– Spoiler Review –
Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith #9 is an intense, exhilarating issue which puts Jedi Archivist Jocasta Nu’s back against the wall, where she proves she will not go down without quite the epic fight. Get to reading this series, pronto!
After Jocasta Nu makes the dangerous choice of confronting the Grand Inquisitor for defiling her Jedi Archives, instead of escaping with the list of Force sensitive children, we’re treated to a rather fair battle of wits and lightsabers between the two combatants. I originally found Ol’ Grandy’s reasons for defection hinging on not being able to read books in the archive a little flimsy, but thankfully issue #9 gives the usually chatty Inquisitor a chance to explain himself a bit more. His fall has nuance and complexity now, as he struggled to feel comfortable with the Jedi and due to Jocasta’s denial of his requests to peruse the archives, his darker impulses prevailed. It’s an interesting and small series of events, but I’d relish the chance to see the Inquisitor’s struggles while the Jedi were still alive, as I’m curious to see how he fell through the cracks of the Order, as I imagine someone must have sensed it/try to help him. If there’s one disappointing thing about this issue, it’s that Ol’ Grandy’s name isn’t revealed here, as Jocasta doesn’t seem to recall him, but the lack of it is so minor and inconsequential in the end that it tells you how good this issue was overall.
Just when Ol’ Grandy gets the upper hand, Darth Vader arrives to save the day! (Never thought I’d get to say that in a sentence.) Confusing the living Force out of both the Inquisitor and Jocasta, Vader swoops in to honor Palpatine’s orders about keeping Jocasta alive, her knowledge and command of the archives to be used as a tool and asset before her death. However, Jocasta is not only a tough cookie, using Vader’s distraction to get some distance, she’s a smart one too, figuring out Vader’s role in the slaughter of the Jedi and his reasons for keeping her alive. Furthering my sentiments that she’s no fool, she realizes the situation she’s in and takes a surprising and drastic measure, one I didn’t think she would: deleting the entirety of the Jedi archives! Sure, she has the little archives at her Nu-School for Jedi, but completely wiping such a vast and storied wealth of knowledge is a big deal. It’s a great moment for her character, as we already know she’s marked for death, so with this action she’s able to have some type of win out of the situation she finds herself in, even if the Force sensitive children list is still on the line.
Vader’s march to catch up with Jocasta reminded me of a horror film, thanks to the art, how he manages to catch up, and the “hero” talking down to the approaching monster (It’s one of many epic moments in the issue). He finds the door to Jocasta’s secret room wide open, only to be confronted by Jocasta’s guardian droid, who identifies Vader as Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker (due to a bioscan)! Vader, having recently expunged as much of Anakin as he could when bleeding the kyber crystal, does not appreciate being referred to as Anakin, and he proceeds to absolutely decimate the droid, taking out his anger at the slight in a very visceral way. While it’s pretty much already a given Jocasta wouldn’t survive this arc, I hoped maybe she’d make it off Coruscant alive but bring Vader to her Nu-School and have it destroyed too, her fate was sealed here due to her overhearing the droid call Vader by his real name. I can’t wait to see how she’ll handle the fight against Vader now that she knows he’s Anakin, but I’m now sure she’ll not make it off Coruscant. Regardless, she’s not going to go down without a fight, and I found myself whooping and hollering for the archivist when she pulls out a bizarre, ancient looking blaster (with the Jedi Order symbol on it), pillaging her secret archives for tricks to fight off Vader due to her lack of combat prowess. I wonder what other tricks she’ll have up her sleeves…
“The Dying Light” arc has lived up to expectations set by the opening issue, as Charles Soule has crafted another tightly paced and exciting series of events for the arc. There’s also been a great balance between action and character moments, with issue #9 being the strongest entry yet, which is saying quite a bit due to the strength of the past several issues. This new Vader series has been a must-read since day one and it hasn’t wavered from its status as unmissable. The strength of the storytelling is bolstered by the art team, Giuseppe Camuncoli (pencils), Daniele Orlandini (inks), and David Curiel (colors). From the opening shot of Vader standing on the speeder, the Coruscant Opera House in the background, to Jocasta’s final stand with the explosive blaster, both the action and little character moments come to exciting, visceral life. I can’t accurately state just how well the art team has been for the series as a whole, capturing Vader’s early menace and uncertainty and making it look effortless, while also getting the Grand Inquisitor’s sneer just right or showcasing Jocasta’s determination against all odds.
Here are a few other things:
- How cool was it that the guardian droid just snatches Vader’s thrown lightsaber out of the air like it’s nothing? His skills didn’t matter much once Vader got up close and personal, though.
- A list of presumed alive Jedi was shown in issue #7, but two of the names were cut off due to the lettering placement. Assistant Editor Heather Antos was kind enough to reveal the full list, without the lettering, so now we can make out the final two names: Kule Xandar and Naia Taver. Just like the first name on the list, they are new characters, but mainly Easter Egg status, as Story Group member Matt Martin warns, so don’t go looking for Snoke here, folks.
- This is the final issue of the series for the calendar year of 2017 and I’m already trying to narrow down what moment from this series will make my Top Five Moments for my annual comics year-in-review, but the choice has not been easy!
Phew! Another exhilarating issue of Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith is in the books and things don’t look like they’ll slow down any time soon. If you’ve missed out on this series so far, do yourself a favor and catch up as soon as possible!
+ Jocasta deleting the Jedi Archives
+ Adding nuance to the Grand Inquisitor
+ The old archivist is not going to go down without a fight!
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) | 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)