Vader Abandons Emotion in Darth Vader 4

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

We’re told that the strength of the Dark Side comes from tapping into one’s emotions. Basically, the more Anakin hates, the more strength he has. Jedi are trained to stomp out their emotions, which makes their control of the force more measured, but also markedly more dispassionate. That’s what makes Luke such an expectedly effective Force user — while he sorta learns from ancient Jedi masters, he’s too old and emotional to keep his feelings in check. He’s like 80% Light Side, with some Dark Side mixed in, just for extra oomph. But why wouldn’t the reverse be true? Darth Vader frequently draws on his rage, his grief and is isolation to make him powerful beyond measure, but it’s ultimately his dispassionate moves that make him most intimidating. Choking an officer to death to make a point? That shit’s calculated, not emotional. In Darth Vader 4, we see where the Sith Lord learns the power of not giving a fuck.

Vader has been tossed off the mountain and left for dead by Master Infil’a. The Jedi Master recognizes that it’s time for him to come out of hiding and restore the glory of the light side of the force. Writer Charles Soules sets up a this great  example of a character tapping all his resources, both material and personal, in pursuit of an ideological goal. Hell, it’s almost sentimental: he forsakes his oath and even gets far enough in his hopeful thinking to train his friends in the ways of the force. That passion is going to cost him.

Vader shows up and the whole thing goes to hell. He and Infil’a square off atop a dam overlooking Am’balaar City, and the city’s guards naturally take an interest in the space wizards dueling on a massive public works installation. That’s three guards fighting to protect their home and Jedi fighting to protect his way of life, against Darth Vader, who cooly sees all of those passions as liabilities. Artist Giuseppe Camuncoli draws Vader with minimal signs of movement, and Soule scripts no insights into what he’s thinking or feeling.

That “twtch” sound effect isn’t even a full word, let alone a full motion. Vader’s not throwing these guys off the top of the damn because he hates them, but because it provides him with an advantage. So Vader blows the damn. Not to hurt the inhabitants of the town — he knows it will kill thousands of them — but to distract his target long enough to kill him. Sure, it’s scary when Vader’s mad, but it’s downright terrifying when he doesn’t care at all.

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