Comic Book Galaxy: How Marvel’s New Darth Vader #1 Deepens Our Understanding of the Sith looks at the latest Star Wars comics, including the iconic Sith Lord's new ongoing series.

Comic Book Galaxy explores Marvel‘s Star Wars comic book releases and provides a discussion point on the culture and climate of the Star Wars comic book universe.

If you have been reading Star Wars comics in the past month, you’ve experienced some great storytelling. In Poe Dameron #14, General Leia and the guy who can fly anything discuss the future of the Resistance, and in Screaming Citadel #1, the unlikely team of Luke Skywalker and Dr. Aphra encounter a new kind of scum and villainy in the galaxy. The story of their team up continues in Star Wars #31, and Darth Vader makes his return to monthly comics in the pages of an all new, self-titled book, with the energy and power we have come to expect from the Dark Lord of the Sith. There is also much to learn in the new title, which will be explored in Word Balloon. Here is a look at some of the Star Wars comics released over the course of the past month.

The Month That Was

The pilots of Black Squadron, depicted in a hologram, on the cover of a Poe Dameron comic book.

Poe Dameron #14

  • The issue starts with the funeral of L’lulo, the pilot who sacrificed himself in order to save escape pods in issue #13. He was a lifelong family friend to the Damerons, and the Resistance pilot feels his loss.
  • Poe and General Leia have a conversation in which it is revealed that Leia sees something in Poe that he may be unaware of. She challenges Poe to search within himself, as she believes he is more than a great pilot. He is also a natural leader, and encourages him to foster that burgeoning talent.
  • Agent Terex finds himself in the clutches of Captain Phasma. She and the First Order have grown weary of Terex’s renegade mindset, and Phasma dishes out her version of justice. Terex will never be the same.

Luke Skywalker and Doctor Aphra face danger together, on the cover of Screaming Citadel's first issue.

Screaming Citadel #1

  • The latest crossover event in Star Wars comics begins here! The one-shot brings the surprising tandem of Luke Skywalker and rogue archaeologist, Dr. Aphra. Their chemistry is much richer than expected, and provides some great moments of irony and humor.
  • Aphra wants to bring Luke to the Screaming Citadel, where the Queen of Ktath’atn resides. The Queen hosts an annual gathering of some of the most unique denizens of the Star Wars; Aphra hopes the farm boy from Tatooine will impress the Queen enough that she will activate an ancient Jedi artifact for them. Both hope to benefit, but the Queen has some sinister plans of her own.
  • The issue features many elements of gothic literature that add a unique element to Star Wars. Seems appropriate, too, since Triple-Zero and Beetee are involved.

Han, Luke, and Dr. Aphra appear on the cover of an issue of Marvel's Screaming Citadel comic book series.

Star Wars #31

  • The Screaming Citadel arc continues with the Queen testing Luke’s increasing Jedi abilities. She wants to make sure Skywalker is the real deal. Her methods are unconventional, to say the least.
  • It was revealed in Screaming Citadel #1 that the Queen and her cronies suck the life force out of the residents of the town near the citadel. As this issue goes on, her motivation becomes more and more apparent, as well as frightening for Luke and Aphra. Talk about a deal getting worse all the time!
  • Han, Leia, and Sana put together a rescue mission to save the Rebel hero. They believe Aphra kidnapped Luke, but have no idea what they are actually in for. 

Darth Vader brandishes his lightsaber on the cover of his self-titled comic book.

Word Balloon: Highlights from Darth Vader (2017) #1

Darth Vader is the newest monthly Star Wars title, and takes place immediately after Anakin Skywalker is encased in Vader’s iconic black armor in Revenge of the Sith. The first issue, written by Charles Soule and penciled by Giuseppe Camuncoli, provides new information on Vader and Emperor Palpatine’s relationship, shows us his first solo mission in his new costume, and begins to reveal how Darth Vader gets his Sith lightsaber. Here are some highlights!

Darth Vader reacts with rage to the memory of killing his wife, as the Emperor smiles.

Rebirth and trauma

In Revenge of the Sith, audiences witness Darth Sidious telling Darth Vader that he killed Padmé out of rage. However, what we didn’t see is the aftermath of this conversation. The first panel showcases just how powerful Darth Vader is, much to Palpatine’s surprise and chagrin. Palpatine is slammed (via the Force) into a wall, courtesy of Vader’s intense anger. The psychology of their relationship is manifest in Sidious’ response to this shocking turn of events, and gives more context to the master/apprentice dynamic. There’s a significant threat involved that cements their relationship for the next 19 years, too.

Mas Amedda’s influence

In Chuck Wendig’s novel, Empire’s End, it is reinforced that Mas Amedda is nothing more than a figurehead for the Empire. In Darth Vader #1, however, we see the public personae he has crafted for himself, and the charisma he exudes. His venom is palpable, and he also continues Palpatine’s mission to eradicate the existence of the Jedi from the general public. This sequence also shows us what happened to many of the lightsabers of the Jedi. The symbolism of this destruction is shocking, permanent, and powerful.

Darth Vader's power sends Emperor Palpatine flying into a wall.

The origin of the red lightsaber blade

A standout moment of Darth Vader #1 is undoubtedly the moment when Darth Sidious tells his new apprentice why Sith blades are red. Sidious reveals that Vader must “… pour your [Darth Vader’s] pain into the [kyber] crystal and when, at last, the agony becomes more than it can stand … a beautiful crimson. The color of your rage.” This is another shocking example of how the Sith subvert the nature of the Force in all living things, and warp what was once good into something twisted and unnatural. In essence, Vader’s lightsaber blade could be considered as tragic as the former Jedi Knight himself.

How Darth Vader will become in possession of his Sith hilt has yet to be revealed, but this moment will unquestionably add to the legacy of the fallen Jedi.

What did you think of Darth Vader #1? Let us know in the comments below!

Dan Zehr is a high school English teacher with an MS in Teaching and Learning, and is the Host and Co-creator of Coffee With Kenobi, a Star Wars podcast that analyzes the saga through critical thinking, analysis, interviews, and discussion. He is also the rebel teacher in the Target Rogue One commercial, and is an avid comic book consumer and longtime reader of the medium.

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