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Comic Book / Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020)

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Ghosts of Vader's past.

Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020) is the third ongoing Marvel Comics series focusing primarily on the titular Dark Lord of the Sith. Set in the immediate aftermath of The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader goes on a rampage across the galaxy seeking to punish all those who have hidden and turned his son from him and determine the true cause of Padmé Amidala's death. His investigation soon brings him into contact with a familiar face from his past as he reckons with the dark deeds that have brought him to this point.

The series is written by Greg Pak with art by Raffaele Ienco.

Tropes in this series include:

  • Agent Provocateur: In Issue #21, Ochi stokes General Romodi's anger at Vader's Bad Boss attitude towards his men so that he'll send a squad of droid soldiers to ambush Vader's special ops team.
  • Asshole Victim: A band of raiders spot a lone Imperial shuttle approaching Tatooine and believe it will be an easy prize to attack and capture intact after it lands. A fatal mistake for them all as it has Vader and a trio of Death Troopers abroad.
  • Back from the Dead: "Padmé" claims herself to be one to Vader. Not really though — she's Sabé and only did so because of Vader's reaction to seeing her.
  • Badass Boast: Vader in Issue #10, when Ochi tells him that the Emperor will kill him for using the Force during his test (specifically to bend the Summa-Verminoth to his will).
    Vader: Many have made such promises. They hoped to fill me with fear. But fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to power. So now, let the Emperor fear me.
  • Bullying a Dragon: In Issue #14, Sly Moore and her circle of supporters try to assassinate Vader. He slaughters the bulk of them in short order, and makes Moore herself an Unwitting Pawn of his own plans.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Four of the former handmaidens who were with Padmé when Anakin originally met her, along with one who was in her service just before she secretly married, return and have banded back together to avenge her.
    • The Amidalans also include Ric Olie, the Queen's pilot in The Phantom Menace, and Gregar Typho, her former bodyguard in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
    • Sly Moore finally makes a reappearance in canon after the Disney buyout, her last canonical appearance being in Revenge of the Sith. She is sent to Mustafar to oversee Vader's torture and keep Ochi in line, showing she is deeply involved in Palpatine's Dark Side activities like in Legends.
    • Anakin's childhood friends Kitster and Wald show up in Issue #23, living on a colony of freed slaves.
  • Call-Back:
  • Call-Forward: The Into the Fire arc has numerous nods towards The Rise of Skywalker — Vader is hunted by the Sith cultist Ochi of Bestoon (who will eventually kill Rey's parents), encounters the Eye of Webbish Bog (which appears in the official novelization of the movie), and eventually heads to Exegol.
  • Carnival of Killers: Following War of the Bounty Hunters, Vader recruits the Assassins Guild to help him hunt Crimson Dawn's moles.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Issue #19 features Vader employing Valance, who was at that point recently press-ganged back into Imperial service.
    • Unlike all the heroes, the Imperials rarely interact with any droids, and even seem to barely notice their presence. Rabé takes advantage of this to infiltrate the Executor by disguising as a protocol droid.
  • Cruel Mercy: Vader finds what he needs without needing to damage Padmé's tomb, and leaves Ric Olié and the former Handmaidens alive (albeit nonfatally injuring the former, and after massacring all the other troops with them), if only to finish them and the rest of their forces later.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Any attack on Vader is inevitably doomed... Unless it's Palpatine, in which case it's the exact opposite.
    • Palpatine delivers another one to the Summa-Verminoth, Vader’s skyscraper-sized pet, when he compels it to crush itself to death with the Force.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Everything the ZED-6-7 droid says is full of snark.
    • Vader has plenty of moments.
      Vader: You serve the Emperor. What does he want?
      Ochi: You dead!
      Vader: Beyond that.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Even after already suffering a massacre against Vader's group on Naboo, the Amidalans accept his blatant invitation on where to find him next.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: When confronted by the Summa-Verminoth, Vader ultimately uses the Force to make it submit to his will.
    • In Issue #11, when Vader uses the tamed Summa-Verminoth as an eldritch mount to threaten the Emperor… an unimpressed Palpatine casually uses the Force to make the creature crush itself to death with its own tentacles, despite Vader’s own efforts to stop him.
