Marvel launches the story of the first days of Darth Vader.
This article discusses plot details of Darth Vader #1 – The Chosen One Part I.
Darth Vader #1 – The Chosen One Part I
Writer: Charles Soule | Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli | Inks: Cam Smith | Colorist: David Curiel | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Cover Artist: Jim Cheung & Matthew Wilson | Assistant Editor: Heather Antos | Editor: Jordan B. White
The First Days of the Chosen One
Last year, Marvel concluded Kieron Gillen’s story of Darth Vader’s search for the identity of the Rebel pilot that destroyed the Death Star. Now, Marvel is back with a new story of the Dark Lord. This time Charles Soule returns to Vader’s beginnings and tells the tale of Vader’s first days in the black armor. Like Frankenstein’s monster, Darth Vader’s assembly is complete and he steps off the operating table. His story begins within the pages of the first story arc: The Chosen One Part I.
A New Beginning
Star Wars fans remember Vader’s first scenes in the black suit from Revenge of the Sith. Strapped to the table, Darth Vader begins his iconic breathing. The Emperor has a question. Could Lord Vader hear him? Darth Vader responds by asking about Padme. The Emperor, Darth Sidious, tells a half-truth that in his anger, Darth Vader killed her. This book appears to commence after the Emperor’s answer.
In Revenge of the Sith, Darth Vader was overcome with grief. He lashed out with the Force to correspond with his denial. For many fans, his hollered lament of “No!” elicited groans and later snickers. The Chosen One Part I rewrites Darth Vader’s reaction. Instead of just crying “no” while unleashing the Force throughout the medical bay, Darth Vader directs his anger towards the Emperor as well. Darth Vader throws Darth Sidious up against the wall with the Force.
However, Sidious has comforting words for Darth Vader. He tells Vader it is true that Padme is dead, but she left him a gift. That gift is pain. And pain is fuel for the dark side of the Force. Given the choice between accepting the gift or dying, Vader accepts the gift and lives.
Still the Old Boss
Once that business is settled, Darth Sidious reminds Darth Vader who is boss. The Sith Master unleashes force lightning on Darth Vader and asks why doesn’t he protect himself with his lightsaber. There are a couple of lessons for Vader here.
First, Darth Vader states his lightsaber was lost. Star Wars fans recall that Obi-Wan took Anakin’s lightsaber after defeating him on Mustafar. Sidious’s first lesson is that lightsaber belonged to another. A Jedi. Darth Vader is no Jedi. Indeed, he is a Sith, and the Sith acquire their lightsabers a different way.
Second, Darth Sidious threatens Vader’s life should Vader ever touch him with the Force again. Although Sidious has empathy for Vader and his recent experience, he will not tolerate Vader attacking him. However, he quickly puts this incident behind them. They have an Empire to run after all.
A Lesson in Lightsabers
After putting Darth Vader in his place, Darth Sidious reminds him they are friends. Furthermore, they have the work of the Empire to attend to. However, Sidious has something to show Vader first. From a vantage point overlooking Coruscant, the pair watches as Mas Amedda delivers a speech. Mas Amedda recites the Empire’s propaganda concerning how the Emperor saw through the Jedi and delivered the Empire from their treachery. While he does this, clone troopers destroy a collection of Jedi lightsabers in a public display. The public desecration of Jedi artifacts is reminiscent of book burnings, witch trials, and other movements from our own history.
Meanwhile, the Emperor teaches Darth Vader that Sith take their lightsabers by force. For the Sith, nothing is given. The Sith bleed the crystals of the Jedi to fashion their own weapons. During this process, a Sith pours his pain into the Kyber crystal until the living crystal can no longer take the agony. Once that happens, the Kyber crystal turns red, the color of a Sith’s rage.
This is not a new lesson to Star Wars. Although Darth Vader claims the Jedi failed to teach it to him, Ahsoka knew all about it. She rescued crystals previously bled by a Sith inquisitor in the novel Ahsoka. When exactly she learned this is unclear, but it is not quite the secret Vader and Sidious would believe. Vader realizes the Emperor didn’t give him one of the Jedi’s crystals. Instead, Vader must seize one for himself.
