It is revealed in two separate comics – Star Wars: Darth Vader and Shadow of Vader’s Castle – that Anakin is haunted by how he killed Younglings.
Even knowing his destiny in the Star Wars canon, it was hard to imagine that Palpatine’s order for the newly christened Darth Vader to kill every Jedi in the Jedi Temple would actually include the slaughter of Younglings in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Even as the former Jedi trudged menacingly towards the young Padawans, it still seemed impossible he would actually do the deed, and when he ignited his lightsaber in front of them, the look of utmost surprise and sheer horror on their faces easily mirrored what those in the audience felt.
The descent of the man formerly known as Anakin Skywalker into darkness may have seemed too abrupt for many Star Wars fans, but the latest issues of two separate comics reveal that what might have appeared to be a seamless transition to the Dark Side was anything but for the recent Sith recruit.
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The first issue of Star Wars Adventures: Shadow of Vader’s Castle by Cavan Scott and Francesco Francavilla contains a flashback of Darth Vader landing on Mustafar for the first time to swiftly end the Separatist movement by killing Viceroy Gunray and the other Separatist leaders. There, the young Sith Lord begins to hallucinate as a result of the toxic fumes emanating from the fiery planet’s lava lakes. What he sees is undoubtedly impacted by the heinous act immediately preceding this one: the murder of innocent Jedi Younglings.
These severe hallucinations manifest as fumes that take the shape of hideous versions of Anakin’s former friends and allies, including Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn and Mace Windu. What they say to Vader proves that the Sith Lord is haunted by the fact that he killed Younglings: “What have you done, Skywalker?” and “What have you become?” The fact that these so-called “shadows of the mind” are said to convey the innermost fears and doubts of the infected individual further verifies that these are the inner thoughts of Palpatine’s newest apprentice – his own shame and regret speaking through phantoms.
Meanwhile, in Star Wars: Darth Vader #7 by Greg Pak and Raffaele Ienco, a now masked and armored Vader is banished to Mustafar following the events of The Empire Strikes Back for defiantly punishing those who had hidden Luke from him. Unable to leave the fiery planet, Vader is forced to reminisce on the time he slew Viceroy Gunray and the other Separatist leaders there years before. Vader’s true feelings are made abundantly clear when he remembers reporting to Palpatine about how the Younglings had been deal with, his face filled with utter grief.
Later, as he cuts down the Separatists on Mustafar in another memory, above him stand the saddened ghosts of the Younglings he murdered, making it appear as though they are a part of him. While Vader’s heartless murder of children felt unbelievable to many fans at the time of the original movie, the comics are doing a great job of taking this tricky Star Wars detail and using Darth Vader‘s past and present to show that it was a decision which haunted him before and after he made it, hinting at the seam of goodness that would eventually lead to Anakin’s rebirth.
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