Today saw the release of issue #38 of the ongoing title Star Wars: Darth Vader Volume III from Marvel Comics. Below are my recap and thoughts on this installment, which is a tie-in with the current Star Wars: Dark Droids crossover event.
Darth Vader #38 begins with the titular Dark Lord of the Sith wiping out wave after wave of Scourge-infected battle droids aboard the Super Star Destroyer Executor. Meanwhile, Vader’s own droid assistants Zed and Ought-Six are attempting to override the flagship’s systems and reconfigure a kill-switch that can deactivate all the droids aboard the vessel, including themselves. As this is happening, five regular-sized Star Destroyers jump out of hyperspace around the Executor, there on the orders of Imperial Grand Vizier Mas Amedda to destroy Vader’s ship and everyone aboard, in an effort to prevent the Scourge virus from spreading even further among the Empire’s forces. But the admiral in charge of this fleet, a man named Corleque who has previously appeared only in the pages of this comic, once served under Admiral Piett, and decides to spare his former commander’s life by rescuing him before destroying the SSD. This proves to be a fatal mistake, as once Corleques infantrymen (and accompanying KX-series security droids) board the Executor, they are immediately overrun by the Dark Droids. Long story short, they bring the virus back to Corleque’s ship, while Vader’s droids manage to activate the kill switch.
So in an ironic turn of events, Piett is forced to destroy Corleque’s Star Destroyer instead of the other way around, while Vader returns to Mustafar along with his now-deactivated droids in order to have them repaired. He also stops by the mystical being known as Eye of Webbish Bog (last seen in the 2022 Star Wars: Revelations one-shot) to figure out what his next move should be, and the Eye basically tells him he needs to assassinate Emperor Palpatine like Sheev himself once did to his old master, Darth Plagueis. The cliffhanger ending here reveals that Zed has carried the Scourge virus back to Mustafar, and is using it to reactivate the old Techno Union droid factory on the lava planet, along with a fearsome Octuptarra tri-droid left over from the Clone Wars. It’s a great tease for what Vader will have to contend with in the next issue, but I’m more curious about how these events will reverberate in the already-tense relationship between the Galactic Empire’s two Sith Lords. I honestly think writer Greg Pak is doing a pretty terrific job of tying in the Darth Vader comic with the Dark Droids event, and artist Raffaele Ienco’s work is going a long way into making that effort a success as well. My one big question right now is, how are the sentient organic beings of the galaxy going to ensure that a corruption like this never happens again with their droid workforce? I guess we’ll have to keep reading Dark Droids to find out.
Star Wars: Darth Vader #38 is available now wherever comic books are sold.