SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Darth Vader #13, by Charles Soule, Daniele Orlandini, Giuseppe Camuncoli, David Curiel and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
Until the prequel trilogy, the backstory of one of history’s most iconic fictional villains, Darth Vader, was largely left to our imaginations. Depending on which Star Wars fans you ask, perhaps it should have stayed that way.
Nevertheless, those films – particularly Revenge of the Sith – showed us exactly how the young Anakin Skywalker became corrupted by the Dark Side of the Force, transforming him from a brave Jedi Knight to a Dark Lord of the Sith. In Darth Vader #13, though, we see Anakin’s climactic battle with his former master Obi-Wan Kenobi play out from a different, yet intriguing perspective (from a certain point-of-view, if you will).
As the issue begins, we see the familiar, prequel-era face of Obi-Wan, who’s clutching the hilt of his lightsaber and standing tall on the rugged, lava-splattered terrain of Mustafar. “It’s over, Anakin,” he shouts. “I have the high ground!”
However, it isn’t the yellowing, bloodshot eyes of Anakin that are staring back at the confident, yet heartbroken Jedi Master; instead, we see Obi-Wan’s silhouette reflected in the visor of the unmistakable, jet-black helmet of Darth Vader – a clear deviation from how the events of Revenge of the Sith actually transpired. Not only that but when we pan out, we see that Vader isn’t just in full costume but also in possession of his blood-red lightsaber, which he just recently obtained in writer Charles Soule’s first arc on the title – an arc that takes place after the battle on Mustafar.
All things considered, it’s fairly easy to determine that we aren’t witnessing a true flashback, and as the sequence continues to unfold, we witness something of a role reversal from Episode III. Rather than Anakin, it’s Obi-Wan who’s left maimed and slumped over just inches away from where the rocky hills meet the river of lava. Then, as the flames begin to engulf the defeated Jedi’s entire body, charring him beyond recognition, we see Darth Vader looking on with a sense of accomplishment as he admires his heinous handiwork.
When we turn the page, though, color artist David Curiel’s blazing-hot palette of yellows, oranges and reds is replaced with cool hues of silver, grey and black. No longer are we on Mustafar but rather Darth Vader’s private quarters, where we see the Sith Lord being summoned by Emperor Palpatine, which seems to awaken him from what was clearly nothing more than a sick fantasy scenario.
Still, even if it was only in his head, for a brief moment, Darth Vader felt what it was like to have the high ground.