Spoilers for Marvel Comics Darth Vader series ahead…
To me, the worth of any extended canon of any Star Wars material beyond the films, exists in its ability to enhance the emotional quotient of cinematic moments.
For example, in Star Wars Rebels, the battle between Ahsoka and Vader on Malachor, while memorable on its own, increased the pathos of Vader’s confrontation with Obi-Wan Kenobi on the Death Star; each scenario features a master and apprentice shaping the future with each sedulous slice of a lightsaber.
For my money, the current Darth Vader comic, and in particular Darth Vader No. 13 “Burning Seas: Part I,” delivers a YT freighter’s haul of feeling.
Return to Mustafar
As a Star Wars fan, you’ve already worked through Anakin Skywalker’s first battle with Kenobi in your head, silently repeating the words “high ground” until the clunky nature of the comment slides away to reveal Obi-Wan’s last attempt to teach his wayward student in Revenge of the Sith.
Darth Vader No. 13 features that moment, but solely as a Dark Side fantasy.
Meditating once again (and gorgeously framed on the cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Elia Bonetti), Vader imagines a scenario where he, as the Dark Lord of the Sith—armored and in full use of his sinister Force faculties—steps beyond his defensively-minded Jedi training and uses the low ground and the Dark Side to their most vengeful purposes.
In this nightmare, the older Jedi is left smoldering, lamenting, “You were my brother, Anakin…”
A new job
Because of the power of Vader’s opening delusion (and its obvious familiarity) readers might miss the subtlety and importance of the remainder of the book.
Here Charles Soule writes a Vader released of the trappings of military leadership, unworried about conventional diplomacy, and becoming the Emperor’s long shadow.
Here we see Lord Vader darkening whatever space necessary to fulfill Darth Sidious’ plan for the galaxy, the same dark force we were introduced to in A New Hope.
This tale set three years after rise of the Empire, Darth Sidious tells Vader, “The Imperial Senate remains–an illusion of many voices coming together to govern.
“In truth, there is only one voice,” he adds, “mine.”
There is another…
“Burning Seas: Part I” is a tale of political intrigue, assassination, and stage setting.
Along the way, Vader encounters some familiar faces on Mon Cala (from Clone Wars, Rogue One and Return of the Jedi) while another distinctive profile governs Palpatine’s plan from orbit and attempts to erase any new hope from the Galaxy.
Oh, and there’s a surprise–and heretofore secret–cameo at the end; a be-robed (familiar?) figure who might just know a little bit about the Emperor’s Iron Fist.
As Palpatine tells his apprentice:
“…something about the negotiating tactics of the Mon Calamari King is using with the Imperial ambassador; they feel familiar. As if he is working with an advisor.
With the possibility of a Jedi influence at play, Vader and his inquisitors are dispatched to the planet.
The Bottom Line
It’s a good book. Not quite as captivating as Darth Vader No. 12, but delivered as the rising/expository chapters of storytelling, this edition has a different job. However, as it stands, “Burning Seas: Part I” left me wanting more and very much looking forward to April 11.
- Soule has Vader down (pardon the intentional pun). I’ve said it before, but the author continues to provide insight into the fallen Jedi.
- The art of Camuncoli (pencils), Daniele Orlandini (inks), and David Curiel (colors) maintained its consistency and vibrancy.
- The connective tissue between the comic, literary canon, television series, and films. I feel as if Marvel (and the Story Group?) are listening to the fans, and are endeavoring to create cohesion.
- The connective tissue between the comic, literary canon, television series, and films: too much of a good thing can give you a stomachache. The mention of Director Krennic feels like that.
- No matter the Star Wars author, too often the Emperor feels as if he is simply “mustache twirling.” I’d love to see more insight into his bland–albeit devious–intentions.
- Speaking of exposition, who the heck is Ambassador Telvar?
My rating for Darth Vader No. 13: