Into The Fire – Part VI: Exegol
EXEGOL UNLEASHED! As punishment for his rebellion, DARTH VADER was broken by THE EMPEROR, his limbs shattered, forbidden to use THE FORCE. But after surviving OCHI OF BESTOON, THE EYE OF WEBBISH BOGG and the horrors of THE RED NEBULA, Vader stands on the verge of uncovering the Emperor’s greatest secrets. But will the revelations on EXEGOL empower Vader – or his master? And what new doom awaits LUKE SKYWALKER as a result?Marvel.com official solicitation
Lucasfilm film continue to fill in the gaps and make sense of ‘The Rise Of Skywalker’ through the ‘Darth Vader’ comic. Whether this is all from the mind of Grag Pak or he is working from production notes we will probably never know but Pak is doing a coherent job of stitching everything together as well as adding some more wrinkles to the story.
Darth Vader has fought his way past Ochi of Bestoon and the Eye of the Webbish Bogg and discovered that Emperor Palpatine has secret plans on the planet of Exegol. He is now marching on the Sith temple seen in ‘The Rise Of Skywalker’ riding on a massive space squid. The cackling Emperor is standing in his way, unthreatened by Vader’s display of power, and unleashes space lobsters in response. The lobsters are easily defeated but Palpatine then uses the power of the dark side to force the squid to explode itself.
Vader stumbles into the Sith temple and sees the Sith cloning vats full of potential Snokes while the Emperor preaches about fear, pain, and the “Scalpel of Creation”. He claims to have made everything that Vader sees and that he can make anything. As he says this we see a panel of what looks like Luke’s hand in a jar. The idea of seeing Luke’s hand again has been floating around since an unused opening for ‘The Force Awakens’ but now it looks like it might be in play. This could lead to more ‘Legends’ ideas being brought back into canon as in Timothy Zahn’s original Thrawn trilogy the hand was used to create the clone Luuke Skywalker (no, that’s not a typo). Thrawn is already back and we have seen this style of cloning machines in ‘The Mandalorian’ so anything is possible.
The Emperor then unleashes a group of clone warriors on Vader, possibly prototypes for Snoke’s praetorian guards, but these are easily taken care of. It’s then the turn of the Sith cultists to take a beating. As there can only be two they all want a shot at the apprentice but, unfortunately for them, you can’t take out a Sith Lord with a dagger. Vader uses the force to take control of their daggers and turns them back on them taking them all out in one go.
Vader continues on his way to confront Palpatine as Ochi reappears to try and talk him out of it. The Emperor, still in Vader’s ear, is taunting him that something is suffer and in pain and then Vader finds Exegol’s big secret. The Sith fleet seen in ‘The Rise Of Skywalker’ is already under construction. This puts a stop to complaints about the fleets appearance in the film as it didn’t just suddenly appear, it had been in the works for decades. Vader then finds where the pain and suffering is coming from. The cultists are carving up the biggest kyber crystal you have ever seen. It has been bled to turn it red and is being used to power the fleet’s planet killing cannons. This is the source of the Emperor’s unlimited power and he says the only way Vader can share the power is to be by his side.
Under the influence of the power coming from the kyber crystal Vader has a vision that is the reverse of his showdown with Luke at the end of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. Luke is reaching out to him telling him it is his destiny to destroy the Emporer. The Emperor’s voice then breaks through asking Vader if he has chosen. This leads to the last page where Vader says “Y-yes… … …My master’ and falls instep behind Palpatine. This is ambiguous as it could mean a few things. Vader might just be chasing the unlimited power, it could be that the light side has reached him through the kyber crystal to show him his destiny, but it could also be Vader just returning to his role as apprentice and waiting for his moment to strike.
With this arc Greg Pak has told an effective story from the crumbs he was given in ‘The Rise Of Skywalker’ and linked it to the original trilogy in a way that makes sense. He builds on the Palpatine/Vader dynamic and adds to the story and without contradicting anything we have seen on screen. Now we wait to see if Luuke can be made to work in modern canon.