I really liked Marvel’s previous Darth Vader series from writer Kieron Gillen. That seemed unlikely at first glance. Vader is, for the most part, a villain. He doesn’t speak much. And the series was set between movies. How much could Gillen possibly hope to get done with those limitations? The answer was a surprising lot, but his series ended and Marvel started a new one.
This new series came from writer Charles Soule. He’s pretty good too. The first volume is now in trade form and goes by the subtitle Imperial Machine.
The new series starts after the events of Revenge of the Sith, meaning Vader is new to his armored body and has a lot to get used to. It also means there’s a lot more time for Soule to play with given his version of the character is brand new in many respects. This Vader is filled with doubts about what he’s done, even contemplating turning on the Emperor and maybe surrendering to Obi-Wan somewhere. He obviously isn’t going to be doing that, but the Empire is new and so is much of his body. If he was silent and angry in the previous series, he is silent and depressed here, but depressed in a way showing he has no problem taking out what’s happened to him on anyone and everyone no matter who those people are. He wants to test himself, and fortunately, the Emperor gave him a mission to do with.
See, the Sith can’t just make a lightsaber the way the Jedi can. They need to get the parts for it in a very Sith way, and it involves finding and stealing one from a living Jedi for starters. That can be difficult when Order 66 wiped out most of them, and what few remain went into hiding. As such, if Vader wants to have the blood red lightsaber of the Sith, he needs to prove himself worthy of the Sith first. It won’t be an easy task, but he seems to be fine with that.
Soule here is working with a young Vader, one who isn’t as skilled or as deadly as the one we’re used to. He’s no pushover, able to plow through most ordinary people without too much trouble, but it’s clear that a strong Jedi could be more than a match for him. As the Emperor pushes the importance of pain for a Sith, this is a Vader who will be punishing himself and then punishing others. If this Vader is going to hurt, then so is everybody else around him. Soule’s work isn’t quite as good as Gillen’s on the character, but it’s not a bad start. 8 out of 10 clones with names.