SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Darth Vader #14, by Charles Soule, Daniele Orlandini, Giuseppe Camuncoli, David Curiel and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
In the Star Wars universe, a major turning point in the Empire’s plans to take over, well, everything came with the Sith eliminating the Jedi via Order 66. This was seen on-screen in Revenge of the Sith, with the Clone Army (who would go on to become Stormtroopers) stealthily killing their Jedi allies as part of Palpatine’s plans to form the Galactic Empire, with Anakin Skywalker’s new allegiance to the Dark Side shaping him as the Emperor’s right-hand man.
In short, Order 66 extinguished the Light of all Jedi in the galaxy. Well, almost all of them. We know Master Yoda fled to Dagobah, Obi-Wan Kenobi went to Tattooine to look over Luke Skywalker, and Jedi librarian Jocasta Nu survived, too. (Well, temporarily until Vader killed her in Darth Vader #10)
Now, writer Charles Soule and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli have added to this list, and in the process introduced fans to a new, secret Jedi Order.
Last issue, Vader arrived on the defiant oceanic planet of Mon Cala to intimidate and get them firmly obedient to the Emperor. However, King Lee-Char was being helped in these negotiations by a mysterious robed Jedi residing in a secret location on-planet. Shockingly, this Jedi recognized Vader as the “Chosen One” Anakin Skywalker, who betrayed his people to become Palpatine’s servant.
Issue #14 goes deeper into this Jedi’s identity, revealing him to be Master Barr, a survivor of Order 66. Barr belongs to the Iktotchi, an alien species with a humanoid face and horns that run downward from the head (i.e.: Saesee Tiin, who fought alongside Anakin in Attack of the Clones, and whom Palpatine killed when he faced Mace Windu’s squadron). The thing is, Barr isn’t alone because he’s already started a Jedi academy of his own.
In teaching his Padawans about the war, Barr pulls up archives detailing Skywalker’s fall from grace, particularly focusing on his slaughter of younglings at the Jedi Temple. He also points out key information about Palpatine, Count Dooku and how the Sith manipulated the Republic from the inside. The students appear to be quite rash and want to engage the Emperor’s troops, but Barr quickly warns them of Vader’s power and that they need to exercise caution. When asked why he didn’t reveal the truth about Vader being a Jedi so as to undermine Palpatine and destabilize the Empire, Barr indicates that Palpatine knows how to spin lies and that politics aside, such a revelation would be too little, too late.
As they soak in Barr’s wisdom, his Order learns that the Jedi have to adopt a new approach so as to not repeat the mistakes of past. He makes it clear that they need to analyze all the angles, eschewing the tunnel-vision that first allowed Palpatine’s rise to power.
At this point, it’s obvious Barr acknowledges the Jedi were a bit arrogant and wants to rectify that with his class. What’s all the more interesting here is that his philosophies actually mirror what we saw Mark Hamill’s Luke try to explain to Daisy Ridley’s Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi — that the Jedi and Sith, and overall balance between the Light and Dark, are “relics of a lost age.” Given that his students, whose background stories we don’t know yet, haven’t been confirmed as Force-users and are actually wielding blasters and guns, it seems they’re either more radical and militant, or in the very early stages of tutelage.
Barr’s clearly dispensing sage advice for a new generation, biding his time until they’re ready to rebel. He convinces the king to strike by flooding the surface of his compound using Mon Cala’s leviathans, thus drowning the Empire’s army and plunging Vader to the bottom of the ocean. Nonetheless, given that in film and cartoon canon, Barr’s charges never popped up, his school may end up being a short-lived one once Vader resurfaces.
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