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New Darth Vader comic explains 'Rise of Skywalker's surprising final scene

"I hate sand."

Lucasfilm

A new Star Wars comic focusing on Darth Vader in the time between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi might change how you perceive the end of the The Rise of Skywalker.

Spoilers follow for The Rise of Skywalker and Marvel’s Darth Vader #1.

The StarWars.com debuted several preview pages for Marvel’s Star Wars: Darth Vader #1 on Wednesday. Written by Greg Pak and drawn by Raffaelle Ienco, these panels show Vader reckoning with his past as he visits the Lars homestead on Tatooine. This means the last person to visit the abandoned home before Rey shows up at the end of The Rise of Skywalker was Darth Vader 31 years prior.

“Hunting for information on Luke Skywalker and seeking revenge on all those who hid his son from him, tragedies and images from Vader’s past come hurtling back — proving they’re always with him,” the official description reads.

Vader wanders around learning about Luke’s life, including that his son also has a knack for flying and once spent his time taking care of droids, tinkering with gadgets and other toys in his workshop. When Vader remembers Luke falling in Cloud City, he sees Shmi Skywalker and Padmé falling to their deaths. In a curious way, this makes Darth Vader seem far more human than before and further contextualizes his inevitable redemption in Return of the Jedi. It also forges an interesting connection between Vader and Rey, in a sense.

Darth Vader visited the Lars homestead on Tatooine before 'Return of the Jedi'.Marvel Comics

As far as we know, this is the first time Vader’s been here since Attack of the Clones on that fateful trip when his mother died and he slaughtered a village of Tusken raiders. Vader ruminates on the guilt he feels for all of his past failures and is haunted by visions of his past, mainly the most emotional moments of his life like that one.

He feels less like the cold-hearted killing machine the original films present him as, and more conflicted like Kylo Ren was in the new trilogy. It also implies that Vader was a bit surprised to confront his son in Empire Strikes Back, raising the question: When did Vader realize his children were alive?

In retrospect, the Skywalker family tree wasn’t established in A New Hope whatsoever. Even Leia wasn’t identified as Luke’s sister until Return of the Jedi. Which is to say that Darth Vader spent almost two full decades thinking that when Padmé died so did her child/children. Palpatine led him to believe as much.

It’s unclear exactly when Darth Vader realized that Luke was his son in the original trilogy, but it may have happened early in Empire Strikes Back when Palpatine refers to Luke as “the son of Skywalker.” In the canonical 2015 Darth Vader #6 comic, Vader learns Luke’s name from Boba Fett sometime after the Battle of Yavin. Here, Vader is angry, frustrated, and … sad?

In the last preview panel available, Darth Vader ignites his lightsaber, and his assistant droid realizes he came to take his anger out on something or someone. But nobody is left alive.

Vader's looking to punish someone or something at the Lars homestead.Marvel Comics

Does Vader throw a tantrum and destroy the Lars homestead even further after this panel? Or is all the destruction Rey discovers at the end of The Rise of Skywalker from old-fashioned sand sweeping in from the wind? We’ll have to wait to find out, but the canonical Vader may never be the same.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #1 will be released February 5, 2020.

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