Warning! Spoilers ahead for Darth Vader #3
Darth Vader has returned to the planet in the Star Wars Universe that sparked his whole journey from desert slave, to Jedi, to Dark Lord of the Sith. In Marvel Comics’ Darth Vader #3, the Dark Lord is searching for the truth about his late wife’s final moments. In doing so, he has formed an alliance with Padmé Amidala’s handmaiden Sabé, at one time the Queen’s Shadow. Together, they travel to Naboo revisiting, and even reliving, key places and events from the Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Read on to learn more.
Thus far in Vader’s quest for the truth, he’s traveled to Coruscant to his wife’s old apartment, though the security tapes he was looking for had been taken. He traces their source and comes face to face with Sabé, the Queen’s Shadow, often serving as Padmé’s decoy thanks to her striking resemblance to the queen and later senator of Naboo.
Having hid the encrypted tapes on Naboo, underwater beneath the lake retreat where Anakin Skywalker once professed his love to Padmé during Attack of the Clones. There they meet Typho and Torna, former agents of Padmé’s security force. Together, they take an old and battered bongo sub into the depths of Naboo, with the implication being that the bongo is the same used by Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Jar Jar Binks during Episode 1, if not the same model. Furthermore, the unlikely group find themselves attacked by a Colo Claw Fish, the very same species that attacked the bongo when the trio were making their way to the city of Theed. However, Vader is able to dispatch of the vicious creature with ease. Once arriving to the underwater facility where the tapes are hidden, Vader comes across a mural depicting the peace celebration between the Naboo and Gungan peoples that was held after the Trade Federation’s occupation of Naboo was ended. Anakin Skywalker is featured on the mural as well, having been a key hero even as a young boy during the battle that unfolded. Sabé tells Vader that they mourn the loss of Anakin as much as they do Padmé. In response, Vader destroys the mural.
The act of revisiting so many key moments from the past of Anakin Skywalker is no doubt creating major conflict within Vader. The past he’s tried so hard to forget and kill is refusing to stay buried. The planet, the lake retreat, the mural, the striking likeness Sabé bears to Padmé: it all forms shadows of the past that keeps putting itself right in Vader’s helmeted face. He can’t help but remember the man he once was, and the woman he loved and feared to lose, which led to his fall to the dark side in the first place, with her being lost all the same because of that same fall.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that when it’s revealed that the tapes were merely bait for the surprise trap set by Sabé and her team to kill Vader (whom they believed killed Padmé and Anakin on Mustafar), Vader confirms their suspicions. In his mind, he not only killed Padmé, but also Anakin Skywalker that day. The intensity of the past has forced him to make another attempt to shove it down even further. He did kill Skywalker. Now there is only Vader. Thankfully, fans know that his own son Luke will help turn him back to the light in Return of the Jedi, and it seems more than likely that the events happening now on Naboo were critical in motivating that redemption to happen. Vader’s time on Naboo is not over however, as the issue ends with a massive Sando Aqua Monster (also seen in Episode 1) ready to consume Darth Vader whole thanks to Sabé and her compatriots.
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