Marvel’s Darth Vader #24
“FORTRESS VADER” – PART 6
The FORTRESS will stand, but at a terrible cost.
The fire will come to MUSTAFAR, and all will burn.
The final design is revealed, woven from war, treachery and pain.
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Colors by David Curiel and Dono Sanches-Almara
When we left Darth Vader at the end of the previous issue, Lord Momin pulled the rug from under his feet at the same time that the native inhabitants of Mustafar decided to strike against the Imperial presence on the planet. Momin has thrown Vader out of his own fortress and managed to pierce the space/time veil, basically reuniting his old self and the imprint he left on the mask.
As this issue opens, Vader is forced to address the most immediate threat: the overwhelming number of Mustafar(i)ans attacking the Imperial forces. The Imperials are outnumbered ten to one, and they are panicking, calling for evacuation.
But withdrawal is not in Vader’s vocabulary. He orders the forces to destroy the enemy and demonstrates his power, both with the Force and the lightsaber, thus motivating his people to fight back.
It’s interesting to compare this scene with the now famous one from Rogue One. This Vader is only a couple of years removed from Revenge of the Sith era Anakin. His wounds, both physical and emotional, are still fresh. What we have here is a demonstration of rage burning as hot as the planet Vader is fighting on. You can easily see this display commanding people’s respect and motivating them to follow. Compared to it, the scene from Rogue One shows strictly controlled rage. There is no flashy jumps, excessive exertion of strength: that was Vader doing his job to maximum effect. That was a Vader who had gained experience and lost the impatience of his youth. You may prefer one over the other but, regardless, both are impressive, most impressive.
But, the locals are not about to give up. They see a chance to strike a decisive blow to their enemy and, by combining their strengths, burn their world clean. We can now say with certainty that the natives can use the Force and their actions are no less impressive than Vader’s.
What follows is a violent eruption which destroys the entirety of the Imperial forces. Vader’s armor and Force powers save him, and he seemingly retreats to the fortress. The locals believe that they have achieved victory and plan to destroy the fortress. But Vader is faster. He reaches the dark side nexus within and uses it to shred the Mustafar(i)ans to pieces.
Exhausted and hurt, Vader is confronted by Lord Momin who thanks him for preserving his masterpiece. At this point, I have a confession to make. So far, I have quite liked Momin and everything he represented and could represent. It could also be that Soule’s constant quality writing contributed to the mismanaging of my expectations. While the outcome of this clash was never in question, I expected Momin to represent a much bigger challenge for Vader. So, I was mildly disappointed when he started monologuing and baiting Vader. It seems that arrogance is one thing all Sith have in common, regardless of the era. But, there is one thing you never, ever do, and that is underestimate Vader.
While Momin sneers at Vader’s and the emperor’s perceived failings, he manages to land a few strikes. Vader, meanwhile, wants to know just one thing: Did Momin lie about the things than lie beyond the door? When Momin confirms that he was telling the truth, Vader immediately squashes him with a piece of the structure. Momin is outraged and still doesn’t believe in Vader’s power. He thinks the dark side wants him to live. My disappointment aside, Soule still produces powerfully chilling Vader dialogue: “If that’s true, Momin, than you will.”
Vader completely destroys Momin. There will be no second return for the ancient Sith lord. Gathering his remaining strength and calling on the power of the dark side, Darth Vader opens the door declaring: “My destiny is my own.”
I can’t be the only one who read this issue and immediately wanted to jump into the last one. From the beginning of this arc, it was clear that the obsession that led Vader down the dark path is more alive than ever, and his drive is unstoppable. On the last page of this issue the fulfillment of his greatest wish is at hand. The summary of the next issue leads me to believe that speculations of some of our readers will probably come true in some shape or form: Vader will indeed meet his wife again and be rejected, because he is still on the path she cannot follow.
That would explain so much of Vader’s later story: his seemingly complete loyalty to the Emperor and laser sharp focus on the destruction of all opposition – because there was nothing left for him. That is, until a blond farmer boy came into his life.
This comic run has had issues I have liked better story wise, but I feel Camuncoli is the star of this one. The Battle of Fortress Vader and subsequent destruction of the Imperial forces is something I could easily see being worthy of the movie screen. I always liked the dramatic way Camuncoli draws Vader, and the action scenes here are truly breathtaking. While I wanted more from the following showdown, I can see the set up of the resolution. Momin might have not turned out to be as big of the foil for Vader as I wanted, but his demise opens the door for the true showdown of this story. I predict that we, together with Vader himself, will truly look into the dark side abyss and I have faith that Charles Soule will deliver a powerful conclusion to this story.
On a more personal note, I have pretty much monopolized the reviews on this comic run – I have done more than half of them – which is why the last issue and the comic in general will be reviewed by one of my colleagues. But, I immensely enjoyed the ride, and I am looking forward to Soule’s future Star Wars escapades.
Before the end comes in December,
THIS ISSUE GETS 7.5/10 STARS.
FORTRESS VADER: FINALE!
The FORTRESS is complete. The door will be opened.
VADER finds everything he has ever desired.
THE DARK LORD gets everything he deserves.