Darth Vader #1 (Marvel, 2015)
It’s comics time again! Today we’re going to hit the latest part in the timeline I’ve yet covered here on Snark Wars, as we venture into the wild and amazing craziness that is the new-canon Darth Vader series. (Why yes, I do realize that every comic I have covered thus far has been about Obi-Wan, Anakin, or Anakin and Obi-Wan. Are you new here or something? If you’re waiting for an apology you’re going to be waiting a WHILE.)
Set between Episodes 4 and 5, we join our wayward, disappointing son as he badasses his way across the galaxy in search of a good time. Recall that two of Vader’s last and more memorable canon outings prior to this comic series were Episode 4, where he shoots down a bunch of X-wings, kills (er, “kills”) Obi-Wan, and tortures his own 19-year-old daughter, and Rogue One, which — well, let’s just say he’s not phoning in the dramatics there either because to be honest if I start talking about this now we will never, ever get to the actual content of today’s recap. With that, what’s our boy up to now? He taking a mechanical breather from being such a drama queen?
Oh. OK then. Guess the answer there is “no.” I should point out that YET AGAIN, this comic series features capes that are SO preposterously long and somehow nearly ALWAYS catching enormous gusts of wind, that I immediately bonded with it before even reading a single page. Just wait. The cover art alone makes each of these issues well worth the list price.
Things get framed up for us via the comics version of the Famous Opening Crawl with this: Vader’s got his work cut out for him redeeming himself in the eyes of the Emperor! The first Death Star just so happened to have had a vulnerability (WHO KNEW) that was exploited by the Rebellion! It blew up! Without a superweapon, how can he and Palps be supervillains?! SO now he’s off to…I dunno, go look for new ways to strike fear into the Rebellion without the Death Star. You’ll never guess where this will take him!
Recurring Theme: It’s Rough, Coarse and Irritating and It Gets Everywhere
We begin, right out of the GATE, with Anakin Skywalker showing his masked face on fucking Tatooine again. HAHAHAHAHA. Oh BOY. Don’t worry, the reason he comes here in the first place is not at all entertaining and definitely does not involve Darth Sidious being a huge bitch.
Vader is not only on Tattooine — undoubtedly getting sand in his robo-joints and probably having to take quaaludes just to temper his rage enough to get through this assignment — he’s at Jabba’s Palace. You know, because Anakin Skywalker loves the Hutts and has no hangups from when he and his mother were literally enslaved by them.
He makes a WAY less even-keel entrance here than his son will in a handful of years, mowing down the guard at the door and just Imperial-marching his way on in.
Anakin Skywalker, Multilingual Demand-Maker
Vader makes his way over to Jabba’s, er, throne room? I guess? Does it count if he’s so huge that he doesn’t exactly have a throne? Anyways, you guys know the room I mean. The best part about this scene is that the entire segment has Jabba’s dialogue written in English, “translated from Huttese”. So: just know that Darth Vader at least understands Huttese perfectly here, and even though he’s shown as speaking English/Basic/whatever, let’s instead pretend that Hutt jibberish is coming out of James Earl Jones’ deep voice as filtered through the Vader mask and try not to expire from laughter.
Jabba is SUPER bored with Darth Vader even though he MURDERED HIS WAY IN HERE, which I frankly find delightful:
Vader is like “Enough small talk, asshole. I’m coming back tomorrow on a business trip and YOU WILL HELP ME MEET MY DAMN DELIVERABLES.”
Darth Vader, Not a Jedi (Anymore, Yet)
Jabba is like “LOL, don’t you even bother trying a mind trick on me, stupid Jedi” and OH MY GOD WHAT SHADE TO THROW AT VADER. Either he is totally unaware of the distinction between the two major Force religions, or he just wants to stick it to Vader even more by being like “lol I didn’t even notice which brand of Laser Sword Guy you were and does it even matter” and either way, I’m laughing. He can’t even get respect from Jabba the fucking Hutt. I know Obi-Wan’s life is the ACTUAL worst, but Vader’s life is also the worst (at least he deserves it, sometimes.)
Vader, surely suppressing the most epic rage-stroke of all time, snots back in what appears to be mostly commentary to himself:
I love how much partial-talking-to-himself Vader does. That dude is lonely as hell. (OK, so, that actually makes me sad but I’m going to hide my pain with laughter.) Also you know he was a teeny bit sad about saying that he was the reason the Jedi are all dead and I won’t hear any more about this and also I’m not going to talk about this any further.
Jabba is like “hey guess what? Funny story, everyone in the Galaxy wants you dead and there’s a good going rate for your head on a platter. Also no one knows you’re here right now so who’d even know what happened if you just…disappeared from here?” as his finger hovers over the button for the trap door in the floor.
