Wizard!

New Star Wars comic reveals a surprising side to Darth Vader’s character

Anakin embraces his inner child.

There are a few irrefutable truths about Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker. He has conflicting feelings about the Force. He loves podracing. And he hates sand. Maybe it’s the fact he grew up on a desert planet, but Anakin never lets us forget how much he hates sand. “It’s gritty, and it gets everywhere,” he tells Padmé in Attack of the Clones. But in a recent comic, Vader is forced to conquer a sandstorm, which, if you’re bionic and full of machinery that could be gummed up by sand, is especially perilous. Even if you do like sand.

Vader’s solution? Another irrefutable truth.

In an exclusive preview, StarWars.com posted some pages of the upcoming Darth Vader #26, which sees Vader on the planet Gabredor III where his ally Sabé has gone missing. In order to find her in a vicious sandstorm, he mounts a podracer. Not just any podracer, either. This podracer is built by Kitster Banai, Anakin’s best friend from childhood.

Naturally, the comic opens with a flashback to the iconic Attack of the Clones scene in which Anakin expresses his distaste for sand. It’s clear this is a full-circle moment for him, calling on both an old passion and an old fear in order to find a solution in the present.

Darth Vader mounts a podracer for (presumedly) the first time since the Boonta Eve Classic in Darth Vader #26.StarWars.com

But there’s another side to this as well. In Legends canon, it’s well known that the Empire cracked down on podracing after the regime change. (In official Star Wars canon, there’s no word on what happened to the sport after the Boonta Eve Classic, so the ban probably still went down.) If that’s true, then mounting a podracer isn’t just nostalgic for Vader — it’s also rebellious.

Podracing was Anakin’s first taste of independence after living as a slave. Years later, Vader is a willing disciple and attack dog for Palpatine and the Empire. Is this our first glimpse of the rebel streak that Anakin passed on to Luke, the same one that would win out in Vader moments before his end?

Vader takes off into the sandstorm.StarWars.com

This moment may just be an interesting nod to the fans and to all of Anakin’s biggest memes, but like all narrative choices in the world of Star Wars, there are bigger implications to even the smallest of choices. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll see more nods to Vader’s past like this — maybe even a follow-up on what happened to Kitster Banai.

Darth Vader #26 will be available for purchase on August 24, 2022.