  • Double Agent: In Issue #17, the readers learn that Ochi is a Crimson Dawn operative.
  • Dramatic Irony: Sabé and her cohorts want to kill Vader to avenge Padmé and Anakin, never realizing Anakin and Vader are the same person.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Summa-Verminoth, a Star Destroyer-sized squid-like creature living in the Red Horror nebula which is capable of Mind Raping its prey.
    • The giant crustacean creatures native to Exegol, unleashed by Darth Sidious in Issue #11.
  • Elite Mooks: The Death Troopers that Vader brings with him on his search.
  • Enemy Mine: Sabé reluctantly agrees to ally with Vader for his investigation into Padmé's death, as she still seeks answers herself to what happened. Subverted, as it turns out that she had deduced he was responsible for Padmé's death, and is luring him into a trap to kill him.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Vader vs the Sith Assassin Ochi while stranded on Mustafar.
  • First-Episode Twist: Padmé appears in the flesh to Vader, somehow still alive. The subsequent issue then reveals that she's just Sabé impersonating Padmé.
  • Flashback: The first arc has Vader briefly flashback to moments from the movies when he is reminded of them twenty or so years later.
  • For the Evulz:
    • In Issue #2, Sabé demands that Vader's droid help her bury her men that Vader and his troopers just killed. Vader makes him do it not out of respect for Sabé, but only to peeve the droid for being annoying.
    • In Issue #3, Vader obliterates a mural depicting the heroes of the Battle of Naboo (including child Anakin) to show he's losing patience with Sabé stringing him along (as well as other reasons).
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Though Vader learns the circumstances of Luke's birth, he never learns that Padmé also gave birth to a girl, Leia, as well, a fact he will not discover until his duel with Luke in Return of the Jedi.
    • Vader's rebellion against the Emperor will obviously fail, as he's still serving Palpatine in ROTJ.
    • Ochi will survive everything thrown at him until he kills Rey's parents as revealed in The Rise of Skywalker.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Palpatine stranding a crippled Vader on Mustafar and forbidding him from using the Force to escape was an attempt to remind him of what a "true" Sith is supposed to be. It leads to Vader taking the first opportunity to try and find out Palpatine's secrets, as a true Sith apprentice would.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Vader ultimately cuts ZED-6-7 in half when he doesn't need him anymore. Sabé later repairs and reprograms the droid.
  • I Fight for the Strongest Side!: Ochi cheerfully admits that he'll serve whomever he feels is the strongest.
  • Implacable Man: With Vader this is expected; the three Death Troopers with him are nearly his equal against any conventional army (and one gigantic sea monster).
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Sabé's depiction in this comic is based off an older Keira Knightley, her original actor in The Phantom Menace. ZED-6-7 even remarks on the physical differences between her and Padmé's original actor, Natalie Portman.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • Darth Vader learns what happened to Padmé after his duel with Obi-Wan on Mustafar, namely that Kenobi took her to Polis Massa where she gave birth and died, then took his newborn son into hiding on Tatooine.
    • Issue 20 has Sabé learn for the first time that Padmé gave birth to a son sired by Anakin before she died, and her son is now the Rebel hero Luke Skywalker. Sabé remains unknowing that Padmé had twins.
    • Like Obi-Wan had felt the annihilation of Alderaan through the Force, Vader had experienced the same. It is implied to have been internally haunting Vader since.
  • Ironic Echo: In Issue #19, Valance confronts Ochi about Vader using him and the Revengers as bait, with Ochi snarking "You're working for Darth Vader. What did you expect?". A little while later, Vader throws Ochi into the resulting firefight with the others to act as further bait, with Valance repeating the line to mock him.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: In Issue #6, Palpatine punishes Vader for going against his orders by shocking him, Force crushing much of his armor and his prosthetics, and then dumping him on Mustafar to repair himself without the Force. While there may be some pity for Vader considering his wavering morality, that was a recent development for a mass murderer with decades of countless atrocities to his name.
  • Lured Into a Trap:
    • The Amidalans lure Darth Vader to an underwater base on Naboo, so they can sic a sand aqua monster on him. Unfortunately for them, he manages to kill the monster and escape the trap.