Recurring Theme: Skywalker vs Hutt
At this, Vader takes a step back off the platform on the floor and Jabba is like OH! So you’re actually NOT that dumb (OK, fine, I mean, Anakin has his moments of brilliance but let’s not go giving the guy that much credit. He is still, frequently, spectacularly dense.) Then Jabba asks Vader if he’s brave, or foolish:
That Name Means Nothing To Me
Well, as you can imagine Anakin is all bristly about being called a Jedi for the second time in about 5 minutes and flips his shit:
He gets all pissy and is like SITH DON’T DO MIND TRICKS WE WOULD NEVER DO SOMETHING AS DISGUSTING AS A MIND TRICK AND I’M NOT JUST SAYING THAT BECAUSE OBI-WAN WAS WAY BETTER AT THEM THAN ME:
You know something, Skywalker? I’m gonna say it: you doth protest too much. And I know I’m not wrong because you’re only a few years away from your Sith Retirement and revealing your still-present gooey marshmallow center to Luke.
Darth Vader, Returns To The Same Well A Lot
So then he predictably Force-chokes Jabba and is like WE SITH PREFER FORCE! and Jabba’s like OK OK I get your point, Jesus Tapdancing Christ! I’ll help you with your upcoming business undertaking. Stop choking me, Random Insane Man.
Vader’s like FANTASTIC, thank you, finally. Here’s what I need…
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Doomed to Eternal Frustration
…buuuuut before we can find out what Vader’s Big Scheme is, we flash back to the previous day on Coruscant, and I don’t know WHY I find this so amusing, but look how bright and cheery it is in here! This looks like JUST the place for Ultimate Evil to run his operations!
Anyways Palps is like “what the fuck did you fuck up NOW, Vader” and oh my GOD, poor Anakin: he literally can not do anything right for anyone. Before it was all “what the fuck did you fuck up NOW, Anakin.” So much has changed, except his new husband is way meaner than his last one and WAY less handsome.
Vader explains that he’d gone to Some Moon to talk with Jabba’s envoy (I haven’t read whatever part of the comic backstory that I’m missing here so bear with me) about securing some resources, but when he got there Those Meddling Kids from the Rebellion had already infiltrated things and blown a bunch of shit up. I love that this era of Star Wars is literally just Vader being antagonized and thwarted by his OWN DAMN CHILDREN. Who are in part being coached by Recluse Yoda from a SWAMP, and FROM THE ACTUAL AFTERLIFE by Obi-Wan. I mean…come on, this is objectively hilarious. Anakin got to do some cool villain stuff sometimes, but still: I love how all of his remaining family and loved ones pretty much banded together to make his life as shitty as possible until he capitulated and chucked Sidious into that abyss.
Recurring Theme: Darth Sidious, Con Man
There’s a whole bunch of blahblahblah where they talk about what went wrong with Vader’s failed mission here, and Sidious really lays on the guilt trip, telling Vader that now they’re WAY behind schedule on Death Star II or whatever the hell they’re talking about, and the Empire’s never been THIS close to failure before:
Please recall how this is the same asshole who spent 12 or so years hammering into Anakin’s thick skull that No One Believed In Anakin Like His Good Pal Uncle Palps, and now Sidious is pretty much like “you are the worst at everything and I can’t even believe I have to put up with you. Oh and by the way I don’t actually know how to save people from death and you’re totally the one who killed your wife and stop talking about Obi-Wan so much and no one likes you why don’t you just go sit in your Lava Castle alone for a while since no one can even stand to be around you and that way maybe you won’t fuck everything up like you always do.” Talk about a bait and switch! I’m not thinking about how both Obi-Wan and Anakin ended up spending like half their lives just sort of lowkey praying for death right now. Moving on!
They do some more blame-gaming about what happened with the Death Star and Sidious accuses Vader of having let the Rebels get away with the plans on purpose, and this whole thing ends with Vader more or less getting a demotion: from now on, he has to take orders from Tagge, who they amusingly overexplain as having left the Death Star before it blew up.
I Am Sending You To The Childhood Trauma System
Sidious then tells him that they don’t have time to open up discussions with a different crime lord, so he wants Vader to go to the Outer Rim to see Jabba in a couple of days and negotiate. Vader is like “I’m not good at haggling, that was always Obi-Wan’s jurisdiction what with his constant flirting with every single living being in creation,” and Sidious is like “TOUGH CRAP, get going.” He then proceeds to be a HUGE ASSHOLE here by bringing up Anakin’s shittastic past and hatred of sand:
Recurring Theme: Darth Sidious and Darth Vader Have The Worst Marriage
Sidious then settles in to his office, where he’s meeting with a stranger. Vader’s like “who’s this guy?” and Sidious is like I DON’T HAVE TO TELL YOU EVERYTHING OH MY GOD THIS MARRIAGE IS SUFFOCATING ME. OK, for real: these two have a terrible relationship and I love that by the midpoint of Return of the Jedi they are both SO CLEARLY planning to overthrow each other and every single conversation they have is like, through gritted teeth and punctuated by forced “I love you”s. They needed marriage counseling, because this is such a toxic dynamic.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Loves Obi-Wan
Sidious pretty much shoos him out now, but first asks Vader if he has anything further for him, and Vader has a weird internal flashback to the events of Episode 4. First, he recalls Obi-Wan’s final smirk-filled fuck-you where he literally BECAME THE FORCE in front of Anakin’s face just to fuck with him.
