WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Darth Vader #25 by Charles Soule, Daniele Orlandini, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Dono Sanchez-Almara, Cam Smith, Eric Arciniega, David Curiel and VC’s Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
In Star Wars lore, the concept of the Chosen One has been very controversial. In the later stories, folks who were said to be up for the mantle ranged from Luke Skywalker to Rey, but as we all know this tale originated with young Anakin Skywalker on Tattooine.
The messiah comparison, a la Christianity's Jesus Christ, was apparent, as his mother, Shmi, experienced a virgin pregnancy, immaculately conceiving the boy without a father. Of course, he would turn to the Dark Side and become Darth Vader, but the circumstances of his birth has been a mystery fans have debated since 1999's The Phantom Menace. The final issue of Marvel's current Darth Vader run, however, finally sheds light on who exactly is Anakin's "father," and it's a very familiar face.
When we learned of Darth Plagueis, also known as "The Wise," in Revenge of the Sith, his apprentice Palpatine (Darth Sidious) told Anakin that his mentor could manipulate the midichlorians (the life force of the universe) to control life and death itself. This is what lured Anakin to the Dark Side, as such a talent could allow someone to heal and even resurrect people. Since then, the going speculation has been that Plagueis used the Force to manipulate midichlorians and impregnate Shmi years later, creating the Chosen One -- not to be a savior, but a destroyer.
Instead of bringing balance to the Force, conspiracy theorists believed that Anakin was mystically engineered to tip the balance of power from the Jedi to the Sith Order. In Darth Vader #25, we now see how much credence that holds, although the master manipulator isn't Plagueis, but Palpatine himself.
As Vader goes through a portal into the afterlife on Mustafar, he meets ghosts of old, reliving the past, present and future. He walks through life as a young Anakin again, and then journeys through meaningful and life-altering experiences as the Jedi who fell from grace. In revisiting his early days, though, he sees Shmi, and the person who's manipulating her pregnancy is Palpatine, all with a sinister smile on his face.
Now, we could chalk this up to the Dark Side of the Force playing mind games with Vader because he knows Palpatine views him as a weapon, but in this realm, as he traverses space and time, we clearly see every incident has come to pass. This isn't a dream, it's a place of fact and history as we witness Vader's experiences across all Star Wars movies and the various animated series (evidenced by the appearance of Ahsoka Tank). In fact, he even pierces the veil of the future, leaving a philosophy for Kylo Ren to "kill the past" and join the Dark Side.
So it stands to reason what he's seeing are indeed the circumstances that led to Shmi becoming pregnant, and it also confirms how long Palpatine has been monitoring him, using him as a pawn. Since Qui-Gon Jinn brought the kid to Coruscant to train, the soon-to-be Emperor took a vested interest in him off the bat. Now it all makes sense, because Palpatine immediately knew this was the instrument of destruction he seeded from thousands of miles away, across the galaxy.
This is all but confirmed when Vader meets the specters of Palpatine and Obi-Wan Kenobi in the afterlife. Before Palpatine uses Force lightning to destroy Obi-Wan, a voice whispers to Vader, "I am your father," as he looks at both men. We know Obi-Wan's not the dad, but deep down, Vader recognizes he's been more of a father figure to him than the villain who helped create him. It's no coincidence they're juxtaposed, standing next to each other, finally answering the question fans have asked for nearly two decades. He may not have been his physical dad, but Palpatine doctored events so Anakin would rise up as Vader.