Comic Review – A New Splinter Faction Rises Within the Ranks of the Empire in “Star Wars: Darth Vader” #42

Last week saw the release of issue #42 in the third volume of Star Wars: Darth Vader from Marvel Comics, and below are my brief recap and thoughts on this installment.

Darth Vader #42 begins at the Imperial Palace on Coruscant, where Grand Vizier Mas Amedda is hesitant to report back to Emperor Palpatine about his failure to eliminate the title Dark Lord of the Sith. During the events of the recently completed Star Wars: Dark Droids crossover, Vader acquired the power to control other cyborgs like himself, and that quite useful ability has carried over to this issue, unbeknownst to Amedda and Palpatine. But here’s where my lingering question from the aftermath of Dark Droids comes up pretty much immediately– what efforts are both the Empire and the Rebel Alliance putting forth to ensure that nothing like the Scourge ever happens again? It seems like the answer, rather surprisingly, is “not much,” as evidenced by the subsequent plot of this comic.

Regardless, writer Greg Pak then cuts to the droid-run settlement Zee-Nine City Seven (first seen in these pages way back in issue #13) where our old– young?– friend Enric Pryde (actor Richard E. Grant’s character