SPOILER WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Darth Vader #17, by Charles Soule, Daniele Orlandini, Giuseppe Camuncoli, David Curiel and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
Marvel Comics' Darth Vader continues to give readers deep insight into what drove the fallen Jedi, Anakin Skywalker, in his early days as Emperor Palpatine's right-hand man. This current arc from Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli elaborates on his history as an enforcer, quelling any uprising against the Empire.
In this case, it's all about subjugating Mon Cala, which has been invaded after Palpatine's Imperial Ambassador was killed in what seemed to be a sign of resistance. Well, as Vader raided on behalf of his boss, we soon found out a secret Jedi Order existed, led by the mysterious and conniving Master Ferren Barr.
However, in Darth Vader #17, we discover Barr really isn't a defender of the Light as we first assumed, and his methods are indeed extremist.
This issue picks up with Barr and his remaining student, Verla, executing Order 66 to trick Vader's army of clones into killing off the Inquisitors (aka the Empire's hit squad of former Jedi). The duo escape while the Inquisitors are annihilated, and Barr instructs Verla to go seek out Obi-Wan Kenobi or Yoda, as their relationship has come to an end.
She abides and Barr goes off a final mission: To kill Vader, who has now captured the Mon Cala king, Lee-Char, and is demanding the planet's surrender. Barr engages Vader and in their clash, we realize his plan was more sinister than first thought, and Barr's ways really aren't that of the Jedi. It turns out, he was the one who killed the Imperial Ambassador, all to lure Vader into this trap.
The revelation makes Lee-Char surrender Mon Cala, shocked at the measures Barr went to and how desperate he was to sacrifice the aquatic inhabitants in an act of war. The thing is, while Grand Moff Tarkin accepts the surrender, he still intends on bombing the planet. And so he does, as Vader and Barr continue their duel. Even Vader is stunned at what Barr did, the latter making it clear all he wanted was a shot at slaying the Emperor's general; something Vader indicates is based on pride (which is something the Jedi frowns upon).
Sadly, Barr shows no remorse for the mass death he's causing as he tells Vader this was the only way to isolate him in battle and stay off Palpatine's radar. Barr tries to console Lee-Char by saying the millions dying today will inspire trillions of rebels in the future -- something, admittedly, he's kind of right about -- but still, it's a price paid with a lot of blood. Barr (who's now hysterical) firmly believes these deaths on Mon Cala will spread like wildfire throughout the galaxy and encourage more people to rally to the Rebel Alliance. But as Lee-Char emphasizes, this makes him no more a terrorist institution than the Empire itself.
Eventually, Mon Cala is cut down, Lee-Char's imprisoned (which resulted in his death in Imperial incarceration), and Vader slaughters Barr. But before the 'Jedi' died, he did reveal what drove him to these actions. His precognitive powers foresaw Mon Cala's soldiers fighting with the rebels, as depicted in the original Star Wars trilogy and the new movies too, so he thought he was doing the right thing by setting up this genocide.
It wasn't a smart move though, because as much as it did motivate Mon Cala to fight on, it was steeped in betrayal as the ocean planet was already leaning toward the Rebel Alliance, ready to provide great resources. It's not often we agree with Vader, but he was definitely on point when he told Barr just before he struck him down, "You are no Jedi."