Warning: SPOILERS for Star Wars: Darth Vader #6 ahead.
To this day, the Star Wars prequels remain a divisive topic among fans. Some appreciate the films’ contribution to galactic history and development of classic characters, while others find them poorly vetted and feel they tarnished the reputation of Darth Vader among others. No matter which side of the debate you fall on, Episodes I-III both introduced a number of key canonical elements, detailing the rise of the Empire and the fall of the Jedi.
Aside from his machinations to control the galaxy, Darth Sidious’s most ruthless plot was Order 66. During the cloning process, he secretly encoded the Republic’s troopers with an invasive program. When activated, it caused them to turn on their Jedi comrades. Palpatine’s tactic proved extremely effective, devastating to the Jedi Order. Along with Anakin Skywalker’s own betrayal, the Sith managed to wipe most of their enemies from the map.
However, thanks to the will of the Force, not every light sider died during the massacre. Some, like Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, were strong enough to sense a disturbance and kill or evade their attackers. Others, like Master Kirak Infil’a, introduced in Darth Vader #2, were off-the-radar while still others shook off their affiliation or begged and bartered their way to freedom. Darth Vader #6 reveals that another notable member of the Order survived the slaughter.
The Jedi Purge Escalates
Kieron Gillen’s well-loved 2015 series delved into a post-A New Hope Darth Vader, one who tasted defeat at the Battle of Yavin and was desperate to get back in the good graces of his master. On the other hand, Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli are focused on Vader’s transition from a powerful, arrogant if insecure Jedi Knight into a shaky but deadly Sith warrior. The story arc thus far has walked with him as he learns more about the secretive order and accepts his choices, embracing the volatile emotions and extremes of the dark side.
The first five issues explored how a Sith lord earns his red lightsabers: by killing a Jedi and “bleeding” their blade's kyber crystal, bending them to their twisted will. Soule also generated some intriguing new Jedi mythology, the tradition of Barash – a self-imposed exile that could explain Luke Skywalker’s galactic disconnect during The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. While Master Infil’a escaped the Emperor’s wrath, he could not escape Vader. The neophyte dark lord tracks him down via an information archive on a remote Jedi outpost, killing him and stealing his blade.
Vader then bleeds the green lightsaber red, returning home in shambles. However, he only gets a quick soak in the bacta tank and a snap self-repair job for his armor before the Emperor gives him a new task: confront an intruder in the Imperial-controlled Jedi Temple. To his surprise, he faces off against another dark side adept, against the Grand Inquisitor. After defeating the former Jedi Knight, Vader is also charged with training the Inquisitorius for the Palpatine and his urgent mission… destroying the powerful and disruptive remnants of the Jedi Order.
The issue also reveals a surprising figure from the prequels has survived the purge.
The Archivist Survives to Preserve
First introduced in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Jocasta Nu is a Master charged with curating the Jedi Order’s extensive archives. Before serving as chief librarian, she was an active Jedi Knight (and still wears her lightsaber), trained Padawans, and served on the Jedi Council for a time. In the film, she helps Obi-Wan search for Kamino but is unable to find it, leading to her claim the planet doesn’t exist because it isn't in the archives (it was removed by the Supreme Chancellor's office). Although her arrogance paints herself and the galactic peacekeepers in a negative light, it does speak to a key flaw of the Jedi during the waning days of the Republic. Their hubris led to complacency, which allowed the Sith to rise under their noses.
At the same time, Attack never properly characterized Nu. Fortunately, the animated Clone Wars series further fleshed out her character. At one point, Anakin Skywalker’s padawan Ahsoka Tano is assigned to guard the archives as a punishment for disobeying orders. Nu remains a stern, matronly figure, but she also receives a softer side, helping Ahsoka to the best of her ability and tracking down bounty hunters that broke into the archives to steal a holocron (a portable database for Jedi knowledge).
At this point, though, Soule hasn’t explained how she managed to escape Vader and the 501st Clone Division’s massacre at the temple. It’s possible she was off-world at the time or that she, like Yoda, felt a disturbance and acted accordingly. In Marvel’s spring preview, she continues her pre-Order 66 mission, gathering knowledge and keeping the torch lit during the Jedi's darkest hour. Naturally, her actions have attracted some very undesired attention.
Adding an iconic figure from the prequels speaks to both Soule and Lucasfilm’s interest in smoothing out the prequel trilogy's “wrinkles.” The writer already tweaked Vader’s infamous “Noooo!” sequence from Revenge of the Sith. Now, he’s revealed that archivist Jocasta Nu – initially thought to have perished in Revenge (and even killed in the film’s non-canon companion game) – not only survived the ordeal but is trying to preserve the Jedi Order.
With the Emperor personally aware of her presence, though, her curation efforts might be short-lived. The spring preview teases a confrontation between her and Vader, along with his newest charge, the Grand Inquisitor, which will plausibly test her rusty combat skills and her honed Force abilities.
Star Wars: Darth Vader #6 is currently available.
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