The final issue of Marvel’s Darth Vader comic series is out, and plenty of revelations came with it. Before digging in, it should be noted that the Vader series is a total masterpiece and any Star Wars fan – whether they read comics or not – should give it a look. The story follows Darth Vader in the wake of Revenge of the Sith, when he was at his most vulnerable and undecided about his future.
We see the regret in his mind, and the consideration that he gave to slaughtering the Emperor and renouncing the dark side of the Force. We learn how Vader got his first lightsaber and how he hunted down several notable Jedi, including Jocasta Nu (the archivist from Attack of the Clones). More clarity is given to Vader’s relationship with Grand Moff Tarkin, thanks to a story about the Dark Lord of the Sith requesting that Tarkin attempt to hunt and kill him. Tarkin was moderately successful, which earned him Vader’s respect.
The most recent storyline in the comic involved Vader building his castle on Mustafar, which was seen for the first time in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Palpatine sent Vader to find a place to call his own, gifting him the mask of Momin to help him on his way. Momin was a very different kind of Sith, having been known for his unusual habits of building and creating art. Vader chooses Mustafar in spite of the planet being the site of his failure against Obi-Wan Kenobi, but because of the strong connection to the dark side of the Force that he found there.
Shortly after arriving, Darth Vader discovers that the mask of Momin is not what it seems. The mask is actually haunted by the ancient Sith Lord’s spirit. The two come to an agreement of sorts, whereas Vader allows Momin to build his castle – what Momin believes will be his final masterpiece – and in turn Momin will show Vader how to access a portal to the afterlife. Through this portal, Momin alludes, those who have passed on can be brought back to the physical world.
For Darth Vader, this is particularly interesting. At this point in his existence, he hasn’t fully given up his love for Padmé Amidala. He also hasn’t forgiven himself for his role in her death, and in large part it’s this guilt and anger that makes him what he is. But inevitably, Momin betrays Vader. Once the castle is finally just right, Momin uses the portal to release himself from the afterlife.
A battle ensues, and of course Vader comes out victorious. That’s where our most recent issue picks up, with Vader shedding his armor and stripping down to just his soul as he enters the portal. The place is reminiscent of the World Between Worlds from Star Wars Rebels, with words from the past and future being whispered from disembodied voices. Most notably, from my point of view, is the phrase “let the past die … kill it if you have to,” which is spoken by Vader’s grandson Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi.
The first revelation from the comic is one that has been the subject of some speculation since The Phantom Menace. We know that Anakin was conceived through the Force, but how did it happen? Was it some sort of Force miracle, or was someone acting with sinister intentions?
According to the imagery used in the comic, the canon explanation appears to be that Palpatine was the one who influenced the Force to get Shmi Skywalker pregnant. And that makes sense, given that only he and Darth Plageuis – another character who many thought might’ve been responsible for Anakin’s conception – are known to have such “unnatural” powers.
While inside the portal, Vader also witnesses an old memory of his life as Anakin on Tatooine. He recalls a nightmare where he faced his two biggest fears: The monster that he would someday become, and sand. No, really. Sand. It’s honestly a fun wink and nod to the fans. Other moments, both past and future, unfold as Vader continues to move forward. This includes both his friendship and battle against Ahsoka Tano, which adds context to his line in Rebels that precedes the fight: “It was foretold you would be here.”
Fast-forwarding a bit, there’s a moment when Vader comes face-to-face with the majority of the known Jedi Knights from Anakin’s past. This is our first clue that some trickery is involved, as Yoda is one of the Jedi that Vader must battle on his way to Padmé. Obviously, Yoda is still alive during this portion of the timeline and his spirit would not be present in the afterlife. Interestingly enough, there is another Jedi present that looks similar to Yoda. That’s the first official confirmation in Star Wars canon of others from Yoda’s unknown species.
Finally, Vader reaches Padmé and suddenly reverts back to his original form as Anakin Skywalker. He pleads with his wife to come with him, in the hope that he could still save her. It’s unknown what Vader’s plan was here. Even if he could have successfully brought Padmé back with him through the portal on Mustafar, he can’t possibly believe she would want to be with him. The end-goal here is unclear.
But Padmé’s response is cold, repeating Anakin’s line from The Phantom Menace and asking if he’s an angel. In the most important line from the comic, Padmé claims not to know the man standing in front of her, because “Anakin Skywalker is dead.” From there things get a bit confusing, as Padmé turns into some sort of demon, throws herself off the balcony, chokes herself as she falls, and is finally hit by a bolt of lightning and incinerated.
This part seems like a bit of overkill – sorry for the pun. The fact that she chokes herself is symbolic of Anakin choking her on Mustafar at the end of Revenge of the Sith, so it makes sense. But jumping off the balcony and getting hit by lightning … it’s a bit much. At any rate, if there’s anything disappointing about the end of the story it’s that Vader never did get to see or speak to the real spirit of Padmé. Instead, it appears that everything he experienced was a dark side manipulation.
Just before he’s thrown back through the portal – which he destroys – Vader sees a short vision of a boy with a blue lightsaber, but he’s unable to get close to him. The comic ends with Vader confirming for the Emperor that he learned a major truth in his time on Mustafar, and while it’s left unsaid, it’s clear that he has finally come to believe that Anakin Skywalker is truly dead.
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