The next little mini-story for the Darth Vader comics is once again an important bit of storytelling, though this time rather than reaching back to the prequels to shed a little bit of light on why Vader was beginning to soften, “Into The Fire” reaches forwards into the sequels and sheds some light of why Vader was so convinced it was too late for him to overcome the Emperor. The actual TPB is issues 6 – 11 but I’ll include 12, as while it’s advertised as a “War of the Bounty Hunters prelude” it’s really 90% an “Into the Fire” epilogue…
Darth Vader failed to turn his son, Luke Skywalker, to the dark side of the Force so Vader sought revenge against those who hid Luke from him for all of these years… and in doing so nearly betrayed his master. It did not go unnoticed by Palpatine and now it’s time for Vader’s next lesson…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Awww, it’s like when people restage their wedding!
As the synopsis states the story starts with Emperor Palpatine rather cross with his apprentice and in fact he soon zaps him with some Force Lightning, chops off three of his limbs and leaves him burning in the exact spot he was burning minus three limbs the first time Palpatine found him at the end of Episode III. The Emperor claims that only by fully returning to the Dark Side can Vader survive and attempt to attack him, like he knew he wished. To add a bit of extra spice he also sends Ochi of Bestoon, an assassin obsessed with Sith lore, to Mustafar, promising that if he killed Vader he can take his place by his side…
Vader uses the Force to construct new limbs from nearby scrap, fend of Ochi and his hired mercenaries and enter a cave where he meets the Eye of Webbish Bog, the weird giant-head with spider limbs thing that was designed for Episode IX’s original script but never used. It gives Vader a Sith wayfinder to Exegol, leading to Vader bursting out of the cave, fighting off more mercs and capturing Ochi as he rebuilds a ship to leave. As he forces his new captured foe to put in the coordinates they run into the path of a gigantic tentacled monstrosity that’s powerful in the Darkside of the Force but Vader manages to overcome it and even pacify it, soon literally riding on its back and sending it to attack the Emperor on Exegol.
Look at all those missed shots, who are those guys, Stormtroopers?
Palpatine easily destroys the creature however, and soon Vader walks around Exegol, fights off some Sith followers and then bears witness to all Palpatine has built, the secret Sith armada, the cloning vats, the whole lot and finally agrees that the Emperor is far too powerful for him to overcome. He then gets patched up with a fresh coat of paint (and limbs…), The Emperor happy his apprentice is now once again afraid to act against him. He is soon sent on his next mission involving the frozen-in-carbonite body of Han Solo going missing…
It was a fun story, and did a least a little bit to try and make Episode IX’s Exegol reveal make a little bit more sense… a little bit. Plus the artwork was consistantly great, a really solid run there.
I really do wonder what the “Eye of the Webbish Bog” would’ve looked like in live action… Oh well.
Not much! I’m not entirely sure why Vader ended up keeping Ochi alive, and frankly any direct reference to the hidden Exegol fleet just brings back memories of the annoying Episode IX reveal, but hey-ho. I appreciate the attempt to cover it up a bit!
Everyone loves the Emperor’s Royal Guards, especially when they actually, well, do something.
Into the Fire continues the strong run of Darth Vader comics, this time connecting to the sequel trilogy in an interesting and meaningful way while also adding a bit more context into Vader’s head when you watch Return of the Jedi. Another “Must Read” for Star Wars fans!