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Introduced in 1977, Dark Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith, is one of the most iconic film villains of all time. Rogue One took us back to the time when Vader's power was at its peak, and gave us a vision of the Dark Lord triumphant; a powerhouse who cuts a terrifying swathe through all who would oppose him!
But Star Wars has always been a lot more than just a series of blockbuster films. Disney rebooted the canon after they were purchased by Disney, and since then, they've been telling a single, brilliant narrative, one that's exploring every corner of our beloved Galaxy Far, Far Away. Needless to say, Darth Vader's star has shone brightly in the new canon — and here are some of his best moments...
1. 'Lords of the Sith'
Set only five years into the age of the Galactic Empire, Lords of the Sith is one of the most chilling Star Wars novels to date. Paul S. Kemp's novel sees Palpatine decide to draw out potential insurgents on Ryloth, while simultaneously testing his Apprentice. Kemp gives us a fascinating glimpse inside the mind of Darth Vader, showing a man whose past is steeped in regret; but time and again he twists the knife, revealing just how far Vader has fallen to the Dark Side. Kemp's vision of Darth Vader is of a man who lives in the shadow of his past — and burns with anger and rage at it. His regrets, his passions, they are the fuel to Vader's Dark Side power.
The Ryloth rebels launch a successful strike against an Imperial Star Destroyer, and soon, Palpatine and Vader are stranded on the hostile surface of Ryloth. It's the perfect setting for a character-rich arc that explores the dynamic between the two Sith Lords, and leaves us taken aback at their raw power. Whether cutting through rebels or alpha predators, Lords of the Sith establishes just how dark a power Vader and Palpatine truly are.
2. 'Star Wars: Rebels'
Season 2 of #StarWarsRebels was a powerful one, with Ezra, Kanan and Ahsoka fleeing Darth Vader and his Inquisitors. It all ends on the surface of Malachor, where Darth Maul seeks the power of an ancient Sith weapon. With his Inquisitors killed, Darth Vader is forced to intervene personally; he soon despatches Ezra Bridger — it plays out like a cat toying with a mouse — but is surprised when his old apprentice, Ahsoka, arrives.
What follows is one of the most fascinating scenes in Rebels, shining a brilliant light into the conflict in Vader's heart. Rather than engage Ahsoka in battle, Vader offers her a chance to switch sides; it's only when she refuses that the duel becomes inevitable. This is one of Rebels's best scenes, with Ahsoka — the woman who trained under Anakin Skywalker — able to give the Sith Lord a battle nobody else could.
Intriguingly, the show chooses to end on an ambiguous note. The Sith Temple collapses, and Darth Vader emerges relatively unscathed; but we never see Ahsoka struck down, nor do we see the body.
3. 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'
Who can forget the close of #RogueOne, which reminds fans worldwide just how powerful a force Darth Vader truly is? He's only in action for a couple of minutes, but in that brief appearance the Sith Lord shows his power like never before. Combining lightsaber skills with Force-telekinesis, Darth Vader cuts a bloody swathe through the Rebels. It's incredible to realize that, for all Jyn and her team suffered on the surface, the fate of the Galaxy is really decided up in space. And it's more by luck — or, perhaps, the will of the Force — that the Tantive IV escapes from Darth Vader.
4. "Vader Down"
The first Star Wars comic book crossover, "Vader Down", is set after the events of A New Hope, and sees Darth Vader's quest for Luke Skywalker lead him into deadly danger. It was a popular event, with writers Kieron Gillen and Jason Aaron working together closely to coordinate the crossover, and it demonstrates the sheer power of Darth Vader like no other comic. The event opens with Darth Vader pursuing Luke to Vrogas Vas, where he unwittingly stumbles on a major Rebel Alliance presence. It sees Darth Vader, a single pilot who is strong in the Force, confronted with a small fleet; and he's able to take down two entire squadrons of X-wings before he's brought down by Luke.
Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are left stranded on Vrogas Vas, each hunting the other, and the Rebel Alliance sees its chance; it moves in all its resources in an attempt to destroy the Sith Lord once and for all. Incredibly, even on foot Darth Vader is a force to be reckoned with. It's a breathtakingly well-executed story, and shows just why the galaxy should fear Darth Vader.
5. 'Battlefront: Twilight Company'
Alexander Freed's Battlefront: Twilight Company is an unusual Star Wars novel, starring front-line soldiers in the Rebel Alliance, and giving a sense of just how dangerous the war against the Empire truly is. Midway, though, the book takes a fascinating twist; a handful of its stars are on Hoth during the Imperial attack of The Empire Strikes Back, and are actually left on the surface. We see the immediate aftermath of the Hoth attack, with Darth Vader himself storming the Rebel base, and yet again we realize just how terrifying a foe the Sith Lord truly is. Although Darth Vader's appearance in Twilight Company may be brief, it's chillingly memorable.
So there you go — these are the highlights of Darth Vader's life in the new, refreshed, Star Wars canon. Lucasfilm is clearly committed to ensuring we see just how terrible and powerful a threat the Sith Lord is; they've pitted him single-handed against fighter squadrons, shown him mow through troops like they were corn in a field, and reminded us all that Darth Vader is truly one of the most powerful forces in the Galaxy.
He can't be stopped. He can't be beaten. But, thankfully for the whole Galaxy, he can be redeemed...