Not only is Marvel’s Darth Vader comic series is a thrilling bridge between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and connects the dots between some of the more mystifying leaps in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. One of the benefits of a movie streaked with plot holes is that creators like Greg Pak and Raffaele Ienco can fill them with weird and vibrant imagination. I forgive Darth Vader for paving over Shadows of the Empire, because the feud between robo-Anakin and the Emperor is operatic drama peppered with references to the sprawling galaxy — even parts from The Rise of Skywalker left on the cutting room floor.
This week’s issue finds Vader stranded and ripped apart on Mustafar. Furious over the failed attempt to woo Luke Skywalker to the dark side during the events of Empire, Palpatine tore the limbs off his cyborg apprentice, forbade him from using the Force, and left him to reassemble himself on the lava planet. All that and he hired Ochi of Bestoon, who’s mentioned in Rise of Skywalker as having killed Rey’s parents on behalf of Palpatine and the Sith Eternal. (So is not the character we’re hinting at — more to come). In the case of Darth Vader #7, the Sith assassin has been tasked with making Vader’s life all the more miserable. Where’s HR when you need it?
The issue is the closest we may ever get to The Revenant by way of Star Wars. The duel on Mustafar is grungy and explosive, and all the while Vader’s mind is slipping back to those pivotal moments in Revenge of the Sith. Writing for Vader in the comics is always tough — traditionally, he doesn’t have a way with words — but Pak finds the right brooding anger in which to push the story forward and Ienco finds even more character in the hellish landscapes of Mustafar. Also Ochi seems like a huge dipshit.
The real jaw-to-floor moment in the comic comes in the final pages, when a character completely excised from The Rise of Skywalker makes his way back into Lucasfilm-approved canon.
[Ed. note: The rest of this story contains spoilers for Darth Vader #7]
Having only appeared in concept art for TRoS and the film’s novelization — we can debate in the comments if that’s canon — Darth Vader #7 (re?)introduces a character who is more key to the late Star Wars years than anyone would have thought.
Welcome back to the stage, the Eye of Webbish Bog!
Here’s how the creature’s described in the novelization, when Kylo Ren encounters it on his opening quest on Mustafar:
A giant emerged, a hairless creature sheening with wetness, bits of lake detritus clinging to its pasty skin. Its eyes were squeezed shut, but it could still see after a fashion, because draped over its massive bald head and across one shoulder was a second creature with long spidery tentacles. The two were locked in symbiosis. Kylo sensed the giant’s pain, as though it were a slave to the spidery being that clung to it. Yet neither could it survive alone.
In the book, the Eye of Webbish Bog is defending the Sith wayfinder that Kylo eventually uses to track down Palpatine on Exogol. With its reintroduction in the comics, we may see the origins of that moment — or something entirely different, as the moment never actually happened on screen.
But it was supposed to: In the quite revealing Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, creature builder Neal Scanlan says the “Oracle” went through a number of redesigns before Abrams landed on the spidery symbiote, and that the version built for shooting was the biggest silicon pour his crew had ever done. “The guys who did Bor Gullet for [Rogue One: A Star Wars Story] approached this one in a rather off-handed way,” Scanlan said. “To their credit, they did it in one pour. It was nearly twenty-eight thousand pounds.”
A tease at the end of the book promises even more of the Eye of Webbish Bog in Darth Vader #8. That book hits stands on Dec. 16.