Darth Vader #4 (Marvel, 2017)
It’s time once again for some more of Darth Vader’s First But Not Last Shitty Week on the Job, also known as 2017’s Marvel Darth Vader series. You may remember that our last installment of this comic series found our misguided idiot friend facing off against an extremely buff Jedi Santa Claus (real name Kirak Infil’a), a dude who had survived Order 66 because he was in Jedi Time-Out at the time, working out and getting ripped and floating shit around in the air while meditating (which is, at least until the Clone Wars, pretty much all the Jedi did even when NOT on some sort of Isolation Quest, but whatever). He now lives on some mid-rim moon on a mountain which contains a gigantic ridiculous obstacle course, which he made Vader go through in order to have the honor of fighting him. And fight him he did! In fact, Anakin got his ass kicked pretty majorly, and he ended the previous issue falling into a giant chasm, possibly because it’s a Monday and someone in Star Wars was required to do it.
Why does Anakin even care about hunting this particular dude down, you ask? He doesn’t! Nope, he’s basically just here because Vader needs to defeat a Jedi so that he can get a kyber crystal from their lightsaber, and then be able to build himself a shiny new Sith blade. I would like to reiterate that, to my great and endless amusement, Sidious apparently neglected to tell Anakin about this little necessity until AFTER thousands upon thousands of Jedi had been murdered. Like, he could have mentioned this EASILY when he was barking out orders to Anakin after they threw Mace Windu out the window, because, y’know, ANAKIN’S ASSIGNMENT WAS LITERALLY TO GO TO THE JEDI TEMPLE TO MURDER EVERYONE THERE, so it’s not like picking up an extra crystal would have required him to go out of his way, but nah. (This is 1000% something Sheev would have done, because he is an absolute ghoul and he seems to just really love making Anakin’s life as frustrating as possible.)
All right, so, obviously Vader hasn’t actually fallen to his death or anything, since he still has a whole lot of bullshit to inflict on the galaxy, so let’s find out how that dummy gets himself out of this one.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Having a Hard Time
We open at the bottom of the pit Vader fell into, and I know that the guy just fell like a billion feet and got roughed up pretty good before that happened, but just…he somehow manages to make this look even more dramatic than it is. He is really gifted.
He lays there all woe is me, and while he’s doing so Infil’a’s droid, which had also fallen down into the abyss, basically uses his dying words to trash-talk at Vader about how the dark side’s gonna lose and Vader is a loser, and I’m so here for this because it is true.
Vader, of course, is not amused because he has a very very very low tolerance for anyone suggesting that he might have made bad choices (because he absolutely knows it is true), and he uses the Force to crush the droid to pieces.
Recurring Theme: Forecast Calls For Wind
Infil’a, having emerged the victor in the battle with Vader, is standing in a stiff breeze, and appears to have stopped by the nearest JediMart or whatever to pick up an unreasonably giant cloak. He does this because Star Wars is a franchise custom-built for people like me who enjoy seeing the same 5 things in slightly different configurations over and over and over again because our brains are defective.
He remarks to himself that he’s now officially back in the world, having completed his Jedi Probation or whatever the deal was with the whole Barash Vow thing.
Infil’a is in what the comic tells us is Am’balaar City, and that’s…one hell of a hydroelectric plant:
Recurring Theme: What The Hell Did You Do To My Ship
Infil’a heads into a garage of sorts, where he meets up with some locals who we soon learn have been storing his Jedi starfighter for him while he went off to feel ways about the Force and work on posing and catch up on his soaps. It’s been years, and now he’s back to pick up his sweet ride. He tells Mareena, a woman working in the garage, that he does hope she hasn’t done anything with it!
She assures him that no, it’s still here, but it might need a little work to be roadworthy again. She asks if this is an urgent situation, and Infil’a explains the Tragic Backstory and gets some additionally-tragic details:
ME NEITHER, KID. Congratulations: you’re one of the smartest people in the galaxy. Also, the way this is phrased (“I never believed it!”) makes it sound like the Jedi Order fell 50 years ago or something, when it’s been like 10 days or whatever (I have no idea; I sure hope no one’s coming to Snark Wars for Actual Star Wars Information. Let’s just say it’s been between 5 hours and one fiscal quarter or something.)
ANYWAYS. Infil’a explains that he’s on a mission: he’s defeated the Sith who killed his Jedi family (*sobs* GOD IT’S SO MUCH WORSE THAN THAT), and now he’s off to kill this Sith’s Master and save the galaxy. I love that this guy didn’t seem to ever believe for even one second that Anakin could have been the Head Sith, probably because even the Dark Side would never be dumb enough to put Anakin in charge of anything. (Hell, I’m pretty sure even Anakin doesn’t wanna be in charge of anything. Like, I’m guessing at least part of the reason Sheev is still in charge is because if Vader kills him, then he’s gonna have to go to meetings and sign paperwork and it’s gonna be a whole big thing, and all that would seriously cut into Vader’s Crying About Padme Time, leaving precious little room in his schedule for his equally- critical Crying About Obi-Wan Time.)
