In recent months I’ve been hoping that writer Greg Pak would bring his handmaiden saga to a conclusion sometime relatively soon in the pages of Star Wars: Darth Vader from Marvel Comics.
That doesn’t exactly happen in issue #32, released today, but the comic does reach a pretty momentous turning point in the ongoing story of these tenacious women from Naboo.
Darth Vader #32 begins on the planet Brentaal IV, where the handmaidens demand that their “sister” Sabé abandon her post at the Dark Lord’s side and join them to return home to Naboo. But just as Sabé seems prepared to reinforce her uneasy alliance with Vader, she is tackled by Dormé, and the handmaidens attach an anti-grav unit to her belt in an effort to fly her up to their ship waiting in-atmosphere. These anti-grav units had me wondering why Mandalorians rely on jetpacks that can so easily run out of fuel, but that’s neither here nor there. During their flight up to the ship, Sabé detaches the device and falls back to the planet’s surface, where Vader catches her with the Force. The handmaidens are naturally devastated by Sabé’s choice as they escape, but on the ground we see her planning with the Sith Lord to follow through on their crusade against the Skakoan nationalist Jul Tambor. Then the remainder of this issue involves Sabé enacting a plan that at first seems to be pitting both sides in this conflict against each other, but then turns out to be a decisive victory for the Empire that simultaneously assures not too many lives are lost in the process.
With Tambor defeated, Sabé tells Vader that she chose to stay with him so that she could continue to work alongside the Empire in the way that she felt Padmé may have, while allowing her sisters to go about their lives. As she walks away from the discussion, she also reminds Vader that she holds the trump card of his secret identity as fallen Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, which sends the Dark Lord of the Sith into a furious rage that crumbles his Star Destroyer’s hallway. It’s a tantalizing cliffhanger ending to a good, dramatic issue that simplifies things for Vader, Sabé, and the Naboo handmaidens, while still not bringing this arc entirely to a close. Next month’s cover of Darth Vader depicts Sabé in one of her Queen’s double outfits holding Vader’s helmet, so it appears that her entanglements with the Dark Lord will continue at least for another issue or two in this series. I guess I don’t mind it as much now that the other handmaidens are out of the picture, but I still think it’s time for the Sith Lord’s misadventures to move onto something else. Right now it feels like the only blank left to fill in is Sabé’s ultimate fate (will she live or die, continue to serve Vader or return to her sisters?), and I’m crossing my fingers that Pak doesn’t drag that resolution out for too much longer.
Star Wars: Darth Vader #32 is available now wherever comic books are sold.