Published June 9, 2017

Darth Vader: Executing Order 66

The Sith Lord carries out his deadly mission under the pen of Charles Soule!

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Many Star Wars fans cite the instant in “Revenge of the Sith” when the clone armies turn on their Jedi comrades and mow them down as one of the most heart-breaking moments in the films. Thanks to the insidious Darth Sidious, the Jedi fell swiftly in order to give birth to his galactic empire. And that, in turn, gave us one of the greatest villains in all of pop culture: Darth Vader!

This week, Charles Soule joins up with all-star artist Guiseppe Camuncoli to bring readers to that moment in time with the new DARTH VADER series out now. But before you get your copy, read on and find out why fans find this new series to be…most impressive. Last we spoke, Charles, you mentioned your interest in Emperor Palpatine, most notably that while he may be complete evil, you didn’t find there to be a lack of complexity with him as a character. Can you explain that a little further?

Charles Soule: Palpatine has an uncomplicated goal—ultimate power!—but he goes about it in an extremely complex, subtle way. His greatest power is his ability to manipulate, and you can’t manipulate without—and this word will seem strange when describing Palpatine—empathy. You have to truly understand what makes a person tick in order to move them in the direction you want without them realizing it, and The Emperor is a master. Now, as you know from all of the stories that have emerged in the years since “Revenge of the Sith,” Order 66 didn’t exactly kill off all of the Jedi. Do you see it as a one-time initiative or more like a standing executive order?

Charles Soule: I think it was a hard-coded part of the Clone Troopers’ “operating instructions,” if that makes sense. That said, it’s certainly emblematic of the Empire’s policy towards Jedi, which is basically: kill ‘em all. Whether the few Jedi survivors end up going from a literal application of Order 66 or another way—such as a certain brand new Sith with a grudge—the end result is the same. Aside from his immense power, what else do you think positions Darth Vader to be so effective at hunting Jedi?

Charles Soule: Well, he was one, which means he knows their tactics, their weak spots, their training. He has a thorough understanding of the Jedi mindset; always useful when hunting them. I’m always finding myself struck at the difference between the two identities of Anakin Skywalker: the powerful Jedi Knight and the Sith Lord. Do you think Vader’s armored and robotic self makes him more deadly or less so? Maybe put another way: which version do you think a Jedi on the run would want to face?

Charles Soule: No one wants to face Darth Vader in any guise. If I had to choose, though, probably the armored suit would be scarier, because it has various abilities and enhancements that allow Vader to be even more terrifying than he already was. Vader’s suit can take enormous damage and keep on ticking; he’s basically a Terminator.

Darth Vader #3 cover by Olivier Coipel Just for fun, let’s say you were a young Jedi on the run from the Empire, targeted by Order 66. What methods would you employ to remain off the radar?

Charles Soule: I would never use the Force again, for one thing. But what’s the point, then? If you’re a Jedi, you are a living vessel for the Force. This might sound harsh, but I think most Jedi would rather die fighting than renounce the Force forever. Darth Vader clearly stands at the forefront of the Emperor’s arsenal to extinguish the Light Side; however, one does not become Emperor through betting on only one horse. What other resources does Palpatine have at his disposal to continue the hunt for the Jedi?

Charles Soule: Well, the massive Imperial military, for one thing; and I’m sure he’s put bounties out and all sorts of things. But his primary tool other than Vader is a group of skilled dark-side adepts called the Inquisitorius, which was introduced in the “Star Wars: Rebels” TV series. We’ll see them in the DARTH VADER comic as well—maybe even their beginnings! We come to understand that, unlike Anakin Skywalker, the clones didn’t really have a choice when Emperor Palpatine gave the command to execute Order 66. Once the effects of the programming chip cleared, how do you suppose the clones who served alongside their Jedi compatriots felt upon discovering the genocidal tragedy they helped enact?

Charles Soule: The “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” TV show did a great job of establishing that clones were somewhat individual emotionally and mentally despite their identical physiologies. So, I’d guess they had a wide variety of actions. Still, like many regular galactic citizens, they were told that the Jedi were traitors. Some probably believed that, some didn’t; I don’t think it was uniform. Ultimately, we know that Order 66 wasn’t entirely successful with Jedi such as Yoda, Obi-Wan, Kannan Jarus, and others having survived the culling. Despite the tragedy of it all, do you think there was any good that came of it? Can we find any silver lining in such wanton loss?

Charles Soule: That’s a hard no on that one. Order 66 was heartbreaking. Despite the flaws of the Jedi Order—and I think there are a bunch—it was ultimately a force for freedom, generosity and good, which was brought down by a force dedicated to selfishness and the accumulation of personal power. Just a darn shame, really.

You can get DARTH VADER #1 by Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli right now, and look for more Order 66 aftermath in issue #3 on July 12!