by Michael DeLaney
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
When Star Wars comics relaunched under Marvel in 2015, Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca’s Darth Vader was far and away the best title. Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli have continued that tradition with their latest incarnation of the book. Darth Vader 13 is the latest example of how the comics can flesh out characters and concepts in a way that the movies never really did.
The opening of Soule’s Darth Vader 1 was a recontextualization of Vader’s embarrassing “NOOOOO!” from Revenge of the Sith. Darth Vader 13 begins with a similar bit of revisionist history.
Unlike the “NOOOO!” retcon, the very meme-able “high ground scene” is only changed in Vader’s mind while his bald head is meditating in his egg chamber. As Soule mentions a few times in the script, it’s only been a year or so since so the events of Revenge of the Sith. Even if he’s wearing his robo-samurai get-up, the reimagining of his Mustafar showdown with Obi-Wan illustrates that this fantasy is all Anakin. It’s not hard to imagine Hayden Christensen stewing inside that helmet, thinking of all of the other ways that fight could have ended.
In addition to bridging the gap between Anakin and Vader, Darth Vader 13 makes the Empire seem actually competent for a change. The Emperor has tasked Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin with putting the pressure on Admiral Ackbar’s homeworld of Mon Cala.
While Vader tracks down a potential Jedi, Tarkin launches several non-aggressive strategies to get the Mon Calamarians under the Empire’s thumb. One such way to create turmoil on Mon Cala includes a targeted propaganda campaign, which stinks of the Russian’s (successful) attempts to influence the 2016 election with fake news. It’s nice to see the Empire as a formidable force again and not just a bunch of blockhead soldiers with terrible aim.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?