Darth Vader #3 (Marvel, 2017)
Oh, it’s been forever since I recapped a Star Wars comic, so I’m going to rectify that today with a return visit to the 2017 Darth “I Have Never Been Chill, Not Once, Not Ever In My Life” Vader series.
Let’s start by getting everyone back on the same page here: earlier in this comic series, Anakin Skywalker — recent graduate of Terrible Choices University, his Vader suit probably still smelling like a new car — had been sent off by Darth Sidious to go get himself a kyber crystal for his new lightsaber, in part because he needs a scary red Sith one, and in part because in case you all forgot, his last lightsaber was swiped off of him after Obi-Wan soundly trounced his traitorous little ass. The story with Sith Sabers here in the new EU is that the Sith get their kyber crystals by swiping them off the Jedi, and then turn them red by making them “bleed” and filling them up with all their rage and angst and shitty poetry. This posed a challenge for Anakin, though, because the Jedi are KINDA SCARCE at this point in the universe, GEE I WONDER WHY, and so he’s had to get creative to track one down for this purpose.
Unfortunately for Anakin, the Jedi he’s about to encounter is not the only Jedi we know Anakin actually wants to see (that guy is currently over on Tatooine, probably drunk off his ass and sobbing into his concrete slab “mattress” at the moment.) No, Anakin’s tracked down a Jedi who long ago took the “Barash Vow”, a vow which apparently means that you’re still a Jedi and you still get their quarterly newsletters and a discount on logo merchandise at the company store, but you spend your time meditating elsewhere and you aren’t supposed to like, directly engage with the Order. And this particular dude has apparently devoted himself to training to fight during his exile. I…what possible purpose could this serve? If he isn’t allowed to actually fight anyone and he’s not even allowed to pitch in to help the Order while every other Jedi was being murdered, what is even the point? (Nevermind; as always, it doesn’t matter. And also they kind of address that later.)
OK, I think we’re caught up now. Ready?
Recurring Theme: The Jedi Order, Totally Humble Understated Space Monks
Over in the Mid-Rim, on the “River Moon of Al’Doleem”, we find Kirak Infil’a, deep in meditation:
…can they not control the junk that flies around them when they’re blissed out on the Force? Or do they make sure to surround themselves with shit to levitate for drama? (I think we ALL know the answer to this one.)
He gets up and does some combat training with a droid, and then stops: something’s coming. Something…dark. And whiny. And tired. And lonely. And cold. And probably hungry. And so Infil’a better hunker down.
Vader makes his approach and learns that some things have been chucked at his ship — but what are they? Missiles? Grenades? No, it’s…art!
Man, no one tell Thrawn. He’d never abide this flagrant Art Abuse.
So Anakin’s ship kinda crashes and his droid is like “just give it a couple days and we’ll be back in business and you can go smite your enemy or whatever”, and Anakin’s not having it: no, his foe awaits him, and he doesn’t want to be late. He takes off alone through a giant cavern, and suddenly a huge wall comes slamming down behind him.
Recurring Theme: The Jedi Order, Not Phoning It In
Infil’a, outrageously buff, stands on a nearby cliff and yells down to Vader:
So that’s what that smell was! Also, I just really appreciate that this guy has cut himself off from the world, but nevertheless he’s SO going to pose when the opportunity arises. He’s probably having the time of his life.
Vader, having his usual level of chill, instantly starts Force-choking the guy, but is rebuffed:
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Credit-Taker
Infil’a declares: nice try, pal, but you’re not going to defeat me that easily! Also BTW: I happened to notice through the Force that like, the entire Jedi Order was brutally murdered the other day! You wouldn’t happen to be the guy who did it, would you?
Anakin owns up to it, and even though I am greatly pained by this, I’m also kiiiiiinda laughing because YES: Anakin was a HUGE part of what happened there, and I’m sure his answer here is partly due to his own extreme shame/angst, but also? I feel like taking credit for murdering ALL the Jedi is sorta overselling it here, Skywalker. For one thing, the Empire didn’t even manage to kill them all to begin with, and for another thing, YOU didn’t personally kill all the ones that did die. And also, I would like to point out that the last time you tried to kill a Jedi, he handed you your own ass and your evil dad had to come rescue you. (And while I’m at it, Vader, I’d keep an eye on this guy because he’s definitely got the high ground here.)
ANYWAYS. Jedi Master Kris Kringle is like “so, you killed all of them, and now you’re here to kill me, is that it?” Vader’s like “…well, yes, I figured that was obvious” and Infil’a is like EXCELLENT: I’ve been hanging out here, doing my penance all this time, awaiting the moment that the Force would show me my true path as a Jedi — and now, here you are, having killed my whole family, and now my penance is over and it’s time for me to KICK YOUR ASS.
