Darth Vader hunts Jedi and confronts a mystery with a possible betrayal in Darth Vader #11 The Rule of Five Part I.
This review contains plot details for Darth Vader #11 – The Rule of Five Part I.
Darth Vader #11 – The Rule of Five Part I
Writer: Charles Soule | Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli | Inks: Danielee Orlandini | Colorist: David Curiel | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Cover Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli & Francesco Mattina | Assistant Editor: Heather Antos | Editor: Jordan B. White
With the hunt for Jocasta Nu concluded, Darth Vader, the Inquistorius, and the Empire resume the hunt for the Jedi that survived Order 66. The hunt brings Darth Vader and the Ninth Sister to the Colonies Region of Cabarria to investigate a Jedi sighting. However, it proves to be a trap, and bounty hunters attack Vader in the belief he is a Jedi wanted by the Empire. Vader suspects betrayal from the Ninth Sister and then elsewhere. After tracking down and subduing the bounty hunters, Vader learns the stunning truth of the identity of the source of the bounty on his life in Darth Vader #11 – The Rule of Five Part I.
No Respect for the Sith Lord
An ongoing theme of Darth Vader is the Dark Lord’s reputation or lack thereof. In Darth Vader #11, Vader barely earned the respect of the Ninth Sister. Although he took one of her eyes in training, she still possesses enough bravado to talk back to him. She first challenges him on his presence at this Jedi sighting. She can read emotions, it is her special gift in the Force, and she knows he is itching for a fight with a Jedi. Later, the Ninth Sister declines to answer a call for backup when Vader calls. This is remarkable given Vader’s dominance over the Inquisitorius. Perhaps it is a result of resentment. Furthermore, the Ninth Sister is brazen about the fact that her fellow inquisitors are former Jedi and traitors to the Republic, and quite possibly potential traitors to the Empire.
In addition, the bounty hunters have no idea who Darth Vader is. All they saw was an individual using the Force in self-defense. That checked out with the description of their anonymous bounty. Despite taking the fight to Vader, he overwhelmed them, displaying raw power on a level they hadn’t seen before. Even in the end, when the bounty hunters are at Vader’s mercy, they still don’t know who he is, and they relent to his power because he holds the life of one of them in his hands.
A Family that Hunts Together
What makes this squad of bounty hunters unique is their relationship to one another. This isn’t the usual assembly of scum from across the galaxy. No, in this case, the bounty hunters are family. Furthermore, they aren’t just any family, they are the Cha family. That name may not be familiar to the average Star Wars fan, however, it is significant in the Star Wars comics produced by Marvel, and especially those written by Charles Soule.
Chanath Cha first appeared in the Star Wars universe in Lando #2. Set farther into the future, Lando #2 presented Chanath as a prestigious bounty hunter often employed by Emperor Palpatine. In that story, the Emperor hired her to track down his missing luxury yacht and the thieves that took it, which just happened to be Lando and a crew. This connection will prove important later.
In Darth Vader #11 – The Rule of Five Part I, Chanath is still a child, perhaps a teenager, and she works as part of a team with her parents. She springs the trap on Vader by snagging his lightsaber with a “tractor rifle.” Vader permitted Chanath to flee in an agreement with her parents when they gave themselves up. She vowed not to seek revenge on Vader.
The Source of the Bounty and Betrayal
By the end of this issue, Vader wants one thing: the identity of the one who betrayed him. Vader initially suspects the Ninth Sister. However, simple logic, namely that she wouldn’t have shown up to betray Vader, dispels that possibility. At Vader’s insistence, the Cha’s slice through the encrypted bounty they accepted, and they trace the source back to the Senatorial District on Coruscant. In fact, they trace it all the way to the top – Emperor Palpatine himself.
The issue concludes with this revelation, and readers are left to speculate on the many possibilities ast to exactly what this means. First, it might be a red herring or simply false. Perhaps someone planted this bounty to fool Vader. Alternatively, perhaps the Emperor did place a bounty on Vader. Why might he have done that?
There are at least a few potential reasons Palpatine might choose to send bounty hunters after his apprentice. One is that the Sith are natural rivals to one another. The Apprentice will one day rise up and challenge the Master for supremacy of the Sith. However, while the Sith frequently strike from the shadows at the Jedi and the galaxy, they typically deal with another in a more directly confrontational matter. Another obvious possibility is that the Emperor is simply testing Vader. Although an accomplished Jedi, Vader still has much to learn about the Sith and this might just be one way the Emperor goes about providing that education. He could be providing a lesson in Sith secrecy, investigation, or cunning. A final bit of speculation: the Emperor might simply wish to expose Vader to the galaxy. What better way to have the fear of Vader spread than having the black armored enforcer of the Emperor arrive and spread death and destruction? One would develop a reputation quickly that way.
Final Thoughts on Darth Vader #11 – The Rule of Five Part I
There are a few other items worth mentioning in this issue. First, Vader’s lightsaber, save the Kyber crystal, was destroyed. Vader was using the hilt of Mater Infil’a, whom he defeated in Darth Vader #4 – The Chosen One Part IV. Vader bled Infil’a’s Kyber crystal, but he retained the hilt. Now, Vader will need to construct a new lightsaber hilt, something of his own design.
The Ninth Sister is a unique character. She is a Dowutin, the same species as Grummgar, the massive alien seen lounging in Maz Kanata’s palace during The Force Awakens. Darth Vader #11 isn’t her first appearance in the comics nor the first appearance of a Dowutin in the Star Wars universe outside of the movies. However, it is the most extensive use of this alien race.
Charles Soule continues to prove a cunning writer. The dialogue in this issue is as sharp as ever. The plot is intriguing. And many of the characters are fresh and creative. Soule is doing some of the best work in Star Wars right now. The current volume of Vader has impressed from the start, and this issue is no different.
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.