Written by Greg Pak
Art by Raffaele Ienco
Published by Marvel Comics
In Episode VI, when Luke asked Vader to come with him, and Vader replied, “You don’t know the power of the dark side. I MUST obey my master,” I always wondered why?
After all, it was only in the previous film where Vader told Luke, “you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.”
It’s quite the 180 in terms of motivation. Was Vader scared or just playing the long game? Greg Pak gives us the answer in sensational fashion.
In short, fear.
Darth Vader gets his @#& kicked by the Emperor.
It was bad. It was The Simpsons “He’s already dead” meme bad. Palpatine knew of Vader’s choice to let Luke escape Bespin and his side quest to discover Padmé’s killer. These decisions have led Palpatine to believe his apprentice has gone soft.
Turn Vader’s anger to fear and his fear to pain, which will give him back his edge. The beating was uncharted territory for Vader.
Just when it looked as if Vader had had enough, it got worse and worse.
Even the red Imperial Guards got in on the fun as Palpatine insulted him without end. The creative mojo of Greg Pak and Raffaele Ienco took rare form during the pivotal moment of the beating where Palpatine force choked Vader while making him think of every person he had done the same thing to. Flashes of Padmé, Director Krenic, Admiral Ozzel, and others highlight the page, making a powerful statement that Vader is now as helpless as all those he tortured before him. Another powerful image shows Vader’s robotic legs deflating like sagging balloons, right before they explode. It was another visual masterstroke depicting Vader like never before.
The only thing keeping me from rating this issue an A+ is a flashback image where Luke Skywalker looks like a slender woman modeling on the catwalk instead of writhing in pain from having his hand chopped off. Overall, it’s small enough to forgive but not forget.
Palpatine finally spares Vader of anymore…Nope.
Palpatine is just getting warmed up. The real fun begins as Vader must prove himself under the most hospitable and unfair conditions. If that’s not enough, Palpatine’s insurance policy appears on the final page and has a significant connection to The Rise of Skywalker.
If any Star Wars fans get the opportunity to meet Pak and Ienco, they should shake their hand and say “Thank you” for this book.
It’s not only a story that delivers things we’ve never seen before. It also augments some critical moments in Return of the Jedi Return and provides a worthwhile journey despite knowing the result. Darth Vader obviously survives, but how?