Hey everyone and welcome to The Sarlacc Pit! This week is pretty exciting because I will be doing my first update post! Two of my early posts (“Darth Vader: Strong in the Shady Side” and “A Bruised Empire”) focused on the events of Marvel’s Star Wars: Darth Vader series (issues 1-15). The series recently ended, so I think now is a good time to fill in everyone about the state of affairs in the Empire at the end of these events. This will have major spoilers for the Darth Vader series, so read at your own risk!
So, in the issues leading up to this post, Darth Vader had begun to gather his own resources including credits, soldiers, and information. He had learned that Luke Skywalker was his son and had taken steps to find him and take him under his wing (without informing the Emperor, of course).
While Vader was working toward the goal of bringing his son to the dark side and eventually overthrowing the Emperor, the Emperor, displeased with Vader’s failure at the Battle of Yavin, brought in a brilliant scientist by the name of Dr. Cylo to bring forward potential replacements for Darth Vader.
Although Vader’s initial attempt to bring Luke to the dark side, he was able to kill General Karbin, an enhanced Mon Calamari who had been put forward by Dr. Cylo as one of Dath Vader’s potential replacements. This left only Dr. Tulon Voidgazer and the Astarte twins as possible Vader replacements.
The Shu-Torun War and Cylo’s Betrayal
Following the events of Vader Down (in which Vader attempted to capture Luke Skywalker and ended up killing General Karbin, as well as losing Dr. Aphra to the Rebels), the mining barons of Shu-Torun rebelled against the Empire and their own monarch (who had been put in place by Vader himself). The mining barons, placed under heavy stress by unreasonable Imperial quotas, attempted to free themselves from the Empire. Vader, along with Dr. Cylo, Dr. Voidgazer, and the Astarte twins (as well as a large number of Imperial soldiers) arrived on the planet and began to quell the Rebellion in the only way the Empire knew how: brutally.
During the final battle, Cylo, in an attempt to have Vader killed (thus ensuring one of his own people became the Emperor’s right-hand man), made a deal with the rebellious Shu-Torun ore barons in which he would arrange for Vader to be surrounded by rebellious troops away from the main battle. However, Cylo underestimated Vader, who was able to escape the siege along with the Astarte twins with assistance from 0-0-0, BT-1, and his private army of battle droids.
On their way from the failed siege to the main battle, the Astarte twins turned on Vader. On a land bridge over a river of lava the two cybernetically-enhanced lightsaber-wielders attacked the Dark Lord of the Sith. Vader, not about to be brought down twice by lava, defeated them easily. Sensing their defeat, Morit turned on his sister Aiolin, shoving her into the river of lava and making his escape.
Once Vader returned to the battle, the rebellious ore barons were defeated and Shu-Torun was back under the Empire’s thumb. Though Cylo, Voidgazer, and Morit Astarte were in the wind.
The Hijacking of the Executor and Cylo’s Defeat
One of the projects emphasized after the destruction of the Death Star was the construction of a Super Star Destroyer, the Executor, which would be used as Grand Admiral Tagge’s flagship once completed. Darth Vader caught up to Dr. Cylo and his replacements on their fleet of weird whale/spaceship things as they were traveling toward the location of the construction of the ship. Their plan was to take the ship as their own, establishing themselves as a power that could rival the Empire.
Darth Vader, upon reaching the whale/spaceship creature/vehicle, found himself confronted by Dr. Voidgazer herself. She first attempted to kill Vader using a rancor with enhancements that theoretically would have made it invulnerable to Vader’s normal attacks (lightsaber-proof skin, Force choke-proof esophagus), but Vader was able to overcome it by javelin-throwing his lightsaber through the beast’s mouth and into its brain.
Vader then used the Force to point Voidgazer’s own drones against her, killing her. However, she had one more trick up her sleeve. Turns out that Voidgazer had been assigned to work on the construction of the Executor installing enhanced equipment, however she also hacked the system, making it accessible only by Cylo and his men. With her last trump card played she flew the spacewhaleship into the side of the Executor in an effort to kill Vader.
