– Spoiler Review –
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith #6 both wraps up lingering threads of the current arc while setting up the next, but despite slowing down to do so, the series continues to captivate.
Having cast off, for now, the final remnants of Anakin and any hopes for redemption after bleeding the kyber crystal last issue, Vader is settling into his new life as a Sith. He even goes so far as to get angry (okay, his default response is anger at this point, but still) at the concept of someone else adjusting his suit, so eager is he to modify it with his own engineering know how. Palpatine even approves of his meddling, pleased to see Vader accepting his fate and new role.
But there’s no rest for the wicked, as despite the beating he took from his battle with Kirak Infli’a and his struggle with the kyber crystal, the baby Sith Lord (as writer Charles Soule likes to call him in the Marvel Insider videos) is thrust into action once again: there’s an intruder in the old Jedi Temple (yet to be converted to the Imperial Palace) and Vader must stop them. The intruder, which the cover and the solicts have already given away, is indeed the Grand Inquisitor aka Ol’ Grandy as I used to call him in Star Wars Rebels reviews. It’s exciting to see him again, knowing his fate and hand in Kanan Jarrus’ knighting, so to see him in these earlier days, clashing with Vader before he learns to bow to him, looks to add new layers to the character. In fact, details on how the Grand Inquisitor fell from the Jedi Temple Guard to the dark side are being slowly unearthed, as Palpatine tells Vader the Inquisitor was frustrated with his lack of access to the Jedi Order’s higher secrets so Palpatine promised the Inquisitor the knowledge he sought; It’s backstory I’ve wanted for Ol’ Grandy, but it wasn’t as deep or intriguing as I would’ve guessed. Watching how Vader and Grandy’s power struggle will play out should provide plenty of entertainment, and it’s unlikely to be easy for Vader considering Grandy has several lesser Inquisitors loyal to him first and foremost. Beyond that, diving into the Inquisitorius is something I’ve been clamoring for since they were brought into canon by Rebels, and I’ll be curious to see how deeply this dives into it.
My favorite moment of the issue stems from a conversation between Vader and Palpatine, as it’s foreshadowing/mirroring a conversation they’ll one day have that we’ve already seen in the previous Darth Vader series. Here in Dark Lord of the Sith #6, Vader questions Palpatine’s decision to blindly throw the Grand Inquisitor at one another without telling them about each other, wondering if Ol’ Grandy would’ve been at Palpatine’s side had he defeated Vader. Palpatine responds with his own question, inquiring Vader if he really believes Ol’ Grandy could’ve defeated him in the first place. If that smells like evading to you, you’d not be wrong, as Palpatine sidesteps the accusation because Vader can’t bring himself to actually accuse his Master of seeking a replacement for him despite everything he’s done up until that point. In Vader Series 1, issue #20, Vader doesn’t ask his Master this question, instead he states it as a cold, hard fact that Palpatine would’ve easily welcomed one of the replacements Dr. Cylo had been breeding had Vader not defeated them/revealed Cylo as a traitor. This time, Palpatine doesn’t even answer, as Vader reveals he doesn’t care in the end because he’s more than proven himself worthy/sees Palpatine for what he really is: overconfident. Vader isn’t quite bold enough to make such a declaration here, but I love that the seed for one of previous series’ top moments/best Palpatine and Vader conversation are planted here. However, I don’t know if this was intentional on Soule’s part, but I instantly thought of that moment from Kieron Gillen’s series and the parallels are uncanny.
Now, how about that final page reveal! Sure, I’ve mentioned the solicitations in previous reviews which uncovered the next Jedi target, but it’s still a pretty surprising and exciting reveal: Jocasta “If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist” Nu!! Out of all the prequel Jedi one would’ve imagined to see potentially having survived Order 66, the most unlikely is Jocasta Nu, making her continued existence all the more thrilling to consider. How did she survive? What are her plans for collecting the Jedi knowledge to keep away from the Sith? Has she been humbled to learn that if it doesn’t appear in the Jedi Archives, it actually could exist? The idea that it’ll take both the Grand Inquisitor and Darth Vader to stop her machinations seems astonishing, but never underestimate the old librarian.
While this issue serves primarily as set up and slows down the pace a lot, to the point not a whole lot happens, it’s still as engrossing as the previous issues of this series have been, which all comes down to creative team. Soule manages to build off the riveting ending to the main story of “The Chosen One” arc in issue #5 and uses the momentum from that to revisit Palpatine and Vader’s relationship after their shocking (pun intended) issue #1 convo, which is exactly what the readers ordered after 5 issues of action and misery for Vader. And the art team of Giuseppe Camuncoli on pencils, Cam Smith on inks, and David Curiel on colors get to show off their penchant for solid action sequences in Vader’s battle with the Grand Inquisitor, while the quiet moments are just as vivid and powerful, from the anger in Vader’s eyes at the idea someone else would rebuild his suit to the final panel with Jocasta in exile, proving we’ve been blessed by having such a talented art team.
Here are a few other things:
- Curiously, the lightsaber Vader constructed with his new crystal is seemingly NOT the one he has by the original trilogy era. I wonder if we’ll get to see this one destroyed and him building his iconic saber sometime later in this series or perhaps it’ll just be another story for another time.
- Vader pulls the same move we first saw Kanan do in “Fire Across the Galaxy,” placing his blade(s) within the circle of the Inquisitor’s circular handle. Adds a whole new level to the shock on the Grand Inquisitor’s face when Kanan does it, as we can now assume he’s probably thinking the last person he saw do that was Vader, which could also help prompt his forewarning to Kanan about his masked master.
- Rebels fans will be familiar with the other Inquisitors seen in this issue: Seventh Sister, Fifth and Eighth Brother. There were some new ones, include one that looked similar to Grummgar’s species, the giant couch lounging alien seen in Maz’s Castle in The Force Awakens and an unidentifiable one with some exotic armor compared to the rest.
- Since Vader is modifying his armor, I guess he never does it thoroughly enough to find Dr. Cylo’s kill-switch controls.
- The newest episode of Inside Marvel on Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith was actually shot at NYCC at the The Last Jedi booth. As you can imagine, there’s some audio issues, but Kieron does touch on the moment from issue #20 of his series being similar to Palpatine/Vader’s conversation here. They also all play coy about Jocasta’s reveal at the end.
The final issue of Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith‘s first arc wraps up hanging threads and sets up exciting new places for the series to go, which I have no doubt will be just as compelling as everything before it.
+ Grand Inquisitor (re)introduced!
+ Vader and Palpatine’s understanding…for now
+ Jocasta Nu!!
– Ol’ Grandy’s motivations for switching aren’t very compelling
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 (#9-14) | Annual: #1
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13) | Legend Lost (#14 – 16) | War Stories (#17-19) | 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) | 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)