Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 1 – Imperial Machine

I can’t believe that I’m about to say this. I found this book to be disappointing.

I think, because I had heard so many great things about Charles Soule’s Vader series that I went in with very high expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, it starts out amazingly in the first issue which is essentially Vader and Palpatine talking about a whole bunch of Sith stuff whilst the Empire’s rule solidifies and the anti-Jedi rhetoric is at an all time high.

Vader’s first mission is to get himself a new lightsaber, by taking it from a Jedi he kills and bleeding the Kyber Crystal to produce a red blade.

Vader searches for a Jedi who has taken the Barash Vow, meaning that they have removed themselves from all Jedi business.

He locates one and their first encounter goes badly for Vader and he basically has most of his cybernetic limbs damaged. He is able to repair them using parts from a Droid destroyed in the battle and he takes on the Jedi again, this time beating him as well as wiping out a whole village by destroying a damn and flooding the area.

Vader then goes to Mustafar and attempts to bleed the crystal, having visions of him killing Palpatine. Eventually the crystal bends to Vader’s will.

Back on Coruscant, Vader’s limbs are repaired as he heals in a Bacta Tank. Later he meets with Palpatine who tells him there is an intruder in the old Jedi Archives. Vader investigates and encounters a Dark Side user who turns out to be The Grand Inquisitor. The two battle until Palpatine arrives.

The Emperor reveals that he knew it was the Grand Inquisitor and set the fight up as a test. He takes Vader to meet the other Inquisitors and leaves Vader in charge of them.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, Jedi Librarian Jocasta Nu is sat in a cave.

I really wanted to enjoy this book. I really likes Charles Soule’s previous Star Wars mini-series on ‘Lando’ and the time period this was set made me really excited to read it but I really struggled with it.

Highlights though, as there were a couple, were the first and last issues. The Vader/Palpatine dynamic was so on point. The minor alteration of the ‘Frankenstein’ scene from ‘Revenge of the Sith’ was well done, just by adding Palpatine getting blasted by the Force and the repercussions of that.

The addition of the Barash Vow is interesting and it makes me wonder how long this has been going on and if these Jedi go on this pilgrimage of sorts because of their loss of faith in the Jedi Order and rather than leave as its all that they have known all their lives, they go away to meditate. We all know the Jedi have been losing their way over time and maybe there have been more and more Jedi taking this Barash Vow that could lead to some interesting ‘surviving Force Users’ stories down the road.

The last issue, for me was the highlight of the book. The introduction of The Grand Inquisitor into the series and learning more about the Inquisitorius got me really excited for future arcs. I love the idea of this group and really enjoyed them in ‘Rebels’ and now ‘Jedi: Fallen Order’ so getting more info on them now is exciting for me.

I really hope it was my expectations that made me feel disappointed by this book, because there were elements I really enjoyed and the series shows a lot of promise. On top of that Charles Soule is a great Star Wars writer so I’m hopeful.

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