That did not work. Vader, taking advantage of his pressurized life suit, strode across the exterior of the Executor towards the location of Dr. Cylo, where he was met by Morit Astarte, Cylo’s last hopeful replacement. Morit talked some mad trash, and the two engaged in lightsaber combat. Vader continued to push Morit back until he was standing on a metal beam protruding from the ship’s exterior. Vader then reached out with the Force and pushed the beam, with Morit still magnetically attached to it, into the gravitational pull of a nearby planet, killing his last rival.
All that was left was Cylo himself. Upon confronting the scientist in the Executor, Cylo revealed that he was one of the main scientists who was responsible for saving Vader’s life after his near-fatal duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Cylo then pulled out a remote control and shutdown Vader’s suit, buying him enough time to leave the Executor and escape on another one of his starwhales.
After some very emotional flashbacks and soul-searching on Vader’s part, the Dark Lord used the Force to regain control of his suit, hopped into his starfighter and chased down the Rodian-eyed scientist. Once Vader was aboard the ship/aquatic mammal, Cylo activated cloning pods that held other versions of himself, ordering them to take down Vader. Darth Vader, not one to pass up a chance to kill one person several times, killed all the clones, then used the Force to convince the whaleship to fly into the closest sun, putting and end to Dr. Cylo. Brutal.
While all these shenanigans were going on, Darth Vader had put out a bounty on Dr. Aphra, who had gone missing. Eventually, Inspector Thanoth, a cunning Imperial agent assigned to investigate the robbery that Darth Vader had committed, ended up figuring out about all of Vader’s dealings. Thanoth approached Vader and told him Aphra’s location, and was rewarded with a red lightsaber through the chest.
Vader used 0-0-0, BT-1, and Wookie bounty hunter Black Krrsantan to bring Aphra to the Executor. Aphra, clever as she is and looking for a way to escape certain death, finagled her way into a meeting with the Emperor, telling him about all of Vader’s shady dealings (but leaving out the information about Luke Skywalker). Aphra believed the the Emperor would punish Vader, and perhaps save Aphra. Skeevy Sheev, always a fan of sketchy dealings, and not a fan of snitches, rewarded Vader instead, claiming that Vader’s backhanded plotting followed the Sith way and that he was proud of his little backstabber. Vader, also not a fan of snitches, shoved Aphra out of an airlock (she survived though, and will soon be the star of the next ongoing Marvel comic: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra).
Finally, we come to Grand Admiral Tagge, who this entire time had been a real jerk towards Vader and was ultimately responsible for Cylo being so involved in the affairs of the Imperial fleet. He was stripped of his title and the Emperor gave Vader command of the Executor. What did Vader do to Tagge? Surprise! He Force choked him to death, replacing him with Admiral Ozzel.
So in the end, we are left with a question: how do the events of Star Wars: Darth Vader impact larger canon? First of all, we learn how Darth Vader knows who Luke Skywalker is before the Emperor does (which is shown by Vader referring to Luke by name before the Emperor tells Vader who he is). Second, it explains why we never see Tagge again (Vader Force choked him and replaced him with Ozzel). Third, and most importantly, it shows the origins of the rift between Vader and the Emperor. While the comic ends with the Emperor seemingly proud of his apprentice, Vader, however, is still pretty mad about the whole “you told me my wife and unborn kid were dead, but turns out I have a son out there” thing. So, as is the case with most extended canon, while the content shown in Marvel’s Star Wars: Darth Vader series is not necessary to know in order to understand the movies, it gives a more fleshed-out feel to the movies, filling in the gaps of time and information left between movies.
So that’s it for this week. Next week I will be discussing one of the most feared men in the Empire, and one of the most despised men in the galaxy: Wilhuff Tarkin. Next week will use a lot of content from my one of my favorite Star Wars novels, Star Wars: Tarkin, as well as content from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” “Star Wars: Rebels,” and, of course, “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you!