– Spoiler Review –
Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith #1 begins literally right where Revenge of the Sith left off, delving into earliest days of Vader’s Sith training under Emperor Palpatine’s yoke. Written by Charles Soule, who hasn’t disappointed yet with his 3 other Star Wars series, with an art team consisting of Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, and David Curiel, the Dark Lord’s first trials come to brutal and satisfying light in a promising start to the next Darth Vader series!
Issue #1 of Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith takes place mere seconds after Revenge of the Sith‘s Frankenstein’s monster moment for Vader and Emperor Palpatine, immediately kick starting Vader’s full-on Sith training. Charles Soule has said he’s a big fan of Palpatine (he’s managed to have the character appear in two of his previous series, Lando and Obi-Wan & Anakin) and it’s obvious from the earliest of panels here he’s having a blast writing full on Darth Sidious/Palpatine, much as he seemingly was with writing Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in the past. In a way, his work here feels like the spiritual continuation of his scenes in Obi-Wan & Anakin, which showed Palpatine taking Anakin under his wing for the very first time (and sooner than imagined), and DLotS #1’s scenes juxtapose nicely with O&A #3‘s: in O&A, Palpatine begins his fatherly act, playing naive while pushing Anakin’s buttons to get the desired result; in DLotS, Palpatine offers their work together as a partnership, and while he’s still pushing Anakin/Vader’s buttons to get what he wants, gone is the fatherly attitude, exemplified when he puts Vader in his place with blast of Force Lightening.
Said scene is one of my favorites here, as it not only helps Vader understand his place in their hierarchy for the moment, but it also makes Vader’s reluctance all these years to outright attack his Master without assistance even more believable. Vader feels pain, but nothing quite like what Palpatine jolts him with using the Lightening, so mix Palpatine’s show of power with Vader’s desire to live (something he expresses here) like all Sith want and you have a recipe for why Vader got so anxious when he found out about Luke because it was someone he believe who could finally help him defeat and usurp his deadly Master. All in all, I’d say this issue’s Palpatine is one of the best ever written, as he bounces back and forth easily from an angry, heavy, iron-fisted ruler to friendly fellow Sith (that’s an oxymoron) with thinly veiled taunts masquerading as advice or naivety over certain situations (like you know damn well Palpatine purposefully had his ship for Vader stolen so it was harder for his apprentice to get). I’d argue he’s more of the star this issue than the titular character, but the final moments of the issue tease that won’t be for long.
Palpatine drops Vader off on some mid-rim planet alone, without help or Imperial backup, with the simple mission to hunt down a Jedi and take their kyber crystal to create a lightsaber. Any fan of the previous Darth Vader series and its occasional epic displays of Vader’s badassery or even fans of his big moment in Rogue One will not disappointed in the closing moments of the issue, as Vader lays out some intense and very exciting Force-only smack down of the disposable extras who stole the ship Palpatine left for him on the planet. His fury is palpable and the art stunningly conveys it, giving us some striking panels of the Sith Lord’s beat down on some fools. Vader, rightfully so, doesn’t say much and his silence is deafening in a terrifying way during his attack, but this issue doesn’t leave him to dwell to much on his new place in the galaxy as a Sith Lord stuck under a giant set of life-saving armor. I don’t doubt Soule will find more time to dive into Vader’s adjustment to his new life, but as it goes DLotS #1 makes him seemingly comfortable right off the bat. However, my observation regarding a lack of such a plotline comes from an expectation built in by Legends material like Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader where Vader took some time finding his angry place being in the suit and coming to terms with the recent ‘betrayals’ by Padme and Obi-Wan; it’ll be interesting to see if Soule will focus on similar territory or not, but for now I’m extremely happy with his writing, much as I have been before with Lando, O&A, and his other on-going, Poe Dameron, thus I don’t really expect him to disappoint no matter where he goes next.