…Nice! Make him work for it, dude. Anakin does not deserve an easy go of things.
Recurring Theme: Ridiculous Sacred Ritual
Still standing high above Vader, Infil’a tells him that this mountain is called Passvaal, and it was designed to be a test for the Jedi who came here — the higher you go, the more demanding the challenges become. He issues Vader this assignment: reach the summit, and he’ll be waiting for him up there.
LOL. God, just think about the month Anakin Skywalker has had, you guys. It’s entirely possible that a handful of weeks ago he was over on Mandalore, having a heart-to-heart with Ahsoka about taking down Undead Maul, then the next thing he knew he was cutting off Dooku’s head and crash-landing half a ship onto Coruscant, then he finds out his wife’s pregnant, Palpatine took him to the opera and Obi-Wan left for a half-day’s worth of work and now he’s here, wearing the damn Vader Suit and having to scale some sort of Jedi Bullshit Riddle Mountain.
Infil’a addresses him as “beast”, then daintily asks his droid to “open the sluice gate”, and Vader finds himself getting dunked:
Anakin Skywalker, More Water-Resistant Than I’d Have Guessed
Oh no! Vader’s sure to drown! That suit can’t be very easy to swim in! Not to worry, though: Anakin might be a terrible person, but the Force is still taking his calls, AND HOW:
LOL. I can’t even add to this. He’s glorious. And exhausting.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Bad With Animals
So he survives his first brush with death, only to be attacked by giant birds mere moments later:
I love that this isn’t the first time animals have seemed put off by Anakin, and meanwhile Obi-Wan is like goddamn Snow White with birds perched on his shoulders and banthas singing along with him and space butterflies probably combing his beard for him and helping him put on his cloak in the morning. His eopie probably talks to him as he rides to the market to sing along with the locals about Weird Old Hermit Ben Kenobi.
Infil’a’s droid, Arex, watches Vader’s struggle via an iPad and asks Infil’a if he wants him to blow up the bridge Vader is standing on. Is…is that like, built into this mountain? Is this part of the challenge series?
Recurring Theme: Oh Why Star Wars
Infil’a doesn’t answer, too preoccupied with trying to figure out what Anakin’s deal is (JOIN THE CLUB, my friend.) He asks Arex — could he be a Sith? A monster of some sort? (*sobs*) It’s like…all that horrible pain he sensed when the Jedi were snuffed out…why, it’s almost like this creature carries it with him!
I’m fine, and so is Anakin. Trust us.
Arex says he can’t say for sure what the hell Anakin is (LOL) — he doesn’t have a red blade, which the Sith are known to have…but some sort of Darksider seems like a solid bet. What does he want to do? Should they let him pass along the bridge before he wipes out their avian friends?
Infil’a strikes yet another classic Jedi pose and tells the giant hellbirds to let Vader go:
…which Vader then does in his usual low-key fashion:
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker vs The Forces of Good
Infil’a tells Arex to cancel all the other obstacles on this stupid Mystery Mountain. Arex protests — why, without any more impediments, that..thing will be here in just a few moments! Infil’a agrees — but that’s what he wants.
Vader then comes trudging up the stairs, and Infil’a hilariously mocks him:
He instantly throws Infil’a backwards, and Arex, having served the Order for many years, isn’t about to take this sitting down and tries to fight back:
Vader tears the droid apart, then sets about dismantling Infil’a, who has sussed out something else about Vader’s journey here: he’s not just here to kill him, he wants something…
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Perpetual Sidekick
Infil’a starts wailing on Vader, and, to my great delight, taunting him: it seems impossible to him that Vader could have killed all the Jedi; he’s too weak! Ahhh, but then, that must mean that Vader isn’t the head honcho after all — of course! He’s got a Master. And with that, Infil’a hacks off one of Vader’s robo-legs below the knee, bringing him to the ground:
With that, Infil’a instructs him to chew on THAT for a while…all the way down into a chasm, which naturally they are fighting right next to because of course they are.
He sends Anakin flying down into the abyss, and just like that, this issue’s over! Sheesh, Anakin sure is having a rough start to this whole Sith thing — on top of not getting any bereavement leave when his wife died, now Sidious is probably going to dock his pay given how many repairs the Vader Suit already needs. We’ll have to wait and see how Anakin’s gonna get himself out of this one — see you next time, dear readers!