A Sith’s Trials
Sidious’s lesson that Sith earn their lightsabers does not distinguish them from the Jedi. The Jedi of the Old Republic earned their lightsabers as well. The Clone Wars demonstrated how Jedi younglings travelled to Ilum and braved an ice cave to earn their Kyber crystals. There was no guarantee they would succeed or survive the ordeal.
Regardless, Sidious takes Vader to a Mid Rim world. There, Vader must seek out a Jedi and take his Kyber crystal. In addition, there is an additional level of difficulty. Although Sidious had a starship delivered to this world, it was stolen. Therefore, Vader must travel on foot. Of course such difficulties should matter not to a Sith.
Vader’s trial raises a question concerning his predecessors. Darth Vader is not the first apprentice to Palpatine. Count Dooku and Darth Maul preceded him. How did they acquire their Kyber crystals? Darth Maul currently features in his own comic series. In that series, he yearns to fight a Jedi as if it were a new experience. Should he not have fought a Jedi to earn his Kyber crystal already? And what of Count Dooku? He is a former Jedi. Did he defeat one of his former brethren to take and bleed their crystal? His old saber would have belonged to another, and as Sidious said, that would not have been sufficient. Perhaps there are more tales of the Sith for the future.
Once Sidious leaves, Vader begins his task. He adjusts the lenses of his helmet until the path of the thieves is revealed. Then he tracks them down to their base. Although he has no saber, his power is more than enough for the scavengers that work there. He quickly dispatches them with Force throws and strangulation. Despite taking a blaster shot to his chest, the scavengers were no challenge.
Darth Vader #1: The Chosen One Part I is an interesting retelling of Darth Vader’s first days. James Luceno previously covered this territory with the Legends novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. There are similar elements between the two, but this story is unique. It has the advantage of the story group behind it and a tighter connection to continuity. Obviously, Darth Vader has much to learn as a Sith, but surprisingly, there was very little angst in this book. Once his initial outburst was behind him, Darth Vader seemingly accepts the loss of his wife, Padme, and his former life and embraces his pain and new existence. This story should be fascinating going forward.
Favorite Panel of Darth Vader #1: The Chosen One Part I
Giuseppe Camuncoli contributed the pencil work to this issue with David Curiel proving the color work supplemented by Joe Caramagna’s lettering. Camuncoli is known for his work on The Amazing Spider-Man among other things. His pencil work in The Chosen One Part I is remarkable. The first pages are a spectacular reveal of Darth Vader. Each image shows some part of the operating room where Darth Vader as the mechanical monster he came to be was born. The first is his arm tearing free of the operating table. The next is a surgical droid sparking as the Force destroys it. Then an image of a grisly looking Palpatine smiling at Vader’s rage is shown. An image of a choking Padme follows.
Finally, the scene settles on Darth Vader as he tears himself from the table and unleashes the Force on Sidious. That panel speaks volumes about the state of affairs for Vader and Sidious. It is also an excellent transition for Revenge of the Sith to this series. Beyond that, it is beautifully illustrated and colored. For those reasons, that is the favorite panel of Darth Vader #1: The Chosen One Part I.
No Good Deed
By Chris Eliopoulos & Jordie Bellaire
As has become tradition with the new Marvel Star Wars series, Marvel attached a droid mini-adventure to the end of Darth Vader #1. In this story, Darth Vader tasks a mouse droid with preparing his meditation chamber. As the droid begins its task, a number of Imperial officers interrupt Vader. Each has failed Vader for the last time and pays for their incompetence with their lives. Eventually, the distractions end, the mouse droid prepares the chamber, and Vader is pleased. That is, Vader was pleased until the droid ran into his leg, and at that point, Vader destroys the droid.
While cute, these droid mini-adventures undermine the gravity of the main story. Furthermore, the carnage inflicted by Vader on the Imperial Officers is in stark contrast to the otherwise cute nature of the mouse droid desperately trying to do its job. These stories aren’t terrible, but they aren’t for me. I find them a distraction at the end of the issue. The style seems better suited for the Sunday comics page in the newspaper than as an add-on to a Marvel comic book.
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.