The Crucial Darth Vader Moment Not Seen in the Movies
Prep for 'Star Wars: Age of Rebellion - Darth Vader' #1 with a look back at a scene only revealed in Star Wars comics.
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The impending arrival of STAR WARS: AGE OF REBELLION – DARTH VADER #1 by Greg Pak and Ramón F. Bachs has got us thinking about a critical development in Star Wars history—one that was only revealed in the comics. We like to call it "the Moment."
Because, in a way, it's the most pivotal realization in the entire saga.
You know the one we mean; the moment when Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, the Emperor’s right hand, learned the identity of the Rebel pilot who destroyed the first Death Star. And while we never saw it in a Star Wars film, it appeared in the pages of a Star Wars comic book…twice!
The beauty of Marvel’s history with the Galaxy Far, Far Away lies in its dual chronicles, one long ago and one unfurling even as you read this. Writers and artists past and present have detailed the Moment, each in their own way.
After the events of A New Hope, illustrated in STAR WARS #1-6, it wasn’t until STAR WARS #18 when Luke Skywalker again found himself in the presence of the Dark Lord—sort of. As he and his Rebel pals headed to a strange satellite called the Wheel, he brushed Darth Vader’s mind as he practiced the his of the Force and set in motion of a series of events he’d long remember.
For his part, Vader followed up on that fleeting encounter in STAR WARS #21 by following the Force to the Wheel, though at the time he’d no idea who was so strong in the energy field to cause the disturbance. The Rebels escaped the satellite in STAR WARS #23 and Luke left the Sith Lord with a little Force backlash as a going-away present…which only made Vader even more determined to learn his identity.
After a side-trip in STAR WARS #29 to wrest Luke’s name from a Rebel deserter—Vader was foiled by the cyborg bounty hunter called Valance and the Rebel himself—the Dark Lord finally got what he’d been looking for in STAR WARS #35.
The Moment explodes full-blown on the issue’s first page, but for the modern reader, Vader’s reaction might seem a bit odd. He’s glad to have the information, but shows no signs of recognition for the name “Skywalker.” Of course, this was early 1980 and before The Empire Strikes Back, so no one outside of George Lucas knew the truth of the relationship between the Imperial terror and the farmboy.
The modern Marvel era of Star Wars comics delivered the Moment with a little more panache, a bit more angst, and a whole lotta drama.
Following a brief encounter in STAR WARS #2 between the two combatants—and some delicious dialogue—Luke and Vader go their separate ways completely oblivious as to where the other is. Then, when the young Rebel pilot narrowly avoids his death or capture at the hands of notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett in STAR WARS #6, Fett gives his employer the only thing he left the meeting with—the name of Skywalker.
The Moment comes quickly as Vader absorbs the knowledge, realizes what it means, and vents his anger on the Star Destroyer window he’s standing in front of. It’s a great scene, one decades in the making.
Right at that same time, DARTH VADER #6 did something really remarkable: It showed us the exact same scene, but in more dazzling detail. We saw Vader’s mind turning to remembrances of Padmé, his joy over her pregnancy, and his despair over the news he’d allegedly caused her death…and presumably the death of his unborn child. The Sith Lord, brimming with anger, calls the Emperor and receives a tongue-lashing from his master for the temerity of it all.
“I understand us precisely,” Vader says, kneeling, not looking up. Later, looking out of his cracked window, he reflects on the name Skywalker, the truth of it, and his growing desire to knock the Emperor off his throne.
What a moment.
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