Darth Vader #22 – Fortress Vader Part IV Review

by Dennis Keithly

The mystery behind the mask is revealed as the Dark Lord works towards building his personal fortress in Darth Vader #22.

Warning: This review contains plot details for Darth Vader #22 – Fortress Vader Part IV.

Darth Vader #22 Cover

Darth Vader #22 – Fortress Vader Part IV

Writer: Charles Soule | Layouts: Giuseppe Camuncoli | Finishes: Daniele Orlandini with Terry Pallot | Colors: David Curiel | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna| Cover Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia

The Dark Lord of the Sith returned to Mustafar with the goal of constructing his own personal palace. In a past issue, Mustafar is where he bled his crystal. In doing so, he discovered a locus in the Force that was powerful with the dark side. Before he departed, Emperor Palpatine bade Vader take the Mask of Lord Momin. Although the mask is not new to readers of Star Wars comics, Momin is still a mystery. That mystery gets some enlightenment in Darth Vader #22.

The Histoy of Lord Momin

Darth Vader #22 – “Fortress Vader Part IV” primarily tells Momin’s story. The mask exerted its influence on Vader’s aides in the last issue. Sensing there is something more to Momin, Vader grabs the mask with the Force and drags it to the dark side locus on the planet. There Vader demands Momin reveal his history.

In short, Momin was an artist. However, he found the audiences for his art lacking in character. Momin created his art with the belief that “if people feel nothing when encountering something you have created then you have created nothing.” Momin strove to instill fear and pain in anyone who saw his work. His desire was to make anyone that saw his work “an animal.” Although the comic reader never saw his entire completed work, the audience reaction was enough. It was abhorrent. He was imprisoned for it.

Then Shaa found him. She was a dark side user, and she claimed Momin as her apprentice. Momin learned about the Force from her. Eventually, he grew tired of being an apprentice and killed her. The relationship sounds very much like that of a Sith Master and Apprentice. On his own, Momin attempted the creation of a horrific piece of art. However, the Jedi interceded, and he was defeated. His mask remained.

Darth Vader #22 - Vader and Momin's helmet review a schematic for a castle.

The Mysteries of Lord Momin

While Darth Vader #22 clears up some of the mystery surrounding Lord Momin, it doesn’t answer every question. For instance, there is Momin’s helmet. Darth Vader communed with the helmet after his aides were possessed by it. The question is whether the helmet itself contains Momin’s spirit or force presence, or whether what is there is some sort of dark side shadow. It nearly consumes Vader in this issue, but he fights back.

Also, of interest is whether Momin was actually a Sith. He never addresses himself or Shaa as such. If he was a Sith, it is unclear whether he was in the line of Sith that predates Vader. If so, the question arises how the Sith continued after his defeat. He declared to Vader that he never took an apprentice himself. Perhaps one of the Jedi that took his mask passed on his teachings and the Sith survived that way. Exactly what Lord Momin is remains unclear.

The Construction of Fortress Vader

Vader listens to Momin. When Momin’s story is over, Vader is trying on the mask. However, he rejects it at the last moment. Then he finds a new wearer. One of the Mustafarians investigating the arrival of Vader starship is the unlucky new host. Once the mask is on, Momin takes over the body. Vader then demands Momin reveal the secrets of the fortress that he compelled Vader’s former aide to create.

Momin’s fortress design intrigues Vader. The dark side locus in the Force drew Vader back to Mustafar. He suspects the locus is a key to a door. Momin confirms that door leads to the dark side. In addition, beyond the door lies Vader’s love. Momin declares the fortress is the key to unlocking the door. Vader doesn’t take this lightly. He threatens Momin against lying. Vader cites the fact that Emperor Palpatine once lied to him about the ability of the dark side to prevent people from dying.

Momin protests these allegations. He declares he isn’t lying. This is an opportunity. Momin can make his greatest creation, and it will be perfect.

Darth Vader #22 Fortress Vader Part IV - Vader threatens Momin

Final Thoughts on Darth Vader #22 – Fortress Vader Part IV

Star Wars is a unique property. It combines fantasy and science fiction into a spectacular space opera. As George Lucas and Gary Kurtz put it, Star Wars is a fairy tale. Indeed, it is a fairy tale for all ages. Make no mistake, Star Wars often falls short on the science in the science fiction portion with its frequent disregard of physics. That said, Star Wars is best, in the opinion of this reviewer, when it achieves the right balance between fantasy and its own physics. In other words, there is a fine line when it comes to Force mystique.

The Legends continuity ran over that line frequently. In some novels and comics, the Jedi became demigods. As much as I enjoyed many of those stories, the Force often became a convenient method for resolving plot difficulties. Overall, the new continuity has done much better keeping the Force regulated.

Darth Vader #22 – Fortress Vader Part IV does a great job walking that fine line. Indeed, this issue walks right up to that line with Momin’s story of how he nearly froze an entire city with the Force at the moment of their destruction. However, that might be embellishment. The Jedi thwarted him. Plus, his promise of providing a key to the dark side and his lost love seems exaggerated. Vader himself points out this lie was told before.

Regardless, Fortress Vader Part IV creates an interesting construction story. Soule and Marvel might simply have sent a construction crew with a blue print to Mustafar. Instead, they created something far more interesting. There is still the cloud of mystery over this project. The fortress grabbed the attention of Star Wars fans in Rogue One. However, that appearance was a cameo. The history and the mystery are here.

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