Darth Vader (Marvel, 2020), Issue #1
It’s been ages since I recapped a comic, so what the hell? Let’s drop in with the ongoing Darth Vader: Anakin Skywalker’s Continuing Adventures With Anger and Confusion series. Today’s issue is loaded with flashbacks, Shocking Revelations, and needlessly excessive property damage. Sounds like a solid Star Wars outing to me!
This particular series takes place immediately after The Empire Strikes Back, and honestly while you will never ever hear me complain about getting additional Anakin Content on which to snark, we are now at a point where we are gonna have every single second of this poor pathetic dude’s life documented in some form of media or another soon at the rate they’re cranking this stuff out. Eventually we’re going to be getting novels describing a time where Vader goes on a boring work retreat while quietly seething about how much he hates everyone there, or some week in the Good Old Days when he and Obi-Wan both got the flu and had to stay home and watch TV and annoy each other and literally nothing of interest happened to them (in fairness, I would absolutely read both of these, so maybe Star Wars knows what it’s doing.) (PS: I volunteer to write the Obi-Wan and Anakin one. Call me, Lucasfilm!)
So: with Luke having flipped Vader the bird and thrown himself into an abyss rather than join him, how’s our buddy Vades coping? Has he accepted this rejection calmly and with a great amount of zen, as he accepts all things that don’t go his way? Or has he decided to stew in his own angst and blame everything on pretty much anyone else? IT’S ANYONE’S GUESS OF COURSE.
Recurring Theme: Separation of Arm and Owner
We begin with a little replay of the last few moments of Skywalker vs Skywalker: Empire Strikes Back Edition, with Anakin dropping the bad news of Luke’s paternity test results on him and Luke screaming and freaking out and getting his arm lopped off:
This is all punctuated by Vader’s inner thoughts, which are of that creepy Darksider variety where they just sort of bask in how strrrrrrrong their opponent they’re trying to swindle into being evil is. Yes, Luke’s got it all: he’s got power, strength, he’s Vader’s son (as if that’s a plus here, Anakin, nice try), and yet — he thinks, as Luke plummets down — he’s so weak. Bah!
Recurring Theme: Your Dad’s on the Phone, And He’s Pissed
So now that’s all over with and Vader’s watching the Falcon fly away and LOL at the looks Vader gets from his coworkers:
Can you even imagine being these guys? You literally have to work day in and day out with a giant hulking cyborg who has crippling depression and about 10 million weird obsessions and can kill you with his mind, who has never once laughed at anything in over two decades. I don’t care how good this gig pays, I’d be putting in for a transfer. But hey, that’s just me.
At any rate, Anakin’s heading out on a field trip now. And he’s gonna be taking a little droid buddy with him!
Just then, Mas Amedda pops up on a holo-Skype, and he’s like WAIT WHAT YOU LET THE REBELS GET AWAY?? TELL VADER TO GET ON THE HORN RIGHT NOW.
…but no-can-do: that asshole? HAS ALREADY LEFT THE BUILDING:
My favorite part about this is that Admiral Piett has to tell Amedda that Vader’s not available, and Sheev is just like “o rly??” and finds this hilarious. SAME, UNCLE SIDIOUS. I hope it’s because Sheev already knows where Vader’s going.
…this guy, I swear to God. Just…having a ball, always. If he wasn’t a being of inconceivable darkness and a perpetrator of genocide and slavery, I’d absolutely be down for a martini with this guy.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Nerd
On board his shuttle, Vader reaches over to the aforementioned droid and starts tinkering with him, and the droid is like EXCUSE YOU ONLY EXTREMELY SOCIALLY AWKWARD NERDS WHO LOVE ROBOTS SHOULD BE DOING STUFF LIKE THAT, unaware that he is speaking to the Nerd to End All Nerds:
Vader informs the droid that if he ever reveals what he learns on this mission, he will self-destruct. The droid is like “…right-o, then! What’re we doing, chief?”
Vader replies: Skywalker.
Recurring Theme: It’s Rough, Coarse, and Irrritating, And It Gets Everywhere
Zed Six Seven is like “oh yeah, that guy! Blew up the Death Star! Not sure where he’s currently located!”
