– Spoiler Review –
The fear-filled respect Imperial Officers have when they see Vader is built up in Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith issue #12, as Vader deals with a bounty placed on his head from within the highest levels of the Empire, making this a perfect coda to these recent arcs.
When Vader is attacked by the bounty hunting Cha family last issue, they use a device which ends up shattering Vader’s ‘borrowed’ lightsaber from Kirak. The crystal survived the attack however, and he retrieves it, so the question quickly became: will Vader build his iconic blade next? A rarity, but the cover of this issue did directly reflect the content within, as the full cover shows Vader wielding his iconic lightsaber hilt, and we get to see him assemble it here. It’s pretty awesome to finally see him holding the blade we know he’ll terrorize the galaxy with over the next two decades, but it didn’t have the same impact as how he got his first Sith saber or how he corrupted the kyber. It would’ve been interesting if we’d gotten a little insight into why he chose the design he did, kind of like in The Clone Wars “Younglings” arc when the droid Huyang used the personalities of the younglings to pick the design best suited for them, but regardless he now has the hilt we all remember and I’m happy to see him with it. He is getting much closer to Vader we know and will fear in the time of Star Wars Rebels and the Original Trilogy, so this was a necessary step as he grows into a full-fledged Sith Lord.
The Chas attacked Vader because a hit had been put out on him, and when they bargained for their daughter’s life, Chanatha Cha, in exchange for uncovering who put the hit out on him, their findings seemed to imply the Emperor himself! I didn’t quite believe it would be the Emperor, considering he just got Vader and there are no potential replacements for the time being because a certain list of potential younglings was destroyed (by Vader, natch), but since there were some hints from the Ninth Sister Inquisitor that Vader had a bit of survivor’s guilt going on, I wondered if the Emperor was trying to shake him out of it. My other, more likely theory, had been that the Grand Inquisitor was setting Vader up to attack his Master, die, and ol’ Grandy could take his place. Turns out, I was pretty damn far off because it was…a random Imperial officer Vader choked at the beginning of issue #8?!?! Well, maybe, as it’s never made specifically clear if he’s the officer plotting Vader’s death, seeing as the only time we see the conspirators, they are at a bar where everyone wears masks and no one’s name is mentioned. There is evidence it was choked officer, from the fact he’s on a list of people who had access to transmit the kill orders in a way that sets up the Emperor, to him sweating at a big official meeting of all the officers with Vader and Palpatine, so I think it’s safe to assume it was him. The conspirators want Vader dead both because he’s choking officers and he comes out of nowhere, with no restrictions, and all the power, something they don’t like as it means chaos and risk within their newly formed Empire of peace and order. To take out his enemies, Vader has Palpatine invite all the officers to a meeting where he is formally introduced to them, and there he picks 5 “random” names, 4 of which appear on the list I mentioned earlier (and translated below! I updated the list as I forgot to translate one of the names), and chokes them to death. The whispers through the Imperial ranks of what messing with Vader results in begins here!
Other things from issue #8 are revisited here. In issue #12, Palpatine tells Vader he enjoys having power because it creates an endless list of enemies for him to slaughter, something he’s wanted Vader to learn since issue #8. Back then, after Vader chokes the officer he kills this issue, Palpatine warns him not to kill anyone and everyone who angers him, as neither of them will have a galaxy to rule over then, so now Vader has learned the lesson on how to keep creating enemies to kill, instead of indiscriminately killing everyone.
Also from issue #8, we once again get a glimpse inside Vader’s inner mind-space, a red, stormy sea, which has been a stunning depiction of the turmoil raging inside of him. In my review of that issue, I said it’s my headcanon for what Luke saw that allows him to say there’s still good in Vader, as the good is represented inside Vader’s mind by little blue butterflies, surviving against the raging storm. After Vader murders the officers to teach them all a lesson, his meditation session into this inner landscape ends with him snuffing out several butterflies, the slow but painful process of him extinguishing the remaining vestiges of good inside of him.
I like that Charles Soule gets to write these codas into his arcs for Vader, as it helps wrap up some lingering threads while allowing the rest of the arc to focus on whatever the big action/plot happens to be. Alongside him have been the excellent art team of Giuseppe Camuncoli (pencils), Daniele Orlandini (inks), and David Curiel (colors). who continue to blow me away every time we visit the tumultuous mindscape of Vader, impress me as they make Vader a sleek, but intimidating presence, and tackle new locales and ideas with aplomb.
Here are a few other things:
- That mask Palpatine is holding while they dig through the remains of Jocasta Nu’s secret room in the Jedi Archives? If you’ve read Soule’s Lando mini, you’ll recognize it, as it is a mask Lando and his crew find on Palpatine’s personal ship, which has the ability to twist the hearts and minds of any who stare into its eyes. Between Chanath Cha’s origins, also from the same miniseries, and this mask, cool way for Soule to call back to his earlier work!
- Don’t want to translate the names in Aurebesh on Vader’s visor? I’ve got you covered! From top to bottom: Corin Ferro, Wilhuff Tarkin, Jer Croteau, Cassio Tagge, Joon Strephi, Tomas Azoras, Zorta Bingan. Some familiar names, and some suddenly dead ones!
- Thankfully, the sassy Ninth Sister is still alive and I hope we get to spend more time with her in some stories ahead!
- The upcoming arc will be part of a new type of crossover Marvel is trying, as the repercussions of Vader’s attack on Mon Cala to bring it in line will be seen in the Star Wars mainline series when the Rebellion goes there to free the planet from the Empire. Can’t wait to see how this pans out, because it’s a concept I’d rather see for crossovers than what we’ve gotten in the past.
With Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith #12, the birth of an Imperial’s fear and respect for Vader makes for a great ending to the little two issue arc, “The Rule of Five,” and plays as a wonderful coda for “The Dying Light,” the whole of which is named the “Legacy’s End” arc.
+ Vader learning how to strike fear into the officers without having to kill them all
+ Vader’s iconic lightsaber…
– …which is introduced without much fanfare
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