The people helping him here ask with concern — wait, uh, so that Sith you just fought…he’s not coming back, is he? Are they in danger? Infil’a assures them that no: that guy is dead. Actually, he literally says “that poor, deluded creature is dead”. People, this guy interacted with Anakin Skywalker for 14 minutes and has accurately ascertained that he is a poor, deluded creature. YES HE IS. I’ve never known a character who is in greater need of both a hug and a swift kick in the balls that he may or may not still have than Anakin Skywalker. The Jedi are so insightful sometimes, I tell ya.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Actually Really Good at Stuff Sometimes
…ah, but of course, Infil’a was wrong about one important thing about Vader: he’s not, in fact, dead! Staying alive when by all measures he should be dead is practically Anakin’s main superpower, along with shirtless nightmares and complaining. And because this is Anakin Skywalker we’re talking about, he’s already hard at work giving himself a tune-up:
…it seems like a smooth, painless process, too!
Yikes. Anyways, with his leg bolted back on, Vader and his tattered-yet-still-extra cape head out in a subtle, understated fashion, carrying what I think is a weapon he stole before, but I dunno. It’s either that or a cordless leaf-blower:
Recurring Theme: Teaching That’s Never Gonna Happen
As his ship gets prepared, Infil’a is showing off his Force skills, levitating chunks of machinery around, garnering some impressed reactions:
He remarks that oh hey, once this whole Sith thing blows over he can maybe come back to teach her about the Force!
Right; that ALWAYS pans out. I would like to remind everyone that the majority of Jedi we have actually seen teach anyone in Star Wars are people who have often just finished explicitly telling their student that they won’t teach them. (Except Obi-Wan, I guess. And even then, it’s less because he wants to teach anybody and more because he has to because the guy who would have been on the hook to do it died or is as good as dead.)
Yes, he explains: after all, he’ll need to rebuild the Jedi Order, what with them all being dead and all. Might as well set up shop here! But before he can get too carried away with his plans for the hopeful future, he’s stopped in his tracks by the Force Presence of a Certain Someone. Incredulous, he runs outside — it can’t be! Nooo!
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Not Feeling Super Balanced
…but of course, it can! Yes, perched up on a ledge like a fucking Crow of Death, cape a-flyin’, there’s Vader again:
And just in case any of you were wondering, yeah he’s totally doing fine obviously look how settled and normal he looks:
…OK, so now I actually do remember that he steals that weapon off the droid in the last issue. Sorry about my lackluster recall there. This is what happens when you read a comic series with giant monthslong gaps in between issues.
The crowd from the garage assembles outside all holy shit what the hell is that, and I have to say that even though it makes me very sad, I love that Vader is constantly being talked about like he’s an approaching tsunami or a fiery blimp explosion or something. No one is ever like “who was that guy?”, it’s always “WHAT IN THE HOLY MOTHER OF FORCE WAS THAT THING.”
Infil’a urges everyone back inside, and asks Mareena to get back to work on his ship while he takes care of something. What’s he going to do?
Recurring Theme: Two Sides of an Outrageous Coin
He goes flying at Vader, and like…I know the Jedi are not like the Sith, but also we have to at least acknowledge that SOME of Vader’s panache here is not WHOLLY due to the Dark Side, OK?
Some local law enforcement show up, hilariously telling these two to cease and desist because they’re fighting on top of “critical infrastructure”, like, DO THEY NOT SEE THE LASER SWORD AND THE FACT THAT VADER LOOKS LIKE VADER?! This is not just two dudes having a drunken fight in the parking lot after a football game.
As expected, Vader is like PFFT, and flings these interlopers over the side:
Recurring Theme: We Are Officially Out of New Dialogue
Infil’a is horrified as he tries to hold these guys up. He declares to Vader: you’re a monster! Vader, sensing an opportunity to make Kylo Ren look like even more of a TJ Maxx Clearance Rack Anakin (I’m KIDDING, I’m kidding, I promise, please hold your hate mail, I am a TELLER OF JOKES), reaches into the future to preemptively steal some lines from him while I laugh:
Infil’a then notices that Vader is not only about to kill these poor saps, and Infil’a himself, but he’s also on track to preeeeetty much destroy the entire city and flood it with the Powah of His Rage. Infil’a pleads with him: don’t do this! This is about the Jedi and the Sith, these are innocent people! It’s not about them! Vader spits back that he’s a fool, as he yoinks away Infil’a’s lightsaber:
He then suspends Infil’a above the impending disaster zone while Force-choking him, before ultimately throwing him down into the watery ruins of the city:
…well then. Go big or go home once again, huh Anakin? Wasn’t enough to just take down this well-intentioned old Jedi. Had to make sure as many bystanders had to die with him, right? While I’m at it, Skywalker, this all absolutely seems like something Padme’d be on board with, doesn’t it? She loved genocide and the needless slaughter of innocents! GOOD JOB, ANAKIN. ANOTHER HOME RUN.
Also, was this place in Imperial territory? God, I hope so. I hope Vader came home and was like “well, I got a crystal, Master, but also we now need 450 million credits to rebuild a city I destroyed, basically entirely to be a spiteful dramatic asshole.”
And with that: Jedi Master Kris Kringle, we hardly knew ye. You gave it a solid effort, my friend. I salute you. That’s all for this issue! Now that he’s got his crystal, what wacky adventures are in store next for our ol’ buddy Darth Vader? A trip to the capery to replace his ruined ensemble? Full-body buffing like the tin man in Wizard of Oz? Crying about Padme and Obi-Wan? (Well, OK. Whether it’s in the next issue or not, that one’s a given.)