Consider me completely surprised and initially perplexed by this announcement: we’re getting a new Darth Vader comic in June, a second series subtitled Dark Lord of the Sith, set mere seconds after the events of Revenge of the Sith. Considering the first series only just finished its run a few months back and is highly lauded by most fans and critics, it seems a little strange to go back to Vader so soon, but the potential hidden in the story Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith wants to tell, like focusing on Vader as a character getting used to his new life or the start of the Inquisitors first seen in Star Wars Rebels, and it being written by Charles Soule, I feel like there’s enough here to actually get excited for it. More thoughts and further details about the new series below!
There’s something I would like to discuss first before diving into what this series will entail and it’s simply this: we shouldn’t compare Series 2 to 1. My initial trepidation regarding this new Darth Vader series stems from how much I’ve come to love and adore the first one, written by Kieron Gillen with art by Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado, but at the end of the day this is not the original’s sequel and nor is it trying to tell the same story. It’s centered around Darth Vader sure, but with the character at such a different place and point in his life, it’ll naturally be and feel like a brand new series. Whether we needed another Vader-centric series so soon is a whole different discussion, but to dismiss this series out of hand due to a previous one would be a disservice to the excellent writer, Charles Soule, and his vision for Dark Lord of the Sith.
In his interview with IGN about the new series Soule had this to say about the character of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader at this moment in time, freshly burnt from the events of Revenge of the Sith and how it compares to the Vader from the first comic series,
“I would say that in Kieron’s series, you had a man who had been doing that job and was sort of accustomed to his reality in a way that this Vader is not. So [in this new series] the fire is burning very, very bright in terms of his hatred and anger and the things he’s trying to work through. He’s trying to understand himself, whereas Vader in Gillen’s series was almost sort of an older crocodile that’s been around for a long, long time and has no real enemies or challenges. Obviously there were challenges in that book, but this is someone who’s very, very sure of his place in the universe and galaxy. It was kind of about topping that a little and taking that away from him and seeing what he did,” Soule explained of the differences between the two series. “Now this is more someone who isn’t sure what’s going to happen to him. He doesn’t know if he’s going to be alive in two weeks or 40 years. He doesn’t know what his day to day is going to look like and he doesn’t know what his purpose is. So it’s about trying to understand that, what life without Padme is like, and just kind of understand what it means to be a Sith lord, because all this stuff is new to him. And really exploring the Dark Side in an open way where he doesn’t have to be ashamed, doesn’t have to hide from the Jedi, can really go deep into it.”
As always, Soule sounds like he has a really good grasp on the main character of the series he is writing no matter the time period it is set, as this all sounds like fertile ground for more character-driven work in peeling back some layers of the psyche of Darth Vader. We had got something similar in Legends, the rather very good Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (by James Luceno), which covered the “coping” period Anakin had with his new life post-RotS, and I really found the way Luceno approached this era for Vader to be the true and exciting highlight of the novel and it helped put Anakin’s decisions in perspective. I don’t doubt Soule will be able to bring his own unique, but equally strong approach to the same psychological journey for Anakin/Vader. And as much as the first series was certainly about a plot by Vader to regain his standing in the Empire/Emperor’s eyes, it developed some big moments for Vader as a character and those were among its strongest moments, so knowing there’s a real focus on uncovering more about Vader as a person makes me have faith this series could very well be something good.
The fact that at some point in this new on-going we’ll uncover more details surrounding the Inquisitors, first seen in Star Wars Rebels, is one of the biggest reasons I’m excited about Dark Lord of the Sith. Ever since we learned the Grand Inquisitor from S1 of the show was previously a Jedi Temple Guard, myself and many fans have been curious to uncover how he went from such a position to hunting down younglings and Jedi for the Empire. There could be a very interesting story there, as I’m sure old Grandy didn’t switch without some sort of a fight, and while I’m still holding out hope that could be a comic or novel in-of-itself, this wouldn’t be the worst place to first sink our lightsabers into the story. Either way, I’d be pretty surprised if the Grand Inquisitor wasn’t part of the Inquisitor storyline at some point in this series.
Over Soule’s Star Wars comics writing career he’s written one of the best Emperor Palpatine’s in recent memory, as seen in the pretty fantastic Obi-Wan & Anakin, and considering that’s his favorite character, it’s good to know he’ll get to spend some time writing even more Palpatine for this series. Also, the announcement goes on to say part of the focus of the first arc will be Vader constructing his first Sith lightsaber, and while that isn’t exactly the most intriguing topic I’d want to see explored, it’ll be interesting to see, for the first time visually, the “bleeding” process a Sith puts a kyber crystal through (as introduced to canon in Ahsoka). Those visuals will come from artist Giuseppe Camuncoli, who has previously worked on Spider-Man comics; Talk about a big switch in characters, as one’s an acrobatic mutant and the other is a giant, lumbering Sith Lord. Soule seems pretty happy with his work so far,
“…the interesting thing is seeing him do or draw a character who is almost like a masked truck moving through scenes in a very methodical, unstoppable way. Not that he’s not fast. Not that he’s not powerful, it’s just a different way of movement, a different type of movement. And also, getting the deep emotion into the activities, because you really want to be able to see past that mask and feel what he’s thinking and feeling….And so thank goodness that Camuncoli is drawing it because he’s able to do all those things.”
UPDATE 3/11/17: There’s now another interview with Soule, this time at the official site, where he talks a little bit more about how the series will cover Palpatine/Vader’s relationship (“Vader and Palpatine are connected by true emotion, even if it’s twisted and dark. Palpatine is the only father Anakin ever knew, and just because their relationship has…evolved, let’s say…it doesn’t mean the core is gone.”), the start of the Inquisitor program (“The Lucasfilm Story Group had a ton of it worked out, and were able to download those foundations to me to build on. Lots of cool stuff to come with the Inquisitors.”), and a few other things. Also, a look at the very cool cover for the 2nd issue!
UPDATE 3/21/17: Soule is back under the wire for another interview and included are some preview panels from the upcoming first issue (via Marvel)!
UPDATE 6/7/17: My review of the first issue is here!
Here are a few other things:
- Seems like Soule trolled everyone about this new series back in December, as his tweet certainly makes a lot more sense now! Also, Soule has taken to Twitter to confirm Poe Dameron will not be ending just because he’s writing this new series.
- Sidenote: while The Rise of Darth Vader is still Legends, some of the events have been shadow canon-ed by Luceno in his first of the new canon novels, Tarkin, so I’m curious to see if we’ll get to hear those events mentioned again here in some offhanded way.
- So far I would say Soule hasn’t had a single dud, as he’s written Lando, Obi-Wan & Anakin, and Poe Dameron, but the latter two have had a little bit of ups and downs compared to the classic, excellent run of Lando. In fact, Lando is among my top 5 all time so far.
- Considering Doctor Aphra is my favorite comic character, and high in my list of overall characters, it’s weird to think of a Darth Vader series without her. Thankfully, she has her own series anyways, and it’s been damn good! Will this new series spawn any new fan favorites?
Once Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith drops in June, you can expect reviews on the site as soon as possible.
Doctor Aphra and Star Wars Comics Star in Marvel’s The Screaming Citadel Crossover
You Can Read the Rogue One Comic Adaptation in April…the Captain Said So
Darth Maul Comic Series Set to Unleash the Sith in February 2017
Marvel Strikes Back: Star Wars Comics 2016 Year-In-Review
Doctor Aphra Comic Series Announced, Drops December! (UPDATED)
Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith (Series 2)
The Chosen One (1-6)
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
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) | Annual: #1 | #2
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13)
Han Solo (mini-series)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Darth Maul (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)