Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith #7-10 Review "The Dying Light"

4.5

Summary

The Dying Light is the second story arc of Charles Soule’s superb series. In this story, Darth Vader, now in charge of the Inquisitorius, hunts down one of the last remaining Jedi – perhaps the most dangerous to the Empire, but for unexpected reasons.

darth vader: dark lord of the sith – “The dying light” IS PART OF THE CURRENT STAR WARS CANON. CHECK OUT THE TIMELINE.

“The Dying Light” is one of my favorite stories in the current Star Wars continuity. In it, Charles Soule has built on the strong foundations laid in the first arc, “The Chosen One”, to assemble a bold, compelling tale that reimagines a minor character as one of the most important Jedi of the prequel era. With that and lots of intriguing setup for various other corners of the canon, Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith continues to be one of the finest Star Wars comics to date.

Following on from the last issue, Darth Vader, now in charge of training and commanding the Inquisitorius, is tasked with hunting down and eliminating the few Jedi who survived Order 66. First on his itinerary, as hinted at the end of the previous arc, is Jocasta Nu, of “If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist” fame. The snooty archivist is apparently a major threat to the Empire, for reasons that are initially unclear to everyone but the Emperor.

Exactly what information Jocasta has is someone else’s plot point to spoil, although I’m thankful it feels perfectly in-keeping with the established lore and not a weird retcon pulled out of someone’s backside. Nevertheless, we are reintroduced to the librarian in hiding, where she has been saving her vast knowledge of the Jedi Archives in holocrons. As the long-time archivist of the Jedi Temple, she’s uniquely equipped to pass on this wisdom to a new school (Nu-School?) of Jedi – but how she plans to do that would be telling.

Needless to say, Jocasta has something that Palpatine wants, but to get it, Darth Vader must keep her alive – a mission he must keep secret from the Grand Inquisitor and the rest of the Inquisitorius, which is where the arc’s compelling internal conflict comes from.

The Grand Inquisitor has already taken umbrage with Vader because of his training style – he believes the Dark Lord is setting the Inquisitors up to fail. But he’s also savvy enough to recognise that in trusting the program to Vader, the Emperor has made their success his apprentice’s responsibility; their failure is also his. Knowing the eventual dynamic between these characters (and their fates) makes these early interactions between them doubly interesting. Here, the Grand Inquisitor does not fear and respect Vader the way he soon will. It’s a useful suspense-building trick, making the audience wonder just how Vader will assert his authority over the meddlesome Inquisitor.

Of more pressing concern, though, is the Inquisitor’s hatred of Jocasta Nu, whose refusal to allow him access to the Archives when he was a Jedi contributed to his fall to the Dark Side. It’s not the most grown-up or fleshed-out reason for a complete moral U-turn, but the effort is there. More important is how it establishes the further conflict between the Grand Inquisitor and Vader; one is eager to kill Jocasta, the other is mandated to keep her alive and well.

The story doesn’t culminate how you imagine it might but, again, that would be telling. The ending of the final issue, though, is one of the things I enjoy most about “The Dying Light”; not only does it establish the first inkling of a rift between Vader and Palpatine, but it cements Jocasta’s new place in Star Wars canon as an indispensable character whose actions had far-reaching and important consequences. And it does so without contorting the continuity or straying out of character – a fine writing achievement, by any measure, and one of the best singular justifications for this kind of multimedia storytelling that you can currently point to. Dark Lord of the Sith is one of the books that really justified this shared-universe approach.

That Jocasta is given so much agency here is a large part of why “The Dying Light” works so well. Her resolve is sincere, and her mission compelling, especially considering its boldness so soon after Order 66. But what Soule manages to do is not just reinvent her, but play on the vague legacy she already had, which allows her more direct impact on Vader; Soule has her aged wisdom get through to him on some level. This, as well as being a nice character moment, ties in directly with stories further along in the timeline. And it shows a versatility to Dark Lord of the Sith that this arc works and manages to hit various emotional beats in ways that the first arc didn’t – or at least did differently.

As before, the Dark Lord of the Sith art team deserves a large amount of credit. Each panel is a delight, with a stylized but cinematic appeal, and a continuing darker colour scheme to better match its title character. “The Dying Light” is dense with unique visuals, action set-pieces and smaller character moments, and they’re all brought to life with vividness and flair.

Charles Soule’s work on the current Star Wars canon has, thus far, been absolutely stellar. His Obi-Wan & Anakin miniseries was solid, his six-issue preceding arc here was some of the strongest foundational material for any series, and his work elsewhere in Lando and Poe Dameron has been excellent too. Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith is an excellent, important comic, and just when I thought it couldn’t top its first arc, “The Dying Light” did just that.

Jonathon Wilson

Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.

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