– Spoiler Review –
Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith issue #7 has a lot to devour, setting up a delicious new arc, “The Dying Light,” which looks to have the potential to match and beat its nearly flawless first six issues. It’s a tall order, but in the series creative team’s vision I trust.
One of the more memorable moments with the Grand Inquisitor during his time in Star Wars Rebels‘ first season were his final words, “You have no idea what you’ve unleashed here today. There are some things far more frightening than death.” It didn’t take long us to learn he meant Darth Vader, and now #7 is allowing us to witness firsthand why the Grand Inquisitor, even as an agent of the Empire trained to hunt down the Jedi, would dread his own Master. Any Force user would be crazy not to be fearful to some extent about Vader, but that Ol’ Grandy would rather die than deal with his punishment says a lot about how Vader is as a Master compared to how he was while still Anakin (look how good Ahsoka turned out!). From the opening page, we see Vader’s aggressive approach to training, literally cutting the Inquisitors apart to help them unlearn what they have learned as Jedi, forcing them to forget their defensive-minded ways and become true aggressors. We know it pays off from their time on Rebels, but it’s interesting to consider how a Jedi who falls to the dark side, not truly as a Sith, might still cling to their past with the light side, and how Vader’s remedy, as ghastly as it seems, is effective in culling those old behaviors.
I had hoped Ol’ Grandy and Vader’s power struggle would provide some entertainment and it looks to be exactly what I wanted. As Vader takes over the Inquisitorius program, the Grand Inquisitor takes umbrage with his training style, believing it to set the Inquisitors up to fail. But Ol’ Grandy realizes there’s power in their position under Vader, as the Emperor giving them to Vader means if the Inquisitors fail, it’s a failure for Vader as well. Whether Grandy will try to take advantage of being able to get Vader in trouble with the Emperor remains to be seen, but considering we know both their fates, we know if he does it won’t have too many lasting effects. However, such a move would result in swift retribution by Vader, which would show Ol’ Grandy why the Sith Lord’s more frightening than death itself. This issue also expands a bit more on Grandy’s reasons for turning, Palpatine promising him access to the Jedi Archives, and how the old archivist Jocasta Nu continually got in his way of unlocking the Archive’s secrets. I wasn’t impressed with this reasoning for Grandy’s fall to the dark side last issue, but diving into it a little more, and seeing how her actions brought out dark side feelings in him, made this background a little more compelling. However, his hatred for Jocasta might actually be a problem for the Sith…
At the end of last issue there was the giant and exciting tease of Jocasta Nu’s survival of Order 66, and issue #7 spares no time in revealing what she’s been up to, where she’s going next, and her importance to Palpatine’s plans. Not content to rest on her laurels, Jocasta has been saving her vast knowledge of the Jedi Archives in holocrons as a potential source of learning for a new school of Jedi, which I’ve come to call Jocasta’s Nu-School for Jedi. Her resolve is sincere and compelling, as her mission to find students to teach at the Nu-School for Jedi presents her convincing agency, going on a mission I never thought a Jedi would so boldly take so soon after Order 66. As we see her stealthily invade Coruscant and sneak into the Jedi Temple, all issue we hear how one dark sider after another believes her to be an old fool and weak: Vader doesn’t understand why she could be important, Ol’ Grandy thinks she’s a hack, while disdain for her is most prevalent in Palpatine’s words about her. But Palpatine tells Vader, and only Vader, that she’s an important target because she is hiding the key to the future of the Empire. I look forward to her proving all these men incorrect about her skills, as she already shows hints at how powerful she might be when she effortlessly mind tricks some clone troopers. And I’m most curious in learning how/where she intends on getting these “students” for her school and if it ties into what Palpatine wants from her. Could it be a holocron of potential Force-sensitive children, something Palpatine tried to have Cad Bane steal from the Jedi Temple during the Clone Wars and they’ve now since hidden better? The eventual mission of the Inquisitors in Star Wars Rebels includes hunting down Force-sensitive kids, so Palpatine and Vader prying the list from Jocasta would fill in how the Inquisitors know about the kids (something explored a little more in the novel Ahsoka, as well). It might end up being something else entirely, but there’s plenty of fascinating potential, no matter what comes from Jocasta’s search and Palpatine’s desired object.