He recalls that someone evidently asked him “who was that handsome bearded old man who just totally owned you in front of everyone” and he’d answered thusly:
OK. I have so many feelings about this. We all know Vader is pretty much obsessed with Obi-Wan starting with, well, the minute they get introduced, and ending NEVER. I am 1000% sure his Force Ghost has never left the man’s side since the second he crossed over and Obi-Wan is pretending to be annoyed by it but he is loving it and oh my God if I don’t get those two as an old married Force Ghost couple in the Sequel Trilogy I am never going to recover DO YOU HEAR ME LUCASFILM?!
Ahem. So Vader’s obsession with him in the original trilogy timeline is often interpreted as hateful-rage-obsession, when in actuality I think he just…kinda loved the guy. Here’s some more evidence for the pile. Note how he doesn’t say that Obi-Wan was an idiot, or a fool, or a bad person or really anything actually negative about him here: he just says that Obi-Wan was an old man who thought he could help gifted kids (Anakin), but he couldn’t. THIS IS SO SAD YOU GUYS. He is acknowledging right here as DARTH VADER, ON THE DEATH STAR, that all Obi-Wan ever wanted to do was help him. You know. Because that’s what Obi-Wan DOES:
THANKS A LOT, STAR WARS. You never fail to deliver. I’m absolutely sending you a bill for my therapy.
Darth Vader, Geneology Researcher
He then flashes back to a confrontation he’s had recently with Luke, where Luke yelled at him for killing Obi-Wan (aagggghhh), and he saw Luke’s (“Luke’s”) lightsaber. Vader then had a (dim) lightbulb moment: HOLY FUCK! That’s MY lightsaber! And this kid came to the Death Star with Obi-Wan! The best part about this segment is that Vader is like “waaaaait…I know this weapon…this once belonged…to…” while he’s HOLDING IT, and FOR FUCK’S SAKE ANAKIN YOU ONLY CARRIED THE DAMN THING EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE FOR YEARS HOW CAN YOU NOT IMMEDIATELY KNOW IT’S YOUR FUCKING LIGHTSABER.
Yes, believe it or not, ladies and gentlemen, Anakin Skywalker is actually figuring something out possibly for the first time ever. Maybe. He’s not entirely there yet.
Anyways he snaps out of his little “previously, on My Life” segment and is like “OH, NOTHING TO CONCERN YOURSELF WITH MASTER.” Sidious is like “GREAT. GOODBYE, Vader.”
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan’s Apprentice Knows How To Pose
Now we see Vader telling one of his guys to take him to Tatooine ahead of schedule, which is of course how he got to the earlier scene with Jabba in the first place. We then cut to the next day again (OK, I kind of like the flashback stuff they do in these comics but they do it so much that sometimes I have absolutely no idea what’s going on. STOP GIVING ME WHIPLASH, STAR WARS.)
Vader’s taking a meeting with that Darksider Wookie from that last Obi-Wan comic I wrote up, and also Boba Fett (…yay.) Before I cover the actual content of this discussion, I need you to know that THIS IS HOW VADER LOOKS IN THE OPENING SHOT:
OH MY GOD. ANAKIN SKYWALKER AND OBI-WAN KENOBI, YOU GUYS. Vader never forgot him. He never did. PLEASE RECALL THAT THIS WAS OBI-WAN:
I love these two so, so much. I know it was difficult to tell and all, but I just want you all to know (again.)
Darth Vader, Project Manager
OK so anyways, Vader’s got two assignments for these guys: one, he wants Boba to look into this kid that was hanging out with Obi-Wan totally not because he’s jealous that someone else got to do that when Obi-Wan’s ONLY TRUE BFF SHOULD BE HIM:
He wants this kid alive, because he’s got Plans for him. Also, he wants that evil Wookie to look into this guy that Sidious has been seeing on the side because he wants to know what they’re talking about because Anakin Skywalker is a Jedi and we all know from the many episodes of TCW I’ve recapped that those guys are the nosiest fucking gossips in the goddamn universe.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, PLEASE
We close this issue out with Boba being like “no prob, we’ve got you covered,” and Vader’s like “GOOD. Let’s get going, then. I’ve already spent too much time on this sandy hellhole…” and then we cut to THIS SHOT:
I…what? Did this happen? Darth Vader swung by the Tuskens’ place to KILL THEM ALL AGAIN? I mean, this makes total sense because he absolutely WOULD do this, but when is this supposed to be happening? Right now? Did he take Boba and the Wookie with him? Is this him remembering something he did earlier that day? Is this just a happy place Vader goes to in his mind when he needs a little extra rage? Anyways, Anakin Skywalker, get a fucking grip. You have a lot of tasks assigned to you, so you should probably get on those instead of just going on random killing sprees, but whatever.
Will Vader edge closer to the truth about Luke? Will he get to have a few more moments of quiet reflection about how much he loves Obi-Wan? How much of a bitch will Sidious be? You’ll just have to join me next time to find out, friends! See you then!