– Spoiler Review –
Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith #11 starts a two issue arc, “The Rule of Five,” with quite the bang, containing an exciting connection to an older, classic comic (also written by Charles Soule) and ending with a delectable surprise.
To this day, Charles Soule’s Lando miniseries is in my top 5 series to date, mini or on-going, as it was full of unexpected twists and turns and one helluva a heartbreaking finale. It also introduced us to a bounty hunter Emperor Palpatine had on speed dial: Chanath Cha, a woman with an intriguing connection to both Lando and Lobot’s past, who quickly became a favorite of mine due to her shrewd capabilities and potential possibilities in stories ahead. So why am I talking about the Lando comic and her? Because in Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith #11, we dive into Chanath’s origins! Vader, along with the Ninth Sister Inquisitor, are out investigating a potential Jedi sighting when Vader is attacked by a group of assailants, who we quickly learn are a family of bounty hunters, a father, mother, and daughter. The daughter turns out to be Chanath, who along with Bhada, her father, and Ramat, her mother, have taken up the bounty on what they believe is a Jedi. They bring to bear an impressive wealth of technology against Vader, including personal shields and a tractor rifle, which shatters Vader’s current saber. The family also has a sense of code and honor in their pursuit of the target, doing their best to ensure only their target is hurt and everyone around knows they mean them no harm. Of course that would probably be a noble ideal against most targets, but this is Vader, and he uses the innocents the Chas unarmed, with an ion grenade, as shields against his attackers. The Chas’ prowess with technology is impressive, as they manage to escape Vader briefly until he catches up again, but it is the combination of Ramat’s slicer skills and Chanath’s parents willingness to stand up to Vader as sacrifice for their daughter which allows them to actually end this issue alive. Notice how I said this issue? Chanath’s parents request to flee after Vader releases her, telling her to survive and swear never to enact revenge for the day’s events, leaving them at Vader’s will. Chanath seems to really take the oath to heart, because even if Vader does kill her parents, she still ends up taking jobs from Palpatine later in life; However, in Lando we do see her spare her old acquaintances Lando and Lobot, despite what Palpatine would really want, so she’s still got the family’s honor code in her. Overall, this a pretty fantastic, unexpected connection, and even if you haven’t read Chanath’s previous(future) appearance, her and her family’s capabilities, honor, and dynamic should be intriguing enough for new readers as well. More Chanath is always appreciated!
The Chas uncover the source of the bounty on Vader’s head and it seems to be…Palpatine!? I know the Sith Master/Apprentice dynamic is a nasty one, where they are always
trying to kill each other, I mean, always trying to test one another in strenuous, unpredictable ways, but for Palpatine to send a hit squad on Vader so soon after his recent success with Jocasta Nu is a little surprising. Maybe Palpatine figured out or is calling Vader’s bluff about the list of Jedi younglings he destroyed, an attempt to prevent his master from replacing him, or I shouldn’t be surprised with this move because Sith are strange, bizarre, and vicious creatures. There is a possibility someone is setting up Palpatine, mayhaps the Grand Inquisitor in hopes Vader will face his Master and be killed, but I’m going to bet on this as Palpatine just being Palpatine. But he might have an even more interesting reason…
The dynamic between Vader and the Ninth Sister was pretty refreshing, as she’s not trying to usurp him in any way nor putting up with his cryptic, silent shit either. He calls for her help in the middle of the Chas’ attack and she shrugs, content to sit outside and let him deal with the problem on his own. But more intriguing was her insight to Vader’s broken psyche, as she calls him out for an addiction to fighting Jedi and he avoids the subject, but her specialties in the Force allow her to know otherwise. She basically claims he’s trying to commit suicide by throwing himself at any and all Jedi, almost like he has survivor’s guilt, and this is quite the observation to make about Vader. But like anyone in such a position, Vader doesn’t realize he has said guilt, which is why he’s been making the Inquisitors take the backseat while he gets in on the action, something we’ve seen before with how he handled Jocasta and the Grand Inquisitor and what we’re seeing here at the slightest mention of a Jedi sighting. This ties into why I believe Palpatine is truly the one who put the hit on Vader, but it’s not for the normal Sith Master/Apprentice reasons, as I’m guessing he too has noticed Vader’s survivor guilt attitude. What good is Vader to him dead at this point if there are no potential replacements now that the list of the younglings is destroyed and Dr. Cylo’s cyborg replacements are decades away? Sure, there are the Inquisitors, but Palpatine said, in issue #6, they belong to the Sith, making it sound like he considers them unworthy candidates at this point. What Palpatine hopes this attack on Vader achieves towards course correcting his apprentice remains to be seen, and I could be reading this all wrong, but I’m intrigued to see if/how the next and final issue of “The Rule of Five” arc handles this. If I’m reading this right, and whatever Palpatine’s plans are work, it fits in with why Vader is seen taking a back seat to the Jedi hunting by the time of Star Wars Rebels, allowing the Inquisitors to take point, because he’s gotten over this guilt…for the most part.
Returning on art are Giuseppe Camuncoli (pencils), Daniele Orlandini (inks), and David Curiel (colors), and of course the work this team puts out is still gorgeous work. From the splash page panels of Vader entering the bar like from an old Western, the high speed chase, or the resolve on the Chas’ faces, this team continues to impress with each issue. However, while in the bar, in the dim lighting, I became confused between Chanath and her mom, Ramat, but once they were out in the daylight it was easier to tell them apart. Also contributing this arc again is Joe Caramagna on lettering, who gets to bring a lot of crashing and slashing noises to life with Vader around.
Here are a few other things:
- Considering Vader’s current saber, aka Kirak’s saber, is shattered but the crystal is intact, will we finally see Vader build his iconic blade? The cover for issue #12 suggests, lacking all subtly, we will!
- I really hope the Ninth Sister survives for a while longer because her sass is greatly appreciated.
- Getting to see Chanath’s past in this issue was a neat little crossover and by-product of keeping writers around for multiple projects, like how Kieron Gillen did something similar by bringing his Vader series character Queen Trios into the Star Wars series. Speaking of crossovers though, this series’ next arc will see Vader going to Mon Cala to bring it to heal for the Empire, undoing his work in The Clone Wars, but at the same time the mainline Star Wars series will take the Big Three there to liberate the planet from the Empire’s grasps. I’m very curious to see how they connect these two series across time this way, but I hope to see this kind of stuff happening in the future!
- Chanath’s only other appearance in the comics was a cameo in the first Darth Vader series, issue #16.
- Um, I’m pretty sure we have our first Bothan appearance this issue!
Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith #11’s unexpected, but welcomed origin story and a possible attempt to fix Vader’s survivor guilt certainly makes this two issue arc into something grand already.
+ Chanath Cha origin story
+ Ninth Sister’s insight to Vader’s broken psyche and all it implies
CURRENT COMIC SERIES REVIEWS:
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
Ashes of Jedha (#38-43) | Mutiny at Mon Cala (#44-49) | Annual: #3
One-Shots: The Last Jedi – Storms of Crait | The Last Jedi – DJ: Most Wanted