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The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy introduced us to the character of Anakin Skywalker, and by the end of Revenge of the Sith, we'd seen his fall to the Dark Side. The Clone Wars gave us a sense of just how heroic a Jedi Master he really was, adding a new layer of tragedy to the Skywalker Saga. And Rogue One reminded us just how badass a villain the Sith Lord really is, showing Darth Vader cutting through Rebels like a knife through butter. Now, Marvel Comics is planning to give us a whole new glimpse of the Dark Lord, showing us how he rose to power, from the tortured, agonized cripple at the end of Revenge of the Sith, to the brutal war machine of Rogue One!
Here's What We Know!
#Marvel's just announced a brand new Darth Vader series, essentially a sort of 'Darth Vader: Year One' book. According to writer Charles Soule, it kicks off one second after the end of Revenge of the Sith, and shows how the man who's lost everything regains some semblance of life in Palpatine's Empire. It promises to be a book steeped in Dark Side mythology — after all, this is also when Darth Vader truly became Apprentice to Darth Sidious. Thus, it's also possible we may even get the kind of Dark Side teachings readers loved in Drew Karpyshyn's classic 'Knights of the Old Republic' novels. Expect to see this book plunge into the very heart of the Dark Side!
Charles Soule intends to write this series as an iconic quest, particularly focusing in on Darth Vader's construction of his lightsaber. As long-term Star Wars fans will know, the construction of a lightsaber is an intensely personal experience, one that plumbs the depths of a character's relationship to the Force. Siths in particular have quite a gruelling time of it, as Siths exert their own will upon the blade's Kyber Crystal, a process known as 'bleeding' it. Only a few years ago, Kyber Crystals were an exotic piece of Star Wars lore, known only to fans of the old Expanded Universe. Now, after #StarWarsRebels and the dramatic events of Rogue One, the mythology surrounding these crystals has become far more intriguing. This comic could be a fascinating one for any Star Wars fan.
Fitting into the Broader Canon
This is a period of Darth Vader's life that hasn't been explored yet in the new canon, so Charles Soule has an enviable amount of freedom in terms of continuity. The old Expanded Universe explored it in an official tie-in novel to Revenge of the Sith, James Luceno's Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, but that's no longer counted as part of the canon. Explaining his pitch to IGN, Soule commented:
"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."
The Darth Vader of this new run is one who's fresh to the Dark Side, but is also a man who's now been condemned to an isolated half-life. No doubt his anger and fury over the outcome of his battle with Obi-Wan on Mustafar will push Darth Vader ever further into the Dark Side, making for a fascinating character study.
Perhaps the most intriguing question, though, will be how Darth Vader adapts his fighting style to the armor. As Anakin Skywalker, he relied upon his speed, reflexes and agility; as Darth Vader, those aspects of his fighting style are limited by a cumbersome armor. As we saw in Rogue One, Darth Vader ultimately developed a brutally effective combat style, becoming something of a 'tank' — advance relentlessly, never retreat, rely upon attack and not on defense. It will be fascinating to see the Dark Lord of the Sith develop this style.
The Origin of the Inquisitors
Meanwhile, in a tie-in to Star Wars: Rebels, Soule has teased that we'll also see the origin of the Inquisitors. A major element in Rebels, the Inquisitors are essentially a cult of Dark Siders who serve Darth Vader, helping him scour the Galaxy in pursuit of any Jedi who survived Order 66. If we see Darth Vader form the Inquisitors, then it seems as though we'll see the hunt for the Jedi begin. That makes it very likely the series will also bring Darth Vader into a head-on collision with some of his old Jedi allies — likely with fatal consequences for the Jedi in question. Meanwhile, I can't help wondering if we'll also see Darth Vader establish that incredible fortress we saw on Mustafar in Rogue One...
Here's the interesting thing, though; I've always found the Inquisitors to sit uncomfortably with the Sith emphasis on the Rule of Two. According to Sith lore, there should only ever be two Sith — one Master, one Apprentice; one to embody power, the other to crave it. Why would Palpatine allow Darth Vader to train other Force-users in the arts of the Dark Side? One recent novel, Aftermath: Empire's End, offered a tantalizing hint that Palpatine actually abandoned the Rule of Two after the formation of the Empire; after all, he likely reasoned, the Sith's destiny had finally been fulfilled! It will be fascinating to see if this issue is explored, however subtly.
Marvel's new Darth Vader series, with Charles Soule as writer and Giuseppe Camuncoli as artist, sounds to be a fascinating one. It's also well-timed; releasing in June, just a few months after the DVD and Blu-ray release of Rogue One, it's coming at a time when fans are more fascinated by the Dark Lord of the Sith than ever before. Rogue One showed us just how lethal Darth Vader can be; now Marvel's second Darth Vader series will reveal just how he became so dangerous...