Following the events of Revenge of the Sith, who is Darth Vader? The Jedi Order is gone, his wife is gone, and, as far as he knows, their one unborn child with her. He has embraced the dark side and suffered for it, now half-machine and trapped in armor that keeps him alive and hides his charred body. Yet he is a Sith Lord, and his master rules the galaxy. So who is he really, what does he want, and what does he do next?
We’re finally going to get the answers to all those questions. Marvel announced today a new Darth Vader ongoing series, coming in June, from writer Charles Soule and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli that will chronicle the former Anakin Skywalker’s first days as Darth Vader. The story picks up immediately after Revenge of the Sith and promises to shed light on some of Vader’s early acts and forays into the dark side, including how he built his red-bladed lightsaber, hunting down surviving Jedi, and more. StarWars.com caught up with Soule, already an acclaimed Star Wars scribe thanks to his excellent work on Marvel’s Poe Dameron, Obi-Wan & Anakin, and Lando, to talk about his plans for the rise of an agent of evil.
StarWars.com: The series begins at such an interesting, if tragic, time in Vader’s life. How do you view him during this period? What’s going on inside Vader’s head?
Charles Soule: In my head, I call this book “Vader: Year One.” While the Sith Lord does exist prior to the start of this book, during the final act of Revenge of the Sith, I think this is where his story really begins — at least in the form most people think of when they visualize Darth Vader. As far as what’s going on in his head, here’s my description of his mindset from the original series pitch: “Vader, on some level, knows that he is a monster — he has to know this, because he still has that famous spark of good left somewhere deep inside him.” He knows (again, probably unconsciously) that the moment he allows himself to even consider a path that isn’t complete and utter darkness, he’ll fall — and he’s right, as we see in Return of the Jedi. So, he doubles down on the dark side as almost a coping method.
So…not a lot of singalongs in this book
StarWars.com: I always loved the final shot of Vader in Revenge of the Sith. Standing there with his arms crossed, kind of left with this new existence as the Emperor’s enforcer. How did you decide what comes next?
Charles Soule: That was one of the most amazing writing experiences I’ve ever had…what comes next? This book literally begins one second after the shot you just described, which meant I had to decide what Vader was thinking there, and how he would react. A pretty incredible opportunity as a writer, especially as a lifelong Star Wars fan. How did I decide? I just put myself into his head as much as I could. Not easy, and not pleasant, but it generated quite a story, as you’ll see.
StarWars.com: What can we expect from the Vader/Palpatine relationship? At this point, they’ve had one real bit of conflict: Palpatine telling Vader that he had killed Padmé in his anger, which Vader didn’t quite believe. Is any of that father-son dynamic, even if it was phony on Palpatine’s side, still left?
Charles Soule: Absolutely, and I honestly don’t think it’s phony. That’s sort of the key to Palpatine and Anakin, in my mind. Palpatine does have an attachment to this guy. He’s a tool, and if he screws up I think the Emperor would discard him, but that’s not what he wants. He wants Vader to succeed, not just to further the goals of the Empire, but for his own sake. Vader and Palpatine are connected by true emotion, even if it’s twisted and dark. Palpatine is the only father Anakin ever knew, and just because their relationship has…evolved, let’s say…it doesn’t mean the core is gone. Fascinating dynamic to write — and we get a bunch of it in the series.
The entire interview with Soule can be read at StarWars.com.