The team of Giuseppe Camuncoli on pencils, Cam Smith on inks, and David Curiel on colors is one I’m already quite impressed with and they’ve left me eager to see what else they’ll have up their sleeves throughout this series. Despite Vader looking a little skinny and therefore slightly less menacing, he’s given a samurai warrior-like composure, similar to inspirations for his design/looks a tad more like Ralph McQuarrie’s first drawing, which helps me forgive any misgivings I have with his depiction. The splash page in the beginning of the issue was enough to rope me in on Camuncoli’s style and vision, given great definition by Smith, while Curiel’s excellent color scheme—whose colors are familiar (and some of my favorite) from his time with the Kanan comic series—finishes the package. From the quiet moments to the loud, action-packed one, the art team brings every moment to exciting life.
One-shot review “No Good Deed…” by Chris Eliopoulos and Jordie Bellaire – The droid-centric one-shot team hits another enjoyably fun and, this time, morbidly funny home run with their tale of a MSE droid (aka Mouse droid) trying to fulfill Vader’s wishes. Always worth the quick and easy read!
Here are a few other things:
- The information regarding why Sith always have red lightsabers, which is due to them forcing the kyber crystal into submission to their will and rage, thus making them bleed, first came from last year’s novel about Anakin’s apprentice, Ahsoka. It is brought up there because she manages to essentially “un-bleed” an Inquisitor’s kyber, thus giving her the white sabers in Rebels.
- Palpatine and Vader watch an intriguing scene: Mas Amedda publicly reiterating the Jedi were the truly evil ones while burning up their lightsabers to symbolize their destruction (and also help show in-universe one way lightsabers became rare following the Purge).
- Ever wonder what some buttons on Vader’s belt were for? Turns out a few are to adjust his helmet’s eyesight modes.
- The Legends book I mentioned, Dark Lord: The Rise of the Darth Vader, contained one of Vader’s earliest missions post-Revenge of the Sith, something its author, James Luceno, shadow-canoned (though only insofar as mentioning the novel’s planet and the fact Vader went on a mission there) in his canon novel, Tarkin. I wonder if we’ll ever see that mission touched on or mentioned in Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith, as it supposedly still happened around this time era.
- As clarified after this series’ announcement, Dark Lord of the Sith is the official subtitle of this Darth Vader run, though you’d be hard pressed to find it on the individual issues. It’ll be more apparent this isn’t a reboot/restart/or undoing of the first Vader series (a classic seriously not to be missed) when its trade paperback releases.
By the end of Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith #1, my trepidation regarding another Vader-centric series has been thoroughly washed away and pushed off a cliff (much like Vader does to one hapless fool this issue), as this sets up what is sure to be a memorable and dark arc regarding Vader acquiring his Sith lightsaber.
+ Palpatine stealing the show
+ Vader’s display of Force (pun intended) at the end
+ Entire creative team
+ The promise of a good series ahead is strong with this issue #1
Darth Vader (Series 1)
Vader (#1-6) | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12) | The Shu-Torun War (#16-19) | End of Games (#20-25) | Annual: #1
Aphra (#1-6) | And the Enormous Profit (#9-13) | Remastered (#14-19) | Annual: #1
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13) | Legend Lost (#14 – 16) | War Stories (#17-19) | Legend Found(#20-25) | Annual: #1
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader Series 1 on-goings)
Captain Phasma (miniseries)
The Screaming Citadel (crossover of Doctor Aphra and Star Wars on-goings)
Skywalker Strikes (#1-6) | Old Ben’s Journals | Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (#8-12) | Rebel Jail (#16-19) | The Last Flight of the Harbinger (#21-25) | Yoda’s Secret War (#26-30) | Out Among the Stars (#33-37) | Ashes of Jedha (#38-43) | Mutiny at Mon Cala (#44-49) | Annual: #1 | #2 | #3
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu (miniseries)
Darth Maul (miniseries)
Han Solo (miniseries)
Rogue One (adaptation)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (miniseries)
Shattered Empire (miniseries)
Princess Leia (miniseries)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (miniseries)