    • Later, Vader lets the Amidalans know where he's going, so that they'll all gather for a mass attack and allow him to finish them off.
  • Metaphorically True: The Amidalans believe that Vader killed Padmé and Anakin on Mustafar, which is true from a certain point of view.
    Vader: Of course I did.
  • Mind Rape: The Summa-Verminoth does this to Vader in Issue #10, showing him visions of when Obi-Wan left him to die and of Luke killing him to take his place as Palpatine's apprentice.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Vader doesn't hold Luke responsible for rejecting his We Can Rule Together offer during their duel on Cloud City. Rather, he blames Obi-Wan and the Larses for raising him to be "weak".
  • Mugging the Monster: A gang of Space Pirates near Tatooine see an unescorted Imperial shuttle landing, and assume it'll be an easy target for a robbery. Unfortunately for them, the only occupants are a pissed-off Darth Vader and a squad of Death Troopers.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: When Vader becomes focused on saving Sabé, Palpatine senses exactly what's going on with Vader at that moment.
  • Mythology Gag: Before CGI's development, the protocol droids were portrayed in live-action by actors in suits. Rabé infiltrates the Executor by masquerading as an RA-7 protocol droid.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • In Issue #12, despite Vader's rebellion against him, Sidious still accepts him back as his apprentice rather easily (against the advice of Amedda) and he even completely restores Vader (once again). After Vader is restored and is asking for orders, the Emperor simply tells him to decide for himself as a Sith Lord should.
      Darth Vader: What is your will, my master ?
      Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine: What is your will, my apprentice ? You have seen the secrets of the Dark Side. You know the way of the Sith. Decide for yourself.
    • A zigzagged example. In the same issue, while discussing about Vader, Sidious reassures Mas Amedda and Sly Moore that he is beyond Vader's reach but at the same time, Palpatine mocks them to be unworthy of Vader's attention.
      Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine: So concerned ! Do not worry yourselves. I am beyond his reach and you are beneath his notice.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Palpatine's actions imply this is the case for him being generally nicer to Vader in the new canon than in Legends. When Vader steps out of line, he's perfectly happy to brutally torture him and leave him crippled on Mustafar and hunted by an assassin to force him to get back in line with being a proper Sith or die. In addition, as Luke had now been discovered, Vader is far more expendable than he once was.
  • Psychic Strangle: Vader ends up on the receiving end for once, courtesy of Palpatine.
  • Recycled Plot: One of the B-plots in the Legends novel series Coruscant Nights also featured Captain Typho investigating the death of Padmé on Mustafar, though he mostly did so alone in the novel, instead of being part of a large group of Padmé's former associates. And like the Amidalans, Typho came to the conclusion that Padmé and Anakin were ambushed and murdered by Darth Vader, not realizing Anakin is Vader.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Vader projects his failure to save his mother and Padmé into saving Sabé when she's in danger.
  • La Résistance: Issue #18 introduces the Revengers, a group of people whose worlds have been destroyed by Crimson Dawn, and who have banded together to fight them.
  • Retcon: The Rise of Skywalker implied that Palpatine only started building the Final Order armada after being resurrected. Issue #11, however, shows that several hundred of the ships had already been built by the timeframe immediately following The Empire Strikes Back. However, the fact that Palpatine's ships aren't ready is justified not only by the sheer quantity of them, but the fact that the miniaturized Death Star tech that the First Order perfected by the time of The Last Jedi wouldn't be ready for decades.
  • Robot Buddy: ZED-6-7, the forensics droid that Vader brings along in his investigation.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: In Issue #21, G-90 sides with the Revengers in killing several Crimson Dawn operatives they and Vader's hired assassins were supposed to take alive, because they were caught torturing people. Vader kills G-90 for it.
  • Secret Test of Character: In Issue #15, Vader leaves Ochi to fight a bunch of Crimson Dawn mooks by himself, to see if he'll fight loyally for Vader or sell out to save himself.
  • She-Fu: When Vader brings Sabé before Palpatine but leaves her to face off against him by herself, she uses such moves to fight off a pair of Red Guards and maneuver Palpatine into having to Force-lightning his own Guards.
