by Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue, proceed at your own risk.
Authoritarian rule is often the result of resentment toward the professional political class. All it takes is one “outsider” with enough willpower to assume power, and then the common man is freed from the dubious expertise of career politicians. The problem, of course, is that the elimination of political experts leads to brain drain in all other aspects of government, and eventually the loss of all knowledge and expertise. Star Wars Darth Vader 8 shows the tenuous balance between the experts and the tyrants that force their extinction.
In fact, the Emperor makes this explicit in the first couple pages. We open on a scene we are extremely familiar with: Vader force choking some imperial officer that has failed him.
Artist Giuseppe Camuncoli puts the poor imperial bastard in the foreground, and that third panel shows us the usually-off-camera after-effects of being choked by the force. Palpatine warns Darth Vader that he must not kill everyone in the galaxy — then who would they rule over? With our obvious knowledge of The Empire Strikes Back any reader knows that this is advice Vader is going to choose to ignore as he grows in power. I’ve always asked the question how anything gets done in the Empire when anyone who ascends to a high enough position is murdered by their C.O., and it’s cool to see that Palpatine shared this concern early on. The price of Vader’s compulsion to murder people that fail him is that there are only fools left to serve him.
Of course the other potential loss of expertise in the Imperial Take Over comes in the form of the wisdom and knowledge of the Jedi. Palpatine had to wipe them out in order to seize control, but they were essentially the shepherds of all knowledge in the universe. Unfortunately for her, Jacosta Nu represents the sum totality of the Jedi able to access and utilize said knowledge, and she is triggered to violence at the very idea her life’s work is in danger. The information is all there, but it requires an expert to access it, and she seems like she’s a couple lightsaber swings away from not existing anymore. Writer Charles Soule has tapped into a heartbreakingly prescient fear of mine as we stare into the abyss of an anti-knowledge administration.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?