Darth Vader #6: Into the Fire Part I
After seeing his son Luke fall through his grip at Bespin, Vader beats a path through the galaxy to uncover the plot and identities of those who conspired to hide the boy from him. Once he finds some answers, he is caught by his Master, the Emperor Palpatine. Only further pain awaits the dark lord.
Starting off an unusual early story arc, as the regular Star Wars series endded its arc after six issues instead of Vader’s five, the sullen Sith Lord speeds into ever darker waters. This issue is almost entirely about Vader being mentally tortured, flashbacks to his past, and lots and lots of discipline at the hands of the Emperor. There is not all that much in story progression in this oine, but it speaks volumes in character development. So far in this current series, Vader has almost never been in complete control of any situation. His whole mind is a wreck of tangled memories of a dead man’s past after fighting his son. Looks like some of his pesky humanity is returning to cause him more trouble. He is completely broken and vulnerable. He is a shell. However, to truly rise one must be pushed down to the very bottom, and Palpatine pushes Vader to the very bottom to stamp out any trace of the hero Anakin Skywalker.
The purpose of this first chapter is not to set up a new arc, or introduce a new stage of characters or settings. That all will undoubtedly come later. This particular issue was about striping all the power away from Vader to reinvent him. Seeing him so helpless is less than just sad, it’s pathetic. This guy is the terror of the galaxy. He has destroyed worlds. His name is synonymous with evil incarnate. This issue takes all that away to show how much more pitiable Vader has become when forced to relive Anakin’s failures and a spark of hope in a son. To add sand into the wound, the tortured chosen one begins too see himself more like one of his own countless victims. To become Vader again, he must become the broken man burning from lava and hatred again. He must be remade on his own in his master’s image. His path is set.
The team does a great job with this one. Pain mixed with contempt bleed throughout the writing and art on every page. Reading Vader being mentally dismantled is hard enough, but seeing him brutally physically ripped apart by way of the art is further devastating. The whole issue acts as more of a prelude of things to come. It would seem that the dust and sparks have subsided for now. It is very clear that the next issue will be a very different one. Vader’s journey to rock bottom is complete… again. Only one way out of there is up. The very last panel of this issue is the one and only clue to where this series is headed next. Vader must confront a new enemy, while rebuilding himself both literally and figuratively.
Vader is left in a dire position to fend for himself as he really is; without the armor, lightsaber, or The Force. He is a limbless ball of writhing pain, regret, and wrath. This is the stuff Sith legends are born from. What cybernetic phoenix will rise from these still burning embers? A reforged Sith weapon of destruction for sure, but perhaps one with a small spark of vengeance towards his cruel master as well.
Darth Vader #6: Men and Machines Both Break
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 7/107/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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