WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Darth Vader #23 by Charles Soule, Daniele Orlandini, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Dono Sanchez-Almara David Curiel and VC’s Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
In Marvel Comics' Darth Vader series, we've been getting a rare glimpse into the emotional side of Emperor Palpatine's Sith apprentice. In the early trilogy of movies, he's cold and calculating, but now we're learning that deep beneath the mask, pieces of Anakin Skywalker still exist, albeit with a humanity as charred as his skin.
Issue #23 expands on this exploration of the villain, revealing that Vader at his most heartbroken is also when he's most focused. Using his emotions as motivation, at long last, he finally achieves the dream every Sith Lord has ever wanted. Vader manages to breach the membrane of the Force, opening the gateway between life and death. However, his success is short-lived thanks to the kind of betrayal that's typical of the Sith Order.
We first thought Vader was building his obsidian castle of Mustafar as a fortress of solitude, as the planet channeled the Dark Side of the Force like no other location in the galaxy. This may well have been due to it being the center of all Vader's rage, as it was where the former Jedi was left to burn to death by Obi Wan Kenobi. That said, with the Sith Lord Momin constructing his palace, we found out the castle was more than somewhere to meditate. By harnessing the dark energy of the planet, Momin could actually use the castle to help Vader pierce the veil of the afterlife and bring back his beloved Padme Amidala.
Their attempts here start off with repeated failures, as Momin's design simply can't tune into the energy reservoir of Mustafar. However, on the ninth try, Momin finally nails the design we saw in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which feels "just right" for him, and more importantly, Vader. Palpatine's general can feel the Force flowing through him, with the castle operating like a tuning fork, locking into the pitch and frequencies he needs. And so, with Momin's guidance, Vader opens the rift he's desperately worked for.
This search for immortality is what lured him over to Palpatine's side in Revenge of the Sith in the first place, as he wanted to harness the Force so he and Padme could live forever. When she died during childbirth, the scarred Emperor promised Anakin there was still a way to revive her, bargaining the secrets of life and death he learnt from his own mentor, Darth Plagueis. Of course, this was merely false hope Palpatine dangled over Vader for decades, all so he could carry out his evil bidding in the hopes of once more seeing Padme in the flesh.
Now we're seeing that Vader had stopped buying into the Emperor's folly, and this is what drives him to one-up Palpatine by achieving the ultimate goal of all Sith Lords. However, when Vader opens the rift, he's distracted by huge bugs attacking from beneath's Mustafar's core. As he tends to that matter, Momin betrays him, using the Dark Side to plunge Vader into the fiery depths of Mustafar, leaving the rift for him alone to exploit. It's all a ruse so Momin could use the rift to bring back his own physical body following his death eons ago.
Seeing as Palpatine (back when he was Darth Sidious) killed Plagueis so he alone could hold the knowledge of resurrection, it's fitting to see Momin stabbing Vader in the back as well. We don't really hear much of Momin in the movies, and we know Vader will rise from the flames and take the architect out. How, however, remains to be seen, but after toying with Vader and teasing a reunion with Padme, expect brutal revenge to be served in a most unforgiving fashion.