In Star Wars, the Galactic Empire has been known for ruling with an iron fist and lacking empathy, this also extended to the leadership as well. Emperor Palpatine is cunning, manipulative, and ruthless, even among those closest to him.
On my journey through reading all Star Wars canon, I stumbled on the 2015 comic line titled Darth Vader. This takes place immediately after the events of Star Wars Episode: IV A New Hope as Vader is still coming into his own. Written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Salvador Larroca, this comic line gives us a deep dive into the time period when Darth Vader was a disappointment as the Emperor.
The Emperor blames Darth Vader for the loss of the Death Star, leading to him being babysat by an Imperial Officer. However, Vader, in sticking with the rule of 2, seeks to overthrow the Emperor and take power for himself, turning on his Master. He eventually meets up with Black Krrsantan and Boba Fett to hunt down Jedi and create a plot to kill the Emperor.
While the movies portray Darth Vader as always having a good relationship with his Master, that wasn’t always the case. Before Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker was a very loyal friend, and everyone noticed he valued loyalty over servitude and friendship over power. However, his ultimate loyalty was to Padme.
Anakin gave up all he knew for his wife. However, in doing so, he turned to the dark side because of his fear of losing those he loved. Anakin chose loyalty over his friends, and he paid the price for it. This comic line fleshes out what he is thinking and how he knows he could overthrow the Emperor and take full control of the Empire.
Anakin turned to the dark side due to the lack of interest. In Anakin’s view, the Jedi corrupted Padme against him, forcing him to turn due to his loyalty to the person, not the idea. Even in The Clone Wars, Obi-Wan acknowledges that Anakin is self-serving and loyal to those who are loyal to him. This is why the Emperor was able to manipulate him so easily and why the Anakin Skywalker in The Clone Wars and the Darth Vader at the end of Rogue One are so different.
Anakin also sees the fall of the Jedi as a good thing because he wrestles with his view of the Jedi Order being a force for good, something not unique to Anakin as a character. Even Han Solo questions the Jedi as an ancient religion and whether Obi-Wan blindly follows orders even if he disagrees with them. At that point, what makes them better than droids? If the Jedi value compassion, calmness, and peace, why are they so quick to wage war on other planets that don’t conform to their ideas? Anakin sees this as a catch-22: he’s being told to follow orders as a good soldier but at the cost of his own personal freedom and development. In the Emperor he sees himself as an equal and treated as an adult as compared to the Jedi order.
This leads to Vader finding his old lightsaber in the hands of a new rebel fighter, who is eventually found out to be his son, Luke Skywalker. This enrages him even more because even from the grave, Obi-Wan is still beating him, leading to Luke pushing away his selfish wants and desires to preserve life rather than take it.
Anakin sees the Empire as a way to get Padme back, and that’s all that matters. Now, Darth Vader sees the Empire as a tool to kill those who weren’t loyal to him and those he sees as taking the one person he cared about most in the world.
If you get a chance, Darth Vader (2015) is on Marvel Unlimited, or you can buy it from your local comic store.