Published May 4, 2017

Darth Vader Returns

Charles Soule gets set to revisit the dark lord of the Sith!

Image for Darth Vader Returns

One of the most iconic villains of all time gets his second, epic ongoing comic at Marvel, this time from writer Charles Soule and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli. In DARTH VADERissue #1 out June 7—things pick up right after the last shot of “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” The Jedi are no more and Lord Vader finds himself lightsaber-less. What comes next? A deep dive into the Dark Side, the fledgling Galactic Empire, and a man who must now hide his humanity away from the terrible pain of reality.

Soule fills you in on the hottest Star Wars event to hit shelves since the twin suns of Tatooine came into existence or that time the lava of Mustafar burned Anakin to a crisp…

Too soon? So how did you feel when you found out you’d be writing a comic series for not only the most iconic villain in the Star Wars universe, but one of the most iconic villains in pop culture in general?

Charles Soule: You really can’t put something like that into words, and yet it’s a sensation I’ve felt a number of times while working for Marvel; not just on the Star Wars books, but on all their icons in general. Vader, though…it’s pretty special. He’s loomed large in my imagination since I was a little kid, which is something I share with people all over the world. So, getting to tell a big story about him, especially with the iconic elements I’ll be adding to his mythology—it’s still kind of hard to believe. I’m lucky. What were some of the preparations/challenges needed in writing for this particular Star Wars character that weren’t involved for, say, Poe, Obi-Wan, or Lando?

Charles Soule: I had to think quite a bit about what it would mean to write a character who has no heroic qualities whatsoever. Vader isn’t an antihero; he’s an evil character who does evil things and feels no remorse. So, I had to adjust my instincts a bit; virtually every other character I write, even the “scoundrels,” have heroic elements. Vader has none. Every time I wanted to maybe lighten things up for him a bit I just decided to do the opposite. It’s been working fairly well so far. This series takes place immediately after the events of “Revenge of the Sith”. Did you have “Episode III” playing on repeat in the planning stages of this comic?

Charles Soule: “Episode III” is probably my favorite of the prequels; there’s a lot to love about it, as far as I’m concerned. So, I’d already watched it a number of times, but I did watch it again prior to getting started. I also read a number of the tie-in novels that feature Vader, re-read Kieron Gillen’s wonderful series, and watched “Rogue One” a few times as well. Lots of “homework,” if you can call something so enjoyable anything like work. Did you hear James Earl Jones’s voice in your head during the writing process? If so, what was he saying?

Charles Soule: I absolutely do hear Vader’s voice as I write the series, although Vader doesn’t talk very much, which is by design. He’s deep in his own head here, and unless there’s a reason to talk, he doesn’t. I also hear Palpatine’s voice pretty clearly when I write his scenes, and often read his dialogue aloud in my approximation of Ian McDiarmid’s wonderful performance—always a good time.

Darth Vader #1 cover by Jim Cheung That shot of Vader screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” near the end gets a lot of flack online, but I always found it a really powerful moment about the realization of immense personal loss—the real death of Padme and the alleged death of his progeny—especially with John Williams’ musical accompaniment. Can you talk a little bit about how that theme will play into his motivations in this series?

Charles Soule: That moment is where this series begins, and you’re right: Vader has lost everything. His mentor, the Jedi Order, the love of his life, his physical body, even his lightsaber. That “NOOOO!” moment is him realizing that, and then he immediately locks himself down. He gave himself that one moment to consider what he’d lost, but then he’ll never think about it again—or that’s his plan, anyway. In other words, he decides to become a machine-like killer in that moment, almost as a defense mechanism. Vader needs to dive as deeply as he can into darkness, because being in the light would let him see his own monstrous deeds a bit too clearly. Who will he turn to in these troubling times to assuage his grief and anger?

Charles Soule: No one. Vader is alone. This is obviously a much fresher Vader who isn’t as seasoned as we see him in the original trilogy. What’s going through this newly-created Sith Lord’s helmeted head? How does his mindset here differ from the one we recently saw in Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca’s run on the character between “A New Hope” and “Empire”? Is he a little more naive?

Charles Soule: I wouldn’t say naïve, but he definitely has some work to do before he builds up to really being able to use his new suit and dark side skills to the degree we see in “Rogue One” or “Rebels,” for example. That said, he’s still one of the most powerful Force-users in the galaxy, so he’s pretty amazing at what he does, even at the start. In the first arc we’ll see the origin of Vader’s infamous red lightsaber, which we all saw in that epic final scene in “Rogue One.” How did you decide for this to be the first storyline of this series?

Charles Soule: It was right there waiting to be picked up, honestly. We know that Obi-Wan Kenobi took Anakin’s blue saber at the end of “Episode III,” which means Vader doesn’t have his primary weapon as we start this series. I didn’t want to write a Vader book where he doesn’t have a lightsaber, so I thought that was a problem to be remedied—and fortunately Lucasfilm agreed that it was the way to go! What teasers can you provide about this lightsaber plot line and lightsaber lore overall? Will we be taking a field trip to the kyber crystal mines on Jedha?

Charles Soule: We won’t see Jedha, but we may see some other iconic locations from the Star Wars mythos. Turns out there’s a whole process for getting a red lightsaber, and it involves some significant trials for Lord Vader; it’s a great place to start the series, I think. What thing are you most looking forward to elucidating with this comic that Vader fans may not have considered before?

Charles Soule: This may sound counter-intuitive because it’s not strictly about Vader, but I’m interested and excited to show Palpatine’s young Empire. It’s really just been established as of “Episode III,” so there’s a lot of iconography and infrastructure that needs to be put in place. Should be fun to tell some stories based around that idea.

Join Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli for an all-new DARTH VADER #1 on June 7!