SPOILER REVIEW - "Darth Vader (2020-) #6: Into the Fire, Part 1: The Punishment" by Greg Pak
Woah!! Not wow, but woah!! Talk about disturbing and shiver-inducing. This issue even left me a bit queasy. I knew the story was going to be all about Palpatine punishing Vader, but dang he took it to the nth level! There's some truly frightening panels in here--several of which I've included below. Don't say I didn't warn you...
We start on Coruscant with Palpatine violently attacking Vader with Force lightning. As way of explanation for this punishment, Mas Amedda expounds, "You were sent to bring Skywalker to the Dark Side...instead, you let him escape. Then you were summoned to report to your Emperor...instead, you left on your own personal mission. You discovered a cell of Rebels...led by a double of Senator Amidala, whom you should have slaughtered. Instead, you let her escape. At best, failure. At worst, treason." Yikes! When you put it that way, I guess Vader's exploits were worthy of disciplinary action! At the end of last issue, it seemed like the punishment was more about the cycle of the Dark Side but this is so logical and bureaucratic, crazy. Another thing, Amedda says Sabe survived...but all the Amidalans were handily dealt with by Vader on Polis Massa...how could Amedda possibly know that one Amidalan survived?!? Gives me hope though for Sabe!! I need more stories of her.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph,
Palpatine's punishment of Vader is exceedingly brutal. He sics his royal guards on Vader, takes away his lightsaber, Force chokes him, and then completely demolishes his cybernetics. At first I did not understand what was happening in the panel, but then I flipped to the next one and he's tri-limbless with mechanical parts bursting from his body. I know we're just talking metal and wiring but the way this was drawn is sickening.
Palpatine continues to also verbally attack Vader with, "But who chooses the Chosen One? And why could they not choose another? You are but a tool, Lord Vader...which can be discarded when it no longer functions." Instead of taking the bait, Vader straight up expresses his frustration with Palpatine for outright lying to him about Padme's death!! I truly wonder if his rise up to the light begins in this series, as he's grappling with Palpatine's lies and Padme's truths--the knowledge that she still believed there was good in him at her death and that she did not die by his hand.
And then things get really messed up! Palpatine takes the damaged and broken Vader back to Mustafar where he leaves him in the exact same spot that he found him in all those years ago after his defeat by the hand of Obi-Wan. And Palpatine allows the lava to crawl up his suit, burning him, just like before. He tells Vader that he's not allowed to use the Force to recover and must find the strength within himself alone. Then, Palpatine sends in Ochi of Bestoon (from The Rise of Skywalker!!) to continue to teach Vader his lesson.
Again, this was disturbing as all get out. And it contained more meat and nuance than I could possibly have hoped for. I'm super excited for next issue's Ochi action and can't wait to see what the assassin has in store for our fallen dark lord.
SCORE: 9/10 -- despite the disturbing nature of this issue, or maybe because of it, the story really punched me in the gut and got me to feel all sorts of intense feelings
"Darth Vader (2020-) #6: Into the Fire--The Punishment" written by Greg Pak, illustrated by Raffaele Ienco and Neeraj Menon
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