After finally reaching Exogol, Palpatine tests Vader once again to determine whether he is still worthy of being a Sith Apprentice as Vader learns of his Master’s secret plans.
Questions get answered in this issue, we learn more about Palpatine’s master plan on Exogol than any of the material published around ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ concerning the Final Order. This wasn’t just something Palpatine had going on behind the scenes between the Original and Sequel Trilogies, this has been going on for a long, long time.
After Palpatine defeats the giant squid creature Vader brought to Exogol, the Sith Lord leads Vader through the ancient Sith Temple. We see the clone vats full of Snoke duplicates and even a container with Luke Skywalker’s severed hand.
Vader is forced to battle some Clone Warriors that he is seemingly overwhelmed by until he gains the upper hand, then a whole group of the Sith Acolytes surround him. He is tainted by Palpatine who says that any one of them could take Vader’s place. Vader kills them all.
Vader hears a crying sound throughout the Temple and as he makes his way through, along with Ochi, he finds the Star Destroyer fleet, and Ochi discovers the planet destroying weapons attached to them.
Vader finally finds the source of the crying, a giant Kyber Crystal that is being corrupted, like a Sith must do to make their lightsaber. Chunks of the Crystal are being removed for the Star Destroyer weapons. As a piece is removed, Ochi’s mask falls away and his eyes are burned by the blast.
Palpatine reiterates the way of the Sith to Vader and as Vader has a vision of him and Skywalker on Bespin when Vader tried to get Luke to join him, but this time with their roles reversed, Vader realises he is beaten and follows his Master with Sly Moore and Mas Amedda along with Ochi from the Temple.
It’s been a long time coming, but this issue has finally arrived (about two months after the last one) and we finally get a satisfying issue in this story-arc and unfortunately it’s the last part of the story as well.
Vader’s journey through The Exogol Temple answers more questions we had from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ however, I’m sure this will be seen as a way for the Story Group to fix mistakes made by Abrams and Terrio, but for me this is just a way of expanding the lore.
Ochi’s character, whilst following Vader for most of the issue, comes across better now than in the past issues he’s been in and we finally get him unmasked, hopefully if the character stays in the series he’ll be more toned down and come across more like the sinister character we briefly glimpsed in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.
The story, whilst really not wowing me over the last few issues really got to a great place with this one and I’m glad I stuck with the run. When I started seeing spoilers for this issue cropping up when it was released (I got it a day later) my intrigue was at a whole new level that it hadn’t been for this series. Park really brought the story to a great conclusion and Ienco’s art is fantastic.
Now Vader is back in Palpatine’s good books, I’m very interested to see what happens next for The Dark Lord of the Sith as ‘The War of the Bounty Hunters’ starts next month.
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