Darth Vader carries on business from the Clone Wars in Darth Vader #14.
This review contains plot details for Darth Vader #14 – Burning Seas Part II.
Darth Vader #14 – Burning Seas Part II
Writer: Charles Soule | Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli | Inks: Danielee Orlandini | Colorist: David Curiel | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Cover Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti | Assistant Editor: Heather Antos | Editor: Jordan B. White
In Darth Vader #13, the Empire arrived at Mon Cala and began aggressive negotiations. Unlike the Jedi, who prefer lightsabers, their diplomacy involved Star Destroyers, stormtroopers, TIE Fighters, and other military devices. Complicating matters was that Emperor Palpatine suspected the Mon Cala harbored a Jedi that was advising the king. Therefore, he dispatched Darth Vader and his Inquisitors to investigate. Although the Mon Cala preferred a peaceful solution to their dispute, that possibility vanished when the Imperial envoy to Mon Cala died in a suspicious shuttle explosion. In Darth Vader #14 – Burning Seas Part II, the Imperial invasion commences and Vader’s search for the suspected Jedi intensifies.
Vader Reflects on the Clone Wars
This mission is not Vader’s first trip to Mon Cala. Charles Soule reminds readers that Vader was there during the Clone Wars when he was Anakin Skywalker. In four panels over a single page, Vader reflects on the Clone Wars and describes King Lee-Char as determined, strong, and a unique individual. This is an explanation to the Ninth Sister, however, the accompanying panels feature the King very little.
The first panel shows Anakin in his underwater gear. This is followed by the only panel featuring Lee-Char. After that it is Padmé, Ahsoka, Jar Jar, and other Jedi. The final flashback panel features Padmé by herself. Even encased in life supporting armor and tied to the dark side of the Force, Darth Vader cannot help but get drawn back to his now deceased wife. It is a touch of nostalgia, and perhaps regret. Just like that though, it is over, and Vader is leading the Inquisitors into one of the cities on Mon Cala.
The Jedi Revealed
The last issue teased a Jedi advising King Lee-Char. This issue only briefly drew out the reveal of his identity as Master Barr, an Ikotchi male. Although he looks familiar and similar to another Star Wars character, this is his first appearance in Star Wars (second if you include his cloaked appearance in the last issue). The most notable example of an Ikotchi is Saesee Tinn, who was the horned Jedi that accompanied Mace Windu to fight Chancellor Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith. The reveal is only a letdown, if at all, because they went to the trouble of disguising his identity in the last issue. Considering how Master Barr is a new character, that seems like it was unnecessary in retrospect.
Perhaps more surprising is that Master Barr is not alone. He has a group of Jedi students with him. Notably, they are all carrying blasters instead of lightsabers. Therefore, they either must not have progressed far enough in their training to create their own sabers, or they were not able to collect their sabers before fleeing the destruction on Coruscant.
Master Barr explains to the assembled Jedi the importance of Darth Vader and that he is in fact Anakin Skywalker. He tells his students the story of how Skywalker was believed to be the Chosen One sent to bring balance to the Force. In the end, as Star Wars fans know, Anakin betrayed the Jedi and was instrumental in executing Order 66. It is slightly surprising that these apparent Padawans were unaware of Skywalker. His adventures during the Clone Wars would have made him one of the more famous Jedi. Likely, their ignorance was a plot device designed to refresh the reader on current events and give Barr an opportunity to explain how he came to the truth of the matter.
While Barr is telling the story of Anakin to his Padawans, he has a droid pull up a menu of holo-video options. The options are listed in Aurabesh. Translated, the list reads: Sidious, Order 66, Skywalker, Padawan, Maul, Tyrannus, Plagueis, Binks, Amidala, Sifo-Dyas, and Kamino. Master Barr has cracked the entire mystery of the Clone Wars from Sidious and his earlier apprentices all the way through Anakin’s downfall.
One of the Padawans asks Barr why he doesn’t reveal that the Inquisitors and Darth Vader are Jedi. After all, it could undermine Chancellor Palpatine’s rule. In response, Barr responds at this point, nobody would care. Even if they did, Palpatine would just lie, “as he always lies.” Furthermore, in these times, it is safer to believe the lie, so the lie becomes the truth.
This is an interesting perspective. Barr suggests that Palpatine is a liar. A careful study of the films reveals that Palpatine generally told the truth. For instance, Dooku told Kenobi that a Sith controlled the Senate. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan twisted the truth of Luke’s parentage. If anything, Palpatine hid facts and omitted things. Those might be lies of omission. It was the Jedi, such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, that clung to the notion of “truth from a certain point of view.” However, Palpatine perhaps told the biggest lie of them all to proclaim himself Emperor: the Jedi attempted to assassinate him and take over the Republic. Without diving into the details, Mace Windu and his companions attempted to arrest Palpatine, and they weren’t out for control of the Republic.
When one of his students demands vengeance for the Jedi, Barr responds it isn’t that simple. Furthermore, “Jedi” and “Sith” are abstract ideas for the average citizen of the galaxy. This is a profound statement. Star Wars fans are very familiar with both. But, how many citizens of that galaxy have actually encountered a Jedi? Whatever that number is, the number of those that encountered a Sith is likely less. In contrast, “oppression” and “freedom” are notions that the average citizen will understand. Therefore, if the Mon Cala are successful in resisting the Empire, their story will inspire the galaxy to resist.
Concluding Thoughts on Darth Vader #14 – Burning Seas Part II
King Lee-Char attempts to reason with Tarkin and the Empire in Darth Vader #14 – Burning Seas Part II. He strenuously objects to Tarkin’s claim that the Mon Cala assassinated the Imperial envoy. He sees through the ruse and calls Tarkin out on his claim that the Empire is conducting an investigation. Indeed, this is an invasion. When negotiation fails, Lee-Char evacuates his people from the city and calls on an unusual ally. He summons whales from the depths of Mon Cala, and when they breach the surface, the resulting tidal wave takes out the surface cities and destroys the Imperial forces on the surface. Darth Vader is last seen floating to the depths. Sith aren’t defeated so easily though.
In considering this issue, it is obvious that Barr and his apprentices cannot survive. Barr knows too much. Granted, the dissemination of the truth is likely to change little if anything in the galaxy. Vader has jealously guarded his identity over the years. When Inspector Thanoth revealed he knew the truth, he sacrificed his life in the process in Darth Vader #20. Therefore, it seems that Barr and his students’ time is limited.
Charles Soule has crafted another excellent chapter in the Burning Seas story. Darth Vader #14 — The Burning Seas Part II is enhanced by Giuseppe Camuncoli’s incredible pencil work. The characters, from Vader and the Inquisitors to Tarkin, and from King Lee-Char to Master Barr and his students are wonderful interpretations of their appearances in other media. So far, this is a well told story of the subjugation of Mon Cala and its people.