Lords and ladies, comic book day is upon us again, and this time it brings with it the triumphant (hopefully) return of perhaps not the greatest, but the most revered Dark Lord of the Sith ever: Darth Vader. The previous Darth Vader series was, overall, my favorite of the new Marvel offerings to date, so I have high hopes for Vader’s return to the medium. Was it necessary to churn out a new Darth Vader book so soon after ending his first run? No, of course not. But I think his surge in popularity from his parts in Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels certainly influenced the decision…anyway, that debate is pointless because, regardless of whether you think he should be or not, he’s back! Now, let’s see what he’s up to, shall we?
Darth Vader #1
Unbeknownst to the audience until now, a good bit of time passes between Vader’s infamous, Frankenstein’s Monster-esque, “Noooooooooooooooo!” and his appearance next to Tarkin and the Emperor as they survey construction of the first Death Star in Revenge of the Sith. Neat, huh? Anyway, The book begins in proper by showing Vader Force toss his master across the room as he continues his explosive Force rage that we see in the film. As you’d expect, getting slammed against a wall didn’t sit well with ol’ Sheev, so, after explaining that Padme’s death gave Vader the gift of pain and Vader declares that he intends to live and use that gift, Palpatine Force lightnings the bejesus out of him. Palpatine asks where his lightsaber is, tells him to defend himself, but Vader responds that he can’t because Obi-wan took his lightsaber. This only infuriates Palpatine because he didn’t mean that lightsaber – “That blade belonged to another, a Jedi.” This bit is interesting to me because it states, pretty distinctly, in my opinion, that, even though Darth Vader used the blue blade that was Anakin Skywalker’s, it was still Anakin Skywalker’s Jedi weapon and not a dark-tinged Sith weapon. That may answer the riddle of why a clearly better trained Kylo Ren couldn’t pull the weapon to him, but Rey could: the lightsaber was still drawn to the light. Anyway, Palpatine tells Vader never to touch him with the Force again or he’ll kill him, but that they’re still totes bros. Then they go watch my main man Mas Amedda give a rousing speech as some clone troopers toss a bucket of lightsabers into a barrel to light on fire (a fire that erupts and sends a blue beam into the sky). During this speech, Palpatine explains to Vader that kyber crystals bleed, and that’s where the crimson color of rage comes from, and that Sith lightsabers are not given, they’re taken. Now on a shuttle somewhere in the Mid Rim, Palpatine says that he needs Vader’s help with his high hopes for the galaxy, but that Vader first needs a lightsaber. So Palpatine drops Vader off on this (shocker) desert-looking planet, saying that he’d left a ship for him but that it was apparently stolen…as I’m sure he expected, or foresaw, or whatever…with Palpatine gone and Vader alone, we see him make adjustments on his belt that change the hue of his lenses – so, is that how he goes from having red lenses in Rogue One to the black glass we see in A New Hope? I think so…I think that’s the entire point of showing that…and I dig it. For the last act of the book, we see the ship Palpatine mentioned in the hands of a couple spacers. It’s a very rad-looking ship that’s an interesting mix of Maul’s Sith Infiltrator and the sleek designs of the Naboo ships. Tracking it to this location, I’m sure, Vader gives us a preview of the battle he’ll have with his son in Empire Strikes Back by tossing chunks of whatever’s loose(ish) at the would-be RPG group that stole the wrong ship…during the encounter, a cool-looking Pau’an scoundrel gets a shot in on the saber-less Dark Lord and, foolishly, gloats about it…only to be tossed off the edge of a cliff with the Force. Vader finishes off all but one of the group, using some of human shields as he makes his way to the assumed leader…and promptly slams his face into the ground with the Force. And so ends the first issue of the new Darth Vader series…(there’s also an add-on silly story about Vader killing a bunch of people that bother him, including a mouse droid, but whatever, that was all that matters)…
So, what did you think? I don’t want to say that I was disappointed, because that’s not necessarily accurate, but I am certainly not over the moon about this issue…I think my expectations may have been a bit too high…it was definitely a “setup” issue, if that makes sense…I’ll reserve judgement until at least the third issue, but I can already say I enjoy it more than the Stonepower saga or the Screaming Citadel, so that’s a plus…what about you? Are you head over heels for this, or did you find it kind of lacking? What do you think about Palpatine saying the fabled blue lightsaber that belonged to Anakin was still a Jedi weapon? How ’bout the way Vader is able to change the lenses of his helmet, does that clear that possible continuity error for you, or do you think it’s a cop out? Give the book a thorough second read and let me know what you think in the comments…or I’ll tell Palpatine that was you that used the Force on him, not Vader, and you said you’d do it anytime you wanted ’cause you’re not afraid of some old, shriveled-up has been! …until next time, TWS out.