Darth Vader is finally back! After a couple months without this story, I am happy to be writing a review for it. For those who have forgotten some of the current story, I’ll give a brief overview. The current story takes place right after The Empire Strikes Back. Luke knows Vader is his father and Vader failed to turn him to the dark side. Now, Vader is on a mission to destroy whoever made Luke “weak”. This leads him on another mission to find out what exactly happened to Padme, only to discover one of Padmé’s former handmaiden, Sabé. They decide to join forces to discover what happened to Padmé. The second issue ends with Sabé, Vader, and his clever forensics droid Zed-67 traveling to Naboo where she has hidden security videos of Padme’s quarters right before she disappeared. Lets take a look into this third issue…
We begin on Naboo. Vader takes the view in of the rolling hills of green grass and tall mountains. A black figure standing out in the middle of a vibrant valley. Memories of Padmé come back to him of their time spent together in those valleys. Sabé breaks his thoughts and they continue their voyage to the Naberrie Lake Retreat to search for the security videos. As they enter the retreat, Vader has another flashback to his time with Padmé. Then, he senses danger and blaster shots are fired. He ignites his lightsaber and defects the shots from the two men. He grabs one of them around the throat with the force. Sabé pleads to Vader to put down the man. He obliges and we find out the two men are Gregar Typho and Captain Tonra. Two former servants of Padmé and formerly on the royal Naboo security forces. Vader is none to pleased to let these men live after they fired blaster shots at him, but they convince him that they know exactly where the security videos are. So he lets them live, for now..
Tonra and Typho lead the group down a stair case. Zed-67 begins to question Typho about his time serving Padmé. During this conversation he praises former handmaiden Cordé and Anakin Skywalker for their service to Padmé. He also states his belief that Anakin gave his life to protect Padmé. Typho also was one of the last people to see Padmé before she left Coruscant. She told him she had personal business to attend to on Mustafar.
The group makes their way down the stairs to a tribubble bongo (Gungan submarine seen in Episode 1) and continues their journey under water. Zed-67 then starts to question Tonra about his time serving Padmé. We find out that Padmé sent Tonra and Sabé to Tatooine undercover to free Shmi Skywalker. Vader asks what came of it, but Sabé says they never found out what happened to her. Then out of nowhere, a Colo Claw fish (the alligator looking giant in The Phantom Menace) chomps down on their ship. The hull of the ship then cracks and the group left out in the open water. Then like a night in shinning black armor , Vader comes to the rescue diverting the giant fish to go after another giant fish with the force. These panels really brought me back to The Phantom Menace.
The group is safe but need oxygen fast. They see an underwater building built from plasma and bubble wort extract. These are the same buildings that Gungan city is made of. They all get inside and catch their breath. Vader and Zed-67 see a mural in commemoration to the alliance formed between the Gungans and the Naboo people. Sabé points out Anakin in the mural, and says they mourn his loss as the mourn Padmé. Vader has then seen enough and destroys the mural. He demands to see the security videos. Tonra retrieves the videos and hands it over to Zed-67. They have not been able to view the videos because the password is encrypted. Zed-67 easily cracks the encryption and opens the file.
The video is of Sabé, Tonra, Typho and others vowing to bring justice to whoever killed their queen. Zed-67 and Vader then see that they have been apart of a rouse. Sabé and the others never had the videos. The last time they know Padme was alive was right before she left for Mustafar. Sabé tells Vader she knows that Mustafar is his domain. We find out that they all three think that Vader murdered Padmé and Anakin Skywalker. They brought Vader here to kill him, just as they vowed to bring their queen justice. The issue ends with Tonra setting off a underwater device that attracts an even bigger fish to eat the entire building they are in.
Glad to be reading some new Vader material! This one really takes the reader back to Anakin’s youth and The Phantom Menace. Some parts are pretty heartbreaking to read. Padmé sent Sabé and Tonra to find Anakin’s mother for him and all of the memories he experiences through the issue. As a fan, I think sometimes what could have been for Anakin if he didn’t turn to the dark side. We see little moments in the issue of his former self when asking if they found Shmi and how he still deeply cares for Padmé. This isn’t just another Vader slashing through people story, I am enjoying where the writer Greg Pak is taking it and giving it that little twist at the end of this issue. It will be interesting to see how Vader gets out of this predicament and if any of the others survive.