The Impact of One Charismatic Figure in Darth Vader 16

by Patrick Ehlers

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

It’s sort of astonishing the impact a single person can have on the course of history. The whole of Star Wars is based on this — the galaxy is shaped by one dude’s unquenchable rage. But that’s clearly the negative side of the equation, right? In the movies, anger-monsters like Darth Vader and Kylo Ren are bested by charismatic onscreen personalities. Han Solo is charming because Harison Ford is. Leia is a compelling figure because Carrie Fisher is. In Darth Vader 16, writer Charles Soule and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli show where that power of personality can come from.

The first personality under the microscope is Master Barr. Ferren Barr is a Jedi Master in hiding, and to this point in the series, that’s been enough to establish him as a sort of living MacGuffin. This issue establishes what is so special about Barr – is ability to inspire people. Soule and Camuncoli accomplish this by flashing back to the pivotal moments in his acolytes’ live when he told them to follow him.

And maybe we should be weary of that gesture Barr is making with his hand. He does it two other times in this issue: as part of another “follow me” moment, and at the very end as he force-hacks into the clones’ heads to get them to re-execute Order 66.

So, is Barr carving his place in history honestly or trying to artificially shape it with the force? One of these flashbacks provides some interesting commentary on this. One of Barr’s disciples, Daren, only joins the Jedi’s group because a Jedi saved her once. That Jedi? Anakin Skywalker.

There’s no ambiguity there, no opportunity for the reader to ask if Anakin comes by this trust honestly. Barr tells people to follow him, but Anakin doesn’t need to issue that command. Hell, the whole concept of commands seem foreign to him, as demonstrated in this issue when Tarkin has to ask Vader for “a personal favor.” Barr has to assemble his team, but Anakin just does what he does and a team assembles around him.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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