The Hints of Light Already Within Darth Vader
sequences of what would best be described as Dark Side Meditation. Where meditation previously seen in the case of Jedi was focused on attempting to achieve oneness and peace, Vader's meditation is the exact opposite. In artwork exquisitely realized by artist Giuseppe Camuncolo, Inker Daniele Orlandini, and Colorist David Curiel, Vader is depicted as a being of roiling blackness, suspended over a chruning, blood red sea. The only parts of his body not consumed by the darkness are his artifical limbs. But as lightning strikes around him, the number of white, glowing, fluttering creatures increases. Presumably, small segments of light still flowing through and towards Vader as he convenes with The Force (the Dark Side, obviously).
Frankly, these sequences alone are part of the Darth Vader comic's greatest gift to the character of Anakin Skywalker. As strong as the villain may be in the original Star Wars trilogy, and as much as fans may come to appreciate the Anakin seen in the prequels, the Clone Wars series, and elsewhere, the challenge has always been connecting them to one another. Whether or not you find Anakin's 'tragic hero' story satisfying, he is ruled by his emotions and is therefore an ideal victim of Palpatine's (just like Darth Maul before him).
Darth Vader, on the other hand, spends most of his time... brooding. Even when he is violent and impassioned, the calm, cool discipline of the Dark Side is what makes him so terrifying. And as the Darth Maul comic shows, Anakin Skywalker never 'became' anything or anyone else with the flip of a switch. It was a struggle from the very start - a struggle that should have defined his character on film, but never got the chance.
Issue #12 sees Vader lash out in violence at the fluttering bits of the Light Side in his meditation, which could seem like dedication to the Dark Side (temptation is natural, after all). But as the comic shifts to Vader meditating in his Coruscant chamber, this assault on the Light Side's pull has cracked the massive window before him. The message is clear: Darth Vader is not at peace, or as disciplined in his dedication to the Dark Side as fans may be led to think. In the process, the scene, like the series, makes Darth Vader a far richer character than the films have shown him to be.
There may be fans satisfied with the darker, more ominous appearances of Darth Vader in the Star Wars movie universe to date. For them, the idea of more Darth Vader cameos in spinoff films may be an added bonus, and nothing else. But those reading the comic series can enjoy new moments, like watching as Vader crosses blades with Jedi who knew the man he was, as he painstakingly constructs his red lightsaber, puts his engineering brilliance to work in fine-tuning his armor and artificial limbs, and shrewdly weeding out the conspiracy building against him without the Emperor's protection.
Moments that, once seen, paint a far more compelling picture of Luke Skywalker's father than the internally raging slave boy, or the chilling enforcer of the Empire. The Darth Vader series pulls back the curtain on Darth Vader's terror, and shows his ultimate betrayal of the Emperor was the product of years of doubt, since Anakin Skywalker adopted a new mission, without ceasing to exist.
If that doesn't sound like a Darth Vader story made for the movies, we don't know what does.
Darth Vader #12 is currently available from Marvel or at your local comic shop.