Darth Vader #23 – Fortress Vader Part V Review

by Dennis Keithly

Darth Vader completes his castle on Mustafar and a doorway through the dark side of the Force in Darth Vader #23 – Fortress Vader Part V. Will he find what he is looking for when he opens it?

Warning: This review contains plot details for Darth Vader #23 – Fortress Vader Part V.

Darth Vader #23 Fortress Vader Part V - Cover

Darth Vader #23 – Fortress Vader Part V

Writer: Charles Soule | Layouts: Giuseppe Camuncoli | Finishes: Daniele Orlandini | Colors: David Curiel and Dono Sanchez-Almara | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna| Cover Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia

Previously, the Emperor awarded Darth Vader Mustafar as his personal domain. Vader chose the lava world because it contains a dark side nexus to the Force. The Emperor bade Vader to take the helmet of Momin with him. Momin’s Force presence emerged in Darth Vader #22 and struck a deal with Vader to complete Vader’s castle. In Darth Vader #23 – Fortress Vader Part V, Momin completes Vader’s palace and creates a portal through the dark side by trial and error. Now, all that is left is for Vader to open the door. However, will Vader find what he is looking for, or does something else lie beyond?

Portals to Other Worlds

The “Fortress Vader” story arc hints that Vader wants a portal through the Force. More specifically, he wants a portal that will allow him to reunite with Padmé. One might ask whether this is a realistic goal in Star Wars. To answer that question, one needs to look at other Star Wars stories.

Portals through space and time and to other worlds are not unheard of in Star Wars. The “Mortis” arc of The Clone Wars provides an example of one such portal. Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka found themselves in this realm. While in Mortis, Anakin was recruited as a successor to the “Father” in the hopes he would maintain the balance of the Force there.

Rebels revealed another dimension in the episode “A World Between Worlds.” With the help of the Loth-wolves, Ezra Bridger found his way into this dimension between time and space. From there, he reached back in time and rescued Ahsoka from Darth Vader. In addition, Darth Sidious was aware of this dimension. He hoped to recruit Ezra to help him find his way there.

Therefore, it isn’t unreasonable for Vader to expect his new palace, complete with a portal powered by the dark side of the Force, to open a gate to his deceased wife, Padmé Amidala. However, there was something Vader wasn’t counting on that got in the way.

Darth Vader #23 - Fortress Vader Part V - Feeling a chill

Perfecting Design

Although this issue is dark, it has a comedic touch. At the beginning of the issue, Momin and Vader find themselves in the fifth iteration of Vader’s fortress. Momin encourages Vader to open the door between dimensions. However, the native Mustafarians somehow fight back and prevent Vader from accomplishing this goal. Vader then murders Momin’s host for this failure. This repeats four more times. Momin has a new host for each attempt, including a lava flea. Eventually, they settle on the design of Vader’s fortress that appears in Rogue One. Both Vader and Momin believe they finally have the design right. Before Vader can open the portal, an army of Mustafarians mounted on lava fleas attack the fortress.


Even before the natives of Mustafar arrive, Momin encourages Vader to rest. Momin argues he should gather his power and prepare for the moment. Vader refuses and declares the moment is now. Then the attack comes. Vader commands that Momin do nothing in his absence. Once Vader moves to repel the invaders though, Momin contemplates the fortress and the portal. He notes its perfection. Then he betrays Vader and opens the portal himself. On the other side, he literally finds himself. His host then hands his helmet over to his other, and Momin declares, “I am my masterpiece.”

This turn of events raises questions. Did Momin in fact create a portal to another dimension? Did he bring himself back from the dead? Or, was he ever really dead to begin with? Keep in mind, in Darth Vader #22, Momin told the story of how the Jedi defeated him. Or did they? A careful study of that issue reveals his body was consumed by some sort of power when his attempts to unleash pain and horror through the dark side failed in the presence of the light. Perhaps the dark side of the Force claimed him. Keep in mind, Momin then stated, “The dark side asks for more than mere death in tribute.”

What does this say of his mask? Did the mask really capture his life force? Or, perhaps it was acting as a transmitter for Momin from the other dimension? In addition, what is the truth of his powers with the mask? He claims in Darth Vader #23 – Fortress Vader Part V that he is “but the mask” and “the Force is denied to [him].” Clearly, he is lying. He had power through his mask. He already influenced people to commit acts of murder that weren’t even wearing the mask. In addition, he takes over the body of anyone that wears it (except for Vader and maybe the Emperor so far). Finally, he was able to open the portal through the Force using the mask.

Regardless, Lord Momin is back.

Darth Vader #23 - Fortress Vader Part V - The Mustafarians attack on Lava Fleas

Final Thoughts on Darth Vader #23 – Fortress Vader Part V

Darth Vader #23 – Fortress Vader Part V continues Soule’s very compelling story of Vader’s time on Mustafar. This started as a mission for Vader to find Padmé. The fortress was the portal for her return. Events of Fortress Vader Part V suggest this was just a lie on Momin’s part. Although that power likely exists in the Star Wars galaxy, it seems doubtful it truly lies within Momin’s abilities. Darth Vader certainly won’t be pleased. He already threatened Momin about lying to him where the Force’s ability to bring back the dead is concerned. Momin compounded that mistake with betrayal.

Also, this series is a prequel of sorts to Soule’s Lando miniseries. Momin’s mask appears there. None of the characters ever actually wear it though. Still, it corrupts many of Lando’s associates and inspires very dark and disturbing behavior. There are two issues left in volume two of Darth Vader and “Fortress Vader.” Soule has set up a dramatic finale.

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