But for Palpatine to get what he wants, he has an unusual order for Vader when going after Jocasta Nu: Vader needs to save her life! As I mentioned earlier, the Grand Inquisitor has quite a bit of hatred for Jocasta and her foolish crusade to restart the Jedi puts her on a collision course with Ol’ Grandy, so Vader has to prevent her inevitable outcome until his Master can coerce her into telling him where his desired treasure hides. Watching how Vader attempts to keep her alive is going to lead to one helluva ride for this arc, I can tell you that.
Charles Soule has already crafted a story that feels as exciting and intriguing as the first arc became, which is saying a lot because “The Chosen One” arc’s 6 issues are some of the strongest beginning material for any series since the Star Wars comics (re)started in 2015, even better than Gillen’s first arc of his Vader series. I don’t say that lightly, as those first six issues gave us my favorite character Doctor Aphra, the murderbots, and revealed Vader learning he had a son. Soule’s Poe Dameron has been a fun, lighthearted adventure, while Lando remains his strongest work to date, but Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith looks to usurp that finally. Along the way, the consistent art team has also been a strength for the series, as the style is slightly exaggerated but fluid, making both action scenes and silent scenes come to vivid, expressive life. This is thanks to Giuseppe Camuncoli (pencils), David Curiel (colors), and Daniele Orlandini (inks). Orlandini replaces Cam Smith on inks, but I can’t say I noticed too much of a difference, which is no disrespect for Smith and plenty of praise for Orlandini for keeping things consistent. While we might curse Joe Caramagna (letterer) for placing some text over the Aurebesh list (see below), as usual he does an impeccable job making dialogue in scenes flow and character’s emphasis and intentions come through clearly.
Here are a few other things:
- A list of Jedi targets, presumed to be alive, is shown in Aurebesh this issue. Here are the translations, in the order they appear on the list: Kayce Beradun, Yoda, Quinlan Vos, Kirak Infil’a, Jocasta Nu, and Ahsoka Tano. There are two more but they are impossible to make out do to the placing of the text and it seems like Soule isn’t going to be telling us who they are. The first name on the list is a brand new one, Legends or Canon, so that’s intriguing, while Yoda should come as no surprise. However, Quinlan Vos’ name appearing is surprising and offers some hope to fans of the character, but it leaves me with mixed feelings. I understand the love for the character, but Vos’ continued existence came at the expense of fridging the excellent and, for those who didn’t read Quinlan’s Legends comic adventures, more important Asajj Ventress (as seen in Dark Disciple). She sacrificed herself for him because she saw the future and realized he had some part to play, so either let Vos live and show why his life was more important than Asajj’s or let him actually be dead (considering this list is of “presumed” alive Jedi) so myself and other Ventress fans don’t have to reopen the wound of her death. As for the rest of the names: we were introduced to Kirak in the first arc, Jocasta is here for arc two, and well, we all know when Vader will get to Ahsoka.
- UPDATE 12/10: Assistant Editor Heather Antos was kind enough to reveal the full list of names, 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.
- Jocasta says something that comes at odds with Luke’s words in the first The Last Jedi teaser. She asserts the Jedi, “…must never be allowed to die…” while Luke seems dead-set on, “The Jedi must die.” The prevailing theory is Luke wants to remake the Jedi into something different, so technically the Jedi won’t die, they’ll just be reborn into something new, and Jocasta echoes that sentiment, “…and why (the Jedi) never will.” Food for thought folks, as TLJ releases next month (as of this writing)!
“The Dying Light” looks to have plenty of potential as Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith #7 brings Jocasta Nu back into the conversation.
+ Jocasta’s Nu-School for Jedi
+ Palpatine’s unexpected orders
+ The conflicts ahead
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)