Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Raffaele Ienco
Color Artist: Neeraj Menon
Cover Artists: Aaron Kuder & Richard Isanove
Darth Vader was punished by Emperor Palpatine. The Emperor broke him and left him on Mustafar with the sole task of becoming stronger. Lord Vader rebuilt himself and faced many perils: assassins, imperial soldiers, even the macabre Eye of Webbish Bog. Vader overcome it all and made his way through the Red Nebula to the center of his master’s secrets. In Star Wars: Darth Vader #11, Darth Vader will discover the dark secrets of Exegol.
If you’re interested in this comic, series, or any of the others mentioned, simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon.
Greg Pak is really trying to make the sequel trilogy’s material work here. If you didn’t like the film Rise of Skywalker, then this may not be the book for you. From the beginning of this story arc, Pak’s been setting up Darth Vader to discover all the elements from the film. He’s got the Sith Assassin Ochi, the Wayfinder, the Eye of Webbish Bog, the Red Nebula, and now Exegol. However, all of that is secondary to the main conflict here – Darth Vader vs. Emperor Palpatine. Something fans have been wanting to see or read about for years. But it’s more accurate to say it’s a confrontation then anything else.
The issue focuses on the hidden fortress of Exegol, and Vader leading a charge with the space monster he tamed from the Red Nebula. Which looks excellent by Raffaele Ienco and Neeraj Menon. However, this is The Emperor we’re talking here. So the assault – if you can call it that – doesn’t go that well for Vader. Even the manner of how Emperor Palpatine dispatches the space monster is pretty cool and dark for him.
Ultimately, this comic amounts to Vader making his way through the Sith fortress of Exegol and facing the final trials of Emperor Palpatine. The dark lord of the Sith testing his apprentice each step of the way. However, Exegol looks a little underwhelming. See, Ienco and Menon do a great job illustrating the familiar sights of Exegol that were featured in the film, and even shows some new aspects of it. But the comic fails to capture the same menacing aura the film portrays.
Not only that, but while the comic treats Exegol like a big revelation – as it should be to Vader – it isn’t to anyone who’s seen the film or watched the scenes online. Not to mention, the big “revelations” are only surface-level and aren’t that impactful to readers.
It makes up for this in the fights that Vader has against members of the cultish Sith Eternal. However, don’t expect any big answers on who they are, where they really come from, and why they serve the Emperor. For all the “revelations” made in this comic, that is not one of them. But Vader’s fights with the Sith Eternal are increasingly brutal and creative, especially his takedowns of the cultists.
From there, the comic makes one final play at a big “revelation” and I’ll discuss this in spoilers.
After Darth Vader fights through the Sith Eternal, he and Ochi discover the secret fleet of star destroyers from Rise of Skywalker. But this isn’t the ace up this comic’s sleeve. The real big reveal is a large mountain of Kyber Crystal, the living material used to power the lightsabers of Jedi and Sith as well as the original Death Star.
This sequence is where the comic’s red-orange coloring by Menon really shines, literally. Darth Vader is given a major display of pain and power from the Kyber Crystal, the two cornerstones of Palpatine’s trials in this comic, and indeed the entire story arc. Emperor Palpatine descends from the air to Darth Vader, like a dark holy figure bathed in burning red light that sears the flesh of everyone but him and makes a proclamation to his apprentice. If Vader stands with him, then he will never escape terrible pain, but he will always share in the Emperor’s ultimate power. Obviously, Vader chooses to stand by his master.
Star Wars: Darth Vader #11 concludes the story arc as Darth Vader fights through Emperor Palpatine’s final trials. While the art and colors are excellent, the story is fairly predictable but offers a cool series of encounters and an interesting confrontation between Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. For fans who jumped off due to the Rise of Skywalker material, you can join right back in next issue.