  • The Snark Knight: Ochi is all snark at everyone and everything at all times.
  • Spotting the Thread: Sabé noticed various, far-flung details that, when pieced together, had lead her to realize that Vader is Anakin.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Padmé, painting herself as a bitter ghost to haunt Vader for his sins. Subverted in that she's actually Sabé, who is somewhat more cynical than Padmé.
    • Darth Sidious, believe it or not. He was never remotely a good person to begin with but in past Darth Vader works, he was much more lenient with Vader, only scolding him and demoting him at the worst, and on some occasions, even praising Vader for going behind his back as being the way of the Sith. And the one time he assaulted Vader, it was only in retaliation for Vader attacking him first in a fit of emotional rage over Padme's death. However, by this point, he needs very little provocation to torture and maim Vader for going against his orders, bringing Palpatine's characterization much closer to his original Legends incarnation. Justified as this is more due to the fact that this instance of going behind Sidious' back had nothing to do with being a Sith or helping the empire at all. It was because he could sense that Vader was beginning to waiver in his devotion to the dark side and Sith, as revisiting his past brought up the reasons why Vader even joined Palpatine in the first place and Sidious sensed Vader being "weakened" by sentiment. Not only that but now that Luke is revealed and is a potential Superior Successor, Vader's value as an apprentice has greatly diminished, a point he is more than happy to imply.
  • Uncertain Doom: It's left ambiguous as to whether or not the former Handmaidens, along with Olié, Tonra, and Typho, were among the Amidalan forces massacred by Vader and the Death Troopers at Polis Massa.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Sly Moore's loyalty to Palpatine is absolute, to the point of wanting to eliminate Vader as a potential threat to him.
    • Ochi develops this to Vader after experiencing firsthand how powerful he is.
  • The Unintelligible: The Death Troopers, like before. ZED-6-7 can understand their speech, and Vader seems to.
  • Unwitting Pawn:
    • At the end of Issue #14, Vader forces Sly Moore to attend the auction for Han Solo on his behalf supposedly so she can bring Han to him as bait for Luke. In actuality, it's just an excuse to put her in the same room as all the other people he plans to kill (though she ultimately survives).
    • In Issue #21, Vader reveals that he's been aware of Ochi's service to Crimson Dawn all along, and was playing ignorant in order to use Ochi to lead him to higher-up members of the organization.
  • Villainous Rescue: In Issue #16, Sly Moore sends droid mercenaries to save Luke from Vader, in order to spite the latter.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Between not knowing anything about him, and the fact that he shares their opposition to Crimson Dawn, the Revengers see Vader as a hero.
  • We Have Reserves: In Issue #10, Sly Moore has no problem dispatching hundreds of TIE fighters to try and overwhelm Vader after he starts picking off the few already sent after him.
  • Wham Line:
    • Vader recognizing "Padmé" as Sabé in Issue #2.
    Vader: You're the queen's shadow; a handmaiden from Naboo. [accompanying visuals show a flashback of Sabé accompanying Queen Amidala]
    • In Issue #22 (appropriately), Sabé tells Vader that she's figured out who he is.
    Sabé: Why should I be scared... of Anakin Skywalker?
  • Wham Shot:
    • In Issue #4, Sabé with Padmé's four other handmaidens, all intent on keeping Vader from desecrating their late queen's grave.
    • Issue #11 reveals that Palpatine has Luke Skywalker's disembodied hand from Bespin, with subsequent panels implying that it may be used as material to help create Force-Sensitive monsters with it.
    • The last scene of Issue #18 shows that Sabé has joined Crimson Dawn.
    • The last scene in Issue #22 shows Sabé revealing to Darth Vader that she knows he is Anakin Skywalker.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • Palpatine tortures Vader in Issue #6 for failing to convert Luke to the Dark Side and for defying his orders by investigating Padmé's death. Then he dumps Vader on Mustafar and leaves him to be hunted by a Sith Assassin.
    • For failing in her part to torment Vader during the Into the Fire arc, Sly Moore is demoted from being part of Palpatine's inner circle to just another bureaucratic flunky.
    • In Issue #21, Vader kills the droid assassin G-90 for killing several targets Vader wanted alive.