Published March 13, 2017

Darth Vader Rising

Charles Soule investigates the early years of the Star Wars legend!

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Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father, but Charles Soule will!

This June, the writer teams with artist Giuseppe Camuncoli to take the lead on Marvel’s new Star Wars series, DARTH VADER. With the news out and fan interest on the rise, we sat down with Soule to take an in-depth look at what readers will encounter in his and Camuncoli’s take on Palpatine’s last and greatest apprentice. Before digging into all things Sith, I have to ask: How do you get yourself mentally in the game to begin writing something in the world of Star Wars?

Charles Soule: At any given moment since I was about five years old, Star Wars has occupied a non-insignificant portion of my mental game as it is—so writing Star Wars stories is really just about ratcheting that up a little bit. I do like to watch the movies/shows relevant to the time period I’m exploring, and I’ve done my best to read all of the novels that have been released since the start of the new canon period; and of course the comics, which are all pretty darn fantastic. Does it ever worry you when you think about the fact you’re writing Star Wars canon? What sort of pressures does that create for you?

Charles Soule: I was nervous at first, when I got my first gig to write the LANDO [limited series]. You don’t want to screw things up, you know? But the truth is, Star Wars is broad and deep, and it was really about realizing that nothing I could do was going to break it. That’s especially true because of the great people at the Lucasfilm Story Group, whose job it is to make sure I can’t break Star Wars. Really, it’s just a blast, even the really high-canon things like [STAR WARS: POE DAMERON] or this new DARTH VADER series. It’s a privilege, not a burden. Charles, you’ve written OBI-WAN AND ANAKIN as well as POE DAMERON and LANDO. Now, you’ll be taking on the Dark Lord of the Sith himself in his second series, DARTH VADER, alongside Giuseppe Camuncoli this June. How did this opportunity come about? 

Charles Soule: They asked and I said yes! This time period, set immediately after Star Wars: Episode III, is very fertile ground for Star Wars, and it’s largely unexplored. Lucasfilm and Marvel wanted to do more with Darth Vader, especially after his prominent appearances in Rogue One and Rebels, and I’m just the lucky jerk who got the call. Why was placing your story in the context of that period just after Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith the best starting point for you?

Charles Soule: In any story, comics or otherwise, you want drama and conflict, and you want your protagonist to have a compelling goal or challenge to overcome. By setting the VADER series in this part of the timeline – when he’s just gotten into the armor after his defeat at Obi-Wan’s hands, we get all of that. Darth Vader has lost everything, including—basically—his body and face. He’s trying to discover, at a basic level, what he is. It’s a fantastic story to be able to tell: a terrifyingly powerful dark wizard with absolutely nothing left to lose, and a galaxy to subjugate. Doesn’t get much more epic than that. Given the starting point of the series, we’ll no doubt see a young Darth Vader seek to prove himself to his new master, Emperor Palpatine, as he hunts down any remaining Jedi still alive after Order 66. Is there any lingering doubt about his master’s trustworthiness or does Vader remain “all in” at this point?

Charles Soule: Vader’s all in. I mean, what else does he have, from a psychological perspective? Palpatine is all he’s got left to cling to; he offers him a role, a place, power. This is Darth Vader at a very low point, really. All he wants is what Palpatine will give him: the excuse to immerse himself in rage and pain. Why question it? One area that often goes unexplored is the relationship between Vader and Sidious: Will we see the type of training Vader experiences under the tutelage of his master?

Charles Soule: Some; there are things Vader hasn’t yet had time to learn about Sith mythology and techniques. Really, though, Darth Vader is already a Dark Lord of the Sith. He knows everything he needs to know, and he’s got incredibly high-level skills. That’s part of why Palpatine took him as his apprentice in the first place. There’s a reason he’s called “Lord Vader” in Episode III, though. He might need to get used to the suit, but he’s pretty fully formed here. Looking at his mission—to seek and destroy the remaining Jedi—are there any well-known Jedi knights or masters left that we might encounter?

Charles Soule: Maybe! But if so, there’s no way I would spoil that here! Naturally, one needs the right tools to kill a Jedi, namely, a lightsaber. The journey to construct a lightsaber was often one of the final stages for a youngling before they would be graduated to the rank of padawan. How then does Vader go about completing this journey on his path to becoming a Sith lord?

Charles Soule: This is the first arc, and it’s a doozy. Like—as far as we can tell—almost everything about being a Sith, it’s about anger and pain. It’s exciting, though; it’s not easy for Vader to accomplish his goal here, not by a long shot. If you look at the fighting style of Anakin in Revenge of the Sith and then compare it to his new form as Darth Vader, there are some clear differences no doubt resulting from the addition of the heavy, robotic armor. What other adjustments to his life as a man and warrior do you explore?

Charles Soule: I would say that the first arc—and to a degree further into the series—is about Vader taking ownership of his new identity. He’s Vader physically, and mostly psychologically as well, but we might get some fine-tuning happening here. I don’t want to dwell too much on angst, though. Other than the first page of the series, for example, we won’t have any “thought captions” for him. Everything we learn about Vader comes from what he does, and to a lesser extent, what he says; although he doesn’t talk much either. I’m writing him something like Jason in “Friday the 13th”: just an unstoppable force, the last thing you ever want to see—and if you do, it’s most likely the last thing you’ll ever see. One thing that struck me about the current Star Wars: Rebels television series is how established the Inquisitor program was and how closely it seemed to resemble a sort of apprentice breeding ground. Is this something you’ll be exploring in your series, and if so, what role will Darth Vader play in its development?

Charles Soule: Yes…but I don’t want to say much more than that at this point. The Inquisitors are definitely part of the book, and we’ll learn much more about the entire Inqusitorius program and how Vader fits into it—in time. Final question! Although the setting will be different from the previous DARTH VADER series, what else do you think separates this particular story about Darth Vader from those which preceded it?

Charles Soule: I’m writing it! Giuseppe Camuncoli is drawing it—and doing an incredible job, by the way! Beyond that, we’ll let the readers decide.

DARTH VADER dives into the early years of the Sith Lord beginning this June from Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli!