Marvel writer Greg Pak’s excellent run on Star Wars: Darth Vader continues today with volume 3, issue #10 of the series, pitting the Dark Lord of the Sith against a subspecies of the enormous space-dwelling creature known as summa-verminoth. The Lovecraftian monster first appeared in 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story exciting Kessel Run sequence, and at the end of last month’s issue Vader encountered its cousin on his way to discover Emperor Palpatine’s secrets on the planet Exegol from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Hitching a ride in the belly of Vader’s derelict starfighter is Ochi of Bestoon, the assassin who will later go on to murder Rey’s parent (this particular story is set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, so Ochi’s survival is pre-ordained). And throwing an additional monkey wrench in the Dark Lord’s quest is the arrival of three Star Destroyers and Palptaine’s Umbaran agent Sly Moore from Attack of the Clones. Yes, much like the other currently ongoing Star Wars titles from Marvel Comics, this series has satisfying ties to several different eras in the larger timeline of A Galaxy Far, Far Away.

More and Imperial Admiral Corleque send wave after wave of TIE fighters after Vader’s ship, as he’s run afoul of Palpatine’s orders and indeed appears primed to stumble upon the emperor’s secret cloning facility on the edge of known space. But ever the skilled pilot, Vader successfully takes down his previously friendly enemies and then endures a psychic attack from the summa-verminoth, suffering through visions of confrontations with his former master Obi-Wan Kenobi and son Luke Skywalker. There are some very cool moments here, particularly when dear old Darth is forced to withstand role-reversals of his lightsaber duels on Mustafar and Bespin. It seems the continuing theme of this comic is Vader facing his demons and being exposed to Palpatine’s true intentions, putting him in the proper vulnerable mindset for where we see the character end up in Return of the Jedi.

I think it probably goes without saying at this point that Greg Pak’s partnership with talented artist Rafaelle Ienco has been a fruitful one so far on Darth Vader, but I am starting to wonder just how long this current run can last, with the endpoint of Jedi not looking too far off in the distance. And considering the in-universe time gap between Episodes V and VI is shorter than the one between IV and V, I have similar questions about the future of Marvel’s other Star Wars titles as well. For those reasons I am extremely curious to find out where this series goes after this “Into the Fire” arc, how Vader will use his newfound information about Emperor Palpatine in the short term, and how these occurrences tie into the sure-to-be-imminent construction of the second Death Star.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #10 is available now wherever comic books are sold.