As we rush full force into the new canon, with Star Wars Rebels, the comics, the novels, the standalone, and Episode VII so much new information is being developed and brought to us. So many characters and organizations are receiving much more depth. Luke, the empire, the rebellion, order 66, the ghost crew, the emperor, and Tarkin, the list goes on and on. However, I would like to stop for a moment and examine the changes to one character, Darth Vader.
Even before I saw the prequels I never had a view of Darth Vader as incredibly evil. For some reason I had always thought of him as a good person doing bad things, which in my opinion weren’t so horrible. I mean, honestly, the worst thing he does in the Original trilogy is kill some so-called, bad imperial officers. We don’t get to see him doing the mass murdering or cruelty we are now seeing in the books and comics. Then, when I watched the prequels, my vision of him as overall a good person was reinforced as I saw how Anakin was more or less manipulated and used (by both Palatine and the Jedi) into becoming what he became. This is not to say he is excused from what he did, he just was never the one-dimensional bad guy that say, Palatine was. I also grew very fond of the Clone Wars Anakin in a way I never did with the prequel Anakin. The prequel Anakin I pitied, the Clone Wars Anakin I identified with. Now, coming right off the Clone wars I am having a very interesting time merging Anakin and the cold-blooded killer of Darth Vader in the novels and comics.
I have now read all the new canon material on Darth Vader. The comic Vader 1-5, Lords of the Sith, and Tarkin. Oddly enough, I am finding my view of Vader both challenged and reinforced. The first glimpse of the new Vader I saw was in Tarkin. The first scene with him is one of a warranted, yet cruel, execution. As we move through that book we see Vader kill many times, sometimes vindictively, sometimes justly. However, I finished that book with a slightly tainted, but still bright opinion of Vader. It was not until I read Lords of the Sith and the Darth Vader comics that I found my opinion of Vader to be challenged. Seeing what he does in those books finally convinced me to slightly alter my opinion of Vader. I love the character no less now, but I came to the realization that perhaps I was giving him too much of a pass on the horrible things that he had done, because of the good he had done. We are not judged by how much good we have done. Doing good is what is already expected of us, no, we are judged by what we do wrong.
I said that this material had reinforced by opinion as well, and that is also true. One thing it showed is how, to some extent, he is still a tool of the emperor. In the prequels his worst actions were at Palpatines bequest. Now, it is the same, his worst actions are also at the orders of the emperor. These books also highlight Vader’s loyalty. Before, it was to a so called good cause, now it is to an evil one. Vader feels an extreme sense of loyalty to Palpatine, and I oddly respected him for it. Loyalty is hard to find and hard to keep, and seeing it here made me admire to an extent.
I do have one complaint with how he is portrayed in this new material however. In the Clone Wars he was by far the most respected the Jedi by the clones. He was a very charismatic leader and deeply cared for his men. In the new canon, he is still revered by his men, but does not return this care. Personally, I would like to see him still care about his men, to certain extent, not just use them as body armor, as he does in the comics. However, that is just my opinion.
As we move forward into the new canon I am very excited to see what we will find. I look forward to finding out about all characters. However, more then the rest I want to learn more about the man who was Anakin Skywalker then Darth Vader, and finally through wonderful redemption, Anakin Skywalker once more. With Rebels 3 weeks away we will yet find out just a little more.