supplemental reading

'Darth Vader' comic fixes the biggest failure of 'Rise of Skywalker'

"I will find the Emperor's secrets....no matter what stands in my way."

Experiencing Mandalorian withdrawal? You're probably missing out on a great tale in a different medium — comics. The Darth Vader comics have found explosive fodder for storytelling within the gaps in the original trilogy, adding wholly original characters, entire story arcs, and tying up loose ends.

In 2020, the series shifted its focus to flesh out the background of the assassin Ochi, who killed Rey's parents. The most recent issue reveals that a wasted opportunity in Rise of Skywalker will finally be explored in detail. Let's break it down.

Darth Vader #9, released January 13, follows Darth Vader having a crisis of faith and turning against Emperor Palpatine, who sent Ochi to take care of him. Vader and Ochi clash, and the outcome of the battle is pretty much what you'd expect. Vader triumphs, and Ochi pleads for mercy by offering him an item that looks eerily familiar — a Sith wayfinder leading to Exegol.

One of the last images in the issue is Vader holding the wayfinder, scheming to go to Exegol to discover Palpatine's secrets. With more issues on the way, hopefully we'll get to see this mysterious planet in its infancy, before Palpatine (or a clone of him, anyway) hides there for 30 years.

Darth Vader gets his hands on a wayfinder in Darth Vader #9.Marvel Comics

Exegol's inclusion in these new issues just underlines what makes this comic series so great. While The Rise of Skywalker thrust a bunch of new characters, plot elements, and planets into the story at a very late stage, these comics allow for some retroactive world-building to assemble a stronger sense of narrative continuity.

Of course, this still doesn't make The Rise of Skywalker any more enjoyable to fans who don't want to read a bunch of comics beforehand, but for those seeking more answers about what exactly happened, learning more about the twists and turns that led to the events of the movie is pretty gratifying.

The dark landscape of Exegol as depicted in The Rise of Skywalker.Marvel Comics

The most exciting aspect of the new Darth Vader story turns is what Exegol looks like. While it was shrouded in darkness in Rise of Skywalker, the brilliant colors of a comic book will hopefully illustrate it more vividly in the months ahead. As to what Vader finds there, he may stumble across the cloning technology we see in The Mandalorian, not too many years after the events of this comic.

Star Wars comics are ideally an optional supplement to the Star Wars fan experience — adding more depth and context to the movies and occasionally work in moments that landed on the cutting room floor. However, with the sheer volume of half-baked content introduced inThe Rise of Skywalker, these comics may become necessary reading.

That may be annoying, but at least it finally develops these elements and may introduce a whole new group of fans to Star Wars' most woefully underappreciated medium.

Darth Vader #9 is out now.