Vader icily retorts that they’ll cross paths again when the time is right, but for now, Vader’s got a new target: he’s wants to find whoever made Luke weak, and destroy them. The droid is like “hmm, ‘k! Guess a good place to start would be…”
HAHAHAHAHA you guys. YOU GUYS. They’re gonna make Vader go to Tatooine. AGAIN. This is…at least the third time, now, I think? And every time he goes, the writers make him have to deal with something Painful from his past that he hates and I am sorry but it’s SO FUNNY TO ME because of course they’re doing this because EVERYONE IN STAR WARS IS ALWAYS HAVING SUCH A BAD TIME especially if they are Obi-Wan and/or Anakin. Things they have made Vader do on Tatooine so far:
- Stand around in Obi-Wan’s abandoned Hut of Anakin-Caused Sadness;
- Team up with Jabba the Hutt, and incidentally almost assuredly MURDER OBI-WAN’S BANTHA FAMILY WHY;
- Murder a bunch of Tuskens for old times’ sake;
- The flashback-ridden pain in this issue, which I will get to momentarily.
If they haven’t yet forced him to work a shift at Watto’s and then sleep in the abandoned ruins of his childhood home while having repeated flashbacks to how he wistfully yearned to be a Jedi so he could free all the slaves in some issue I didn’t read, trust me: they will. Only a matter of time.
OK, so: yes, we’re going back to that place and all its coarse, rough, irritating sand. Again.
Recurring Theme: Drink Up, Me Hearties, Yo Ho!
As the shuttle approaches Tatooine, some pirates take note and are like HMMMMMM…an Imperial shuttle, all alone…
There are. So many pirates in this galaxy. So, so many. They decide to call in their crew.
On the surface, Vader prances out of his shuttle and proceeds to be his usual completely un-charming asshole self to the local Imperials stationed there. As one guy tries to introduce himself, Vader just breezes right past him while a bunch of deathtroopers stare the dude down.
Zed Six Seven asks the guy where their terminal with local records is. Vader and the droid are led towards what is blatantly an old ATM:
So as we will see in the following panels, this thing evidently contained a CRAPTON of info about the Lars family. There is ZERO chance I buy that Tatooine was keeping immaculate records on random farmers who lived in the middle of nowhere or freed slaves who weren’t like Big Players in the local criminal scene before the Empire showed up, so the fact that they somehow amassed this database in like 3 years is honestly pretty impressive.
Recurring Theme: You Can’t Go Home Again (Because It Blew up)
Having gotten what they needed, Vader and his robot co-detective show up at the Famous Lars Homestead — or at least, what’s left of it:
Ah yes: a real walk down Fond Memory Lane…
I like how they indicate flashbacks for Vader by tinging them red, as though not only can Anakin only see in red tints, Anakin’s BRAIN can’t even remember things in regular colors. That’s…fun.
So, yes: Anakin thinks about his mommy, and then he remembers being an antisocial weirdo while meeting his stepfamily, and then the droid tells him that eventually after Cliegg and Shmi died, Owen and Beru inherited the house and at some point later they adopted a boy named Luke Skywalker. Not much is known about him from the records except that he was a good pilot.
They move into that room where Luke hung out with Artoo and Threepio, also known as that room where Anakin had a total fucking shitfit after his mom died and he went on a killing spree:
A) Luke, you are such a dweeb and I love you for being a nineteen-year-old who still played with your Star Wars toys;
B) Please consider this your periodic reminder that it is canon that OBI-WAN MADE TOY SPACESHIPS FOR LUKE. HE DID THAT AND NOW VADER HAS TO LOOK AT IT. Oh my God: can you even imagine if we’d gotten the Happy Version and Obi-Wan and Anakin were both locked in a fierce competition to make increasingly insanely ornate toy ships for the kids?? MY HEART.
Anyways, no Happy Alternate Universes for us! Only pain will we find:
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Can’t Let It Go
This basically sends Anakin into a Reminiscing Spiral/Highlight Reel of His Losses and Fuckups: he sees Yoda telling him that anger leads to hate, he sees Padme rejecting his Unhinged Psychopath Rant about how they’ll overthrow the Emperor together, he sees Luke rejecting the same offer, and falling…which then, in his mind, becomes Padme:
The droid says the Larses “took the boy in”…and Vader spits back that they “made him weak”. Sure, sure, his companion agrees, but ultimately:
LOL VADER IGNITED HIS SABER. DUDE, THERE’S NOBODY HERE WHAT ARE YOU EVEN GOING TO DO WITH THAT. Are you going to fight the sand?! (He would.) I love that he’s so mad at everything and nothing and definitely not himself, oh no, never, HE’S NOT CRYING YOU ARE IT’S ALL OBI-WAN’S FAULT.
The droid explains that he thought he detected the graves of Owen and Beru, as two headstones peek a bit out of the ground, but they must actually be the graves of Shmi and Cliegg. Oh good, yes, let’s continue to have Anakin roll around in his Mommy Feels for a while longer. As Zed Six Seven keeps talking about how Owen and Beru must be buried elsewhere, and that they must have concealed these graves to better protect Luke, Vader just sort of blasts the whole vicinity with Force Anger:
His cape. Good LORD, Anakin. Can you be even remotely not-extra for like, even 12 seconds.
Recurring Theme: I Was Too Angry To Die
This throws Anakin into yet another flashback to his mom’s funeral, during which he acted extremely creepy and vowed to the deceased that he would never let anyone die again, which is…a way to be, I guess. His flashback unfortunately leaves out the fact that the entire funeral breaks up immediately, at the drop of a hat, when Obi-Wan sends Anakin a message, which is forever hilarious to me.
Some Imperials approach to warn Vader that they’ve detected some Nefarious Activity and at that moment they get blasted and a HUGE explosion erupts, and Zed Six Seven is like uhh…should we maybe go, or…
The pirates from before are like “OK, now we’ll just circle back to that shuttle and…”
HAHAHAHAHA OH MY GOD LOOK AT HIM. He was so wrapped up in being furious and Feeling Things that he refused to leave even after being SET ON FIRE FOR AT LEAST THE SECOND TIME IN HIS LIFE. I love that you can’t even get Anakin to stop being a drama queen WHILE HE IS CONSUMED BY FLAMES. He is dedicated to the craft, I guess.
So since Vader can’t kill Owen and Beru, or Obi-Wan for a second time, he decides to take out his rage on these pirates, Force-pulling their ship down and wailing on them:
As he leaves the scene, the droid asks if they’re done. No, Vader replies: they’ve just begun.
Recurring Theme: Why Knock When You Can Just Badass Your Way In?
They head over to Coruscant, where they land here:
LOL, the giant face statue. Good grief. Ohhhh, this series. Yes, we’re at Padme’s Posh Palatial Apartment where she kept all her fanciest things, like her 8,000,000 beaded ballgowns that she used as nightwear, her sleek furniture, and Anakin in his Hot, Troubled, and Shirtless Ensemble. The whole place has been sealed up since her death, which is a super normal thing to do.
Zed Six Seven says that, as there’s no entrance, perhaps they should contact local authorities, and I am loving the idea that Coruscant has locksmiths who specialize in removing the GIANT STATUE sealing up some guy’s dead wife’s apartment. Before he can finish his sentence though, Anakin takes care of it:
You guys. Didn’t other people live at this address? Are there former Senators who still live in the other apartments?! OH MY GOD. I have to believe the sealed monument to a dead woman on the penthouse floor and the fact that an angry terrifying cyborg with dark wizard powers keeps showing up to cry on the patio has to be bringing down the property values, no matter HOW swanky the neighborhood is. That’s to say nothing of the fact that if the maintenance guy has to go in there to fix a burst pipe or something, that has got to be a HUGE fucking hassle.
Zed Six Seven is like “uh, this is Padme Amidala’s house. Why are we here?” Vader plainly says that she was the mother, and the droid is like “whoa wait; of Skywalker? Huh! I guess that makes sense…”
OH YEAH THEY SURE DID. Many times. *wink* Amirite, girl? *high-fives Padme’s ghost*
Vader, breaking away from recalling those times he
got laid — sorry, MADE LOVE, yes Anakin, I KNOW — fumes that someone close to her must have known she was pregnant and taken the boy. But who? And could they have brought her back here? Zed Six Seven says the security recordings from immediately after her death are missing, but that could mean she or someone else did come back…looking for…a scout transmitter! Which he picks up:
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, About To Suffer Some More
We then cut to Vendaxa, where a melee is underway:
A bunch of terrifying insectoid monsters are busting into a bunker of sorts, and Vader comes sashaying in with his lightsaber behind them:
Vader wails on these creatures, and as he does he thinks about how Luke needs to know that the power…the power can save…
…and then he’s interrupted from his thoughts. By this lady:
DUN DUN DUUUUUN! Oh, yet another Very Confused Vader Moment for us all to savor. So, I ask you all not even for the first time: robot? Zombie? Ghost? Clone? Partially a cyborg? Unfrozen from carbonite? Undead Due To Hilarious Plot Reasons That May Or May Not Ever Be Fully Explained/Understood?
…actually, this time, it’s blessedly none of those. We’ll find out in the next issue who exactly this and what they’re looking for. Until then, like Vader, we shall remain clueless! Please join me for more Vader Angst in our next installment of this series — it’s gonna get a lot more painful, and I know how much you all love that. 😉 Thanks for reading — ’til next time!