December 8, 2023
Comic Review | Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith - Volume One (Imperial Machine)

Exploring the rise of the Dark Lord of the Sith in Marvel’s Star Wars comics

The moment he stepped onto the corridors of the Tantive IV in Star Wars: A New Hope, Darth Vader instantaneously became a legend in Star Wars lore. In the original trilogy, we learn that he is a servant to the sinister Emperor Palpatine. We also ascertain that he was once Anakin Skywalker, father of Luke and Leia and former Jedi Knight. Anakin’s backstory is further delved into with the prequel films and the phenomenal Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie and animated series. We witness the rise and eventual fall of the brash and at times “not by the Jedi code” character. Fans were not apprised of the early days of Vader until Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith comic series came out in November of 2017. Written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Guiseppe Camuncoli and Cam Smith, the comic takes place right after the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Let’s take a deep dive into what we have digested in volume 1 so far in this astounding series.  (This is part one of a two-part breakdown on the first two volumes so far.)



We start off as Vader is being told of Padme’s death by the Emperor. The foul Lord Sidious begins torturing Vader to teach him how pain is an essential part of the dark side. Reeling with rage and revenge, Vader is set out on his first mission from his new master; To create a new lightsaber. To do this, Vader must find a living Jedi, destroy them, and take their lightsaber.  We learn from the Emperor how the lightsaber of a Sith is turned into the infamous crimson color. The process is known as ‘bleeding’. Through the use of the dark side, one must pour their pain into kyber crystal. Once the crystal can no longer take the agony of that pain, a beautiful crimson color will appear. This is the first time in canon that we learn how the red glow of a Sith’s lightsaber is generated.

Without a lightsaber, Vader begins the quest that has been bestowed upon him. After being dropped off on a planet in the mid rim, Vader must find the ship that the Emperor had left behind for him. He comes across a gang of pirates that has seized his property. Using only the force, Vader is relentless and easily reclaims what is his. In these moments we get a glimpse of how powerful he was becoming with the dark side of the force. As his power grows so lessens the light side, and Anakin himself. His ruthlessness is proven further as he flies to the Mid-Rim Jedi outpost known as Brighthome. There, he takes down an entire battalion of clone troopers. Before destroying the outpost, Vader finds the name of a once Jedi master that has survived order 66…Kirak Infil’a.

So, who is this once Jedi master? Kirak was part of the Jedi Order at one time. According to records he had one purpose within the order, to fight. At this point, it has been many years since he participated in any Jedi affairs. The reason for his absence is because of the Barash vow he has taken. The Barash vow is a type of penance that a Jedi takes on themselves. They refrain from any business that involves the order. They stay tuned into the force but do not interfere. Vader deduced that finding a Jedi that took the Barash vow would be faster. As he raced to meet Master Infil’a, it was clear that Kirak was awaiting his arrival. In the beginning, Vader had difficulty with Kirak. He was very powerful with the force. After suffering some damage, Vader was able to repair himself and eventually defeat kirak and take his lightsaber.

As Vader’s mission was coming to a close, the Emperor had him go back to Mustafar to complete the ‘bleeding’ process of the kyber crystal. The place where Anakin truly became Darth Vader. As he started to spill his pain into the crystal, a vision came to him. In this vision, Anakin realized what he had done. He goes on to confront and defeat the Emperor. The part of the vision that thoroughly caught me off guard was the appearance of Obi-Wan Kenobi. You see Obi-Wan looking into the distance on a remote planet and then he turns to see Vader. At that moment Anakin calls his name and Kenobi realizes it’s him. After dismissing that vision Vader is successful in his quest and turns the crystal into a killer crimson red.


The final part of “Imperial Machine”, we learn about a plan that Lord Sidious had been scheming up. As Vader is checking on an intruder alert inside the Jedi Temple, he comes across the Grand Inquisitor. As many Star Wars Rebels fan know, he played an interquel part in the first season of that show. He was once a Jedi Knight but felt betrayed by the order and turned to the dark side. Before Vader or the Grand Inquisitor destroyed one another, the Emperor intervened and shared his plan with them. Palpatine had formed a group of Inquisitor’s whose sole purpose was to hunt down the surviving Jedi in the galaxy. The last illustration leaves a bit of a cliffhanger, as you see Jocasta Nu sitting down in a cave on some distant planet. For those who do not know, Jocasta Nu was the Liberian of the Jedi Temple. She was the person that Obi-Wan Kenobi asked for help in Attack of the Clones. Her role has just begun, and you will learn about it in my volume two breakdown!



The first volume for me was beautifully written and illustrated. If you are Vader fan, this is a MUST read! As a reader, you learn details about him that you might not have known before. The struggle he was going through with being the Jedi he knew he should and the pain and suffering he was going through was flawlessly depicted. The other aspect that I really enjoyed was the relationship between him and the Emperor. The distrust that they had for one another was an interesting plot in the first volume and continues into volume two. The introduction of new and old characters is done organically and ties the overall canon very well. With this comic series, the legend of Vader will only become that much more captivating. Let me know what you think! Have you read the first volume? If so, let me know your thoughts!

Be on the lookout for my volume two breakdown soon!

And as always, may the force be with you!


The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.

Leave a Reply