Written by robotical712
The 25th and final issue of the Vader 2017 series dropped yesterday and it capped off a series featuring Vader’s early rise in dramatic fashion. Yet the finale is really just a new chapter that ends in the events of the 2015 comic run. SPOILERS
Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith started during RotS and showed how Vader attained his position in the Empire and his attempts to eradicate the remaining Jedi. In the final arc, Vader oversaw the construction of his castle on Mustafar with the help of Lord Momin. After overcoming Momin’s betrayal, the penultimate comic ended with Vader about to enter the opened portal to a foreboding hellscape where Momin promised his greatest desire lay.
Summary – SPOILERS
After entering the portal, Vader’s spirit appears to leave his physical body, the door closing behind him. He walks towards an apparent replica of his newly built castle on Mustafar while visions of his life play out chronologically. Each vision either shows an event from his past or suggests that the dark side’s influence has always been present. First, a pregnant Shmi appears with the specter of Palpatine looming over her belly in an allusion to Palpatine’s suggestion that Plagueis was able to influence the Force to create life.
Next is a vision or memory of young Anakin waking from a dream prophesying his future as Vader. At this point, Vader’s spirit becomes that of young Anakin which ages to his present body against a series of images depicting moments from his past, culminating in a premonition of his duel with Ahsoka on Malachor. As this vision passes, he reaches his castle which becomes the visage of the Jedi Temple where a host of Jedi, dead and living, seek to block his way. Vader’s spirit fights and kills them all with an echo of Kylo Ren’s admonition to Rey, “Let the past die, kill it if you have to”.
As he enters the temple, apparitions of Palpatine and Obi-Wan Kenobi stand before him. The two visages fight and Palpatine vanquishes Kenobi before being destroyed by Vader’s spirit. Walking onto a balcony, Vader apparently finds what he had been searching for – Padme. Now appearing as Anakin, Vader pleads with Padme to come with him. Padme refuses, telling him she does not know him because Anakin is dead, and then thows herself off the balcony. Vader attempts to stop her, but as she falls her body is twisted by the dark side and a bolt of red lightning finally turns it to ash.
After venting his grief and rage, Vader leaves his castle and heads towards the portal. As he reaches it, a figure bathed in blinding blue light appears. As the figure ignites his lightsaber, Vader is overwhelmed by a blue light (the discerning reader will be able to identify the figure as Luke, despite his face not being shown). Back on Mustafar, Vader finds himself in his broken body and suit once again. When contacted, Palpatine asks if Vader had found the answer he had been looking for. Vader, who had only said ‘no’ for the entire series, terminates the call before answering ‘yes’.
An End and A Beginning
While much will be made of various images and statements during Vader’s spirit walk, it’s important to keep in mind that the comic is first and foremost about Vader. Second, this is a vision provided by the dark side and not everything shown is necessarily literal. Thus, our focus should be on what the comic means for the character of Vader.
As I laid out in several October tweets, this comic along with the 2015 series are explorations of who Vader is and what drives him. In the previous series, the Emperor expressed frustration that Vader had not been attempting to gain power like a Sith should. It was also in that series that Vader learned Luke Skywalker was his son. Driven by a desire to have his son join him, Vader secretly diverted funds from Imperial coffers, killed the man who investigated, and enlisted the rogue archaeologist Aphra in the creation of his own private army. When the Emperor learned of his apprentice’s scheming in the final issue, he was thrilled as Vader was finally pursuing his own ambitions as the Sith taught.
The 2017 finale brings the story full circle. In the first arc we see Vader obtain the crystal for his lightsaber. Once obtaining it, he takes it to a cave on Mustafar where he uses the dark side nexus to corrupt it. Years later we learn he had glimpsed something of great potential there and asked Palpatine to grant him that world. Palpatine agrees and even gifts him the helmet containing the spirit of an ancient Sith Lord and Padme’s ship (which suggests he was nudging Vader the whole time). There, Momin, the Sith tied to the helmet, tells Vader what he desires is possible and designs a structure to focus the dark side nexus and fashion a portal. Unfortunately, Vader fails to achieve his goal and resigns himself to his fate.
In both instances Vader pursued his own ambitions independent of the will of the Emperor. Yet both share one engine – Anakin’s love. The Emperor sought to turn the Chosen One into the ultimate Sith and achieve power over everything, yet could never stoke a craving for power in Vader. The experience on Mustafar had smothered Vader’s only real ambition, leaving only his self-loathing to sustain him. His powers, while still great, stagnate well short of his potential, much to Palpatine’s disappointment.
Anakin’s love lays dormant for many years until something shocking happened – Vader learned the child Anakin and Padme had conceived survived. With this revelation Anakin’s love and Vader’s ambition were rekindled. However, the vision on Mustafar foreshadowed something else – Luke would help Anakin’s love overcome and destroy Vader.
Unresolved Plot Threads
Vader 2017 lays the foundation for and furthers many story threads. Here are some of the unresolved threads:
- The Inquisitors play a significant role in this story and we see Vader gain control of them.
- Quinlan Vos is revealed to be unaccounted for after Order 66.
- Additional Jedi are named as unaccounted for on two lists in the series.
- The Empire is shown inventorying and studying a huge number of Force related artifacts.
- Vader is the target of a conspiracy to assassinate him, but the conspirators are not identified or apprehended in the comic.
- The Emperor’s interest in Force sensitive children established in prior media plays a significant role.
- Former Jedi Master Eeth Koth’s daughter is one of the abducted children.
- Before Vader kills him, former Jedi padawan Farren Barr sends a Force sensitive woman named Verla to find Quinlan Vos.
- Sixth Brother cuts off Ninth Sister’s leg to distract several subverted clones as he escapes. Ninth Sister can be heard yelling at him as he leaves and her fate is unresolved.
- Several unnamed Inquisitors are introduced and play a brief role in the final arc.
- Momin is apparently destroyed, but his helmet still retains the ability to corrupt living beings many years later as show in the Lando mini.
- Matt Martin revealed the ancient Sith Castle first mentioned in the Rogue One Visual Guide can be seen below Vader’s Castle in a panel in the finale.