It's one thing for Star Wars to make comic books or novels official canon, but the teaser poster for Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace? Believe it, fans, because Darth Vader's comic just revealed that the prequels' best movie poster actually happened in the Star Wars timeline.
For modern day fans of Star Wars who missed out on the release of The Phantom Menace, the posters used to advertise them - before fans knew what George Lucas was about to unleash - are the least discussed part of the controversy. But no matter how you may feel about the prequel trilogy, almost every fan can agree that Episode 1's teaser poster was, and remains brilliantly inspired.
Now, that unforgettable image of a young boy casting the shadow of his future (in Darth Vader's silhouette) has been added to the canonical story of Anakin Skywalker.
If there's another case where a movie poster has been folded back into the actual timeline and fiction of that franchise, we don't know of it. But as odd as it sounds, it is just the latest incredible addition to the Star Wars canon to come from Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli's Darth Vader comic series. A series that has concluded with Issue #25, as Darth Vader finally masters death to enter the Force. And in the process, retrace the steps of his life... beginning with his childhood on the planet Tatooine.
We had assumed that when the comic confirmed the fan theory that the Emperor basically 'created' Anakin Skywalker in his mother, the most notable moment of the issue had arrived. But as the lines of the Force blur the present day Anakin/Vader from the boy he once was, Vader reaches out to his younger self from inside of the Force... and into the very real past. The action is shown from young Ani's perspective: a tall, helmeted, and cloaked figure reaching out of his own shadow like some living nightmare.
Just then Anakin wakes up in his childhood bed, revealing that the image of Anakin and shadow Darth Vader wasn't just a vision of the future to movie audiences, but to Anakin, too. The scene of his mother putting him back to bed soon falls into place alongside the rest of Anakin's memories from childhood onward. Memories he continues to relive as his own Dark Side form grows from boy to man in time.
The story won't do much to change the facts of Darth Vader's story shown in the films, and the decision by the storytellers to incorporate the teaser poster, while evocative, is mainly for the fans to appreciate. From now on, fans will see that unforgettable movie poster and know that it isn't just 'meta' marketing materials, but the canonical dream of young Anakin Skywalker, seeing the face of the monster he would become (itself an echo of Darth Vader infiltrating the Force decades later).
The new wrinkle to the Star Wars canon also fits well with the biggest changes made by the Rebels series, and the 'world between worlds' that it established in its final episodes. Basically revealing that the Force doesn't just bind life together across space, but time as well, the idea that Vader became his younger self's nightmare makes perfect sense. Not only does it link Anakin and Vader across decades, but it also links the prequel films to the modern comics, animation, and more.
As if fans needed another reason to catch up on the Darth Vader comic, we're hoping this will convince those on the fence to finally take the plunge.
Darth Vader #25 is available now from Marvel Comics.