WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Darth Vader #21 by Charles Soule, Daniele Orlandini, Giuseppe Camuncoli, David Curiel and VC's Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
Marvel has been revealing a great deal about Darth Vader's ambitions over the last few years. We've come to see that, not only has he been harboring grudges against Emperor Palpatine and the Inquisitors, he has managed to keep it secret for the most part. However, the extent of his lust for power is unraveling more and more.
After being granted a couple gifts by Palpatine -- Queen Amidala's old ship and the planet Mustafar -- Lord Vader goes about building his castle, a place of solitude to rest, reflect and meditate. But this turns out to be much more than a story of construction from Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli, as we see the apprentice striking a deceptive deal with a mysterious Sith Lord long thought dead in what's poised to be his new home.
This Sith Lord is none other than Momin. For the most part, he is physically dead, because all that remains is his mask. But his spirit still lives on -- and it's possessing people. Now, Soule is picking back up on threads from his 2015 Lando series with Alex Maleev, where the smuggler stole the Emperor's space yacht, the Imperialis, with the mask aboard. There, it turned into a horror as the mask began possessing Lando's squad of thieves, who ended up trying to kill each other. We saw that the mask feeds off hate, rage and blood being spilled. Aside from this, not much else was divulged in terms of the mask's history.
In this issue, though, we find out from Palpatine that Momin was a Sith architect who believed in harnessing the Dark Side of the Force to build things -- art, sculptures and, of course, buildings. Palpatine offered Vader the relic for inspiration, as Momin was a sort of Leonardo da Vinci. However, Vader knows there's more to him because he was struck from the Sith and Jedi archives for his heretical ways. It appears he perverted the Force, and if the Sith decide to cast you out, it's clear you're truly dangerous.
As Vader's three-man contingent approach Mustafar, the mask tricks him into seeing deformed hallucinations of young Anakin Skywalker aboard the ship, hinting there's terror to come. Eventually, Colonel Brenne (the main architect of the castle) has her first design chastised by Vader when they land and settle down, but as she's walking away, the other person in the team, Lieutenant Roggo, blasts her through the chest. When Vader investigates, he finds Roggo with Momin's mask on and attacks with his red lightsaber. However, Roggo pulls up schematics showing the draft for the obsidian fortress we'd eventually see in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Vader knows a great darkness has risen, but instead of stopping this avatar for Momin, he withdraws and accepts the castle. He does this for a couple of reasons: He knows Mustafar is a source of Sith power waiting to be harnessed. Also, he could potentially unlock more secrets from Momin to topple Palpatine. In short, Vader can achieve his true potential from someone even Palpatine is in awe of -- and maybe even intimidated by.
Now, it's unknown if this was a trap set by Palpatine all along, especially as it seemed like the mask was destroyed in the Lando series in an explosion. How it survived remains to be seen, but Palpatine always has a reason for a gift. Maybe he wanted Momin to be another test for Vader.
There's also the possibility that Momin wants to use Vader himself, whether as a tool against his Sith brethren, or maybe as a vessel. What's clear is that these three dark lords are on a major collision course, and as it stands Vader may well find himself paying a big price for this deal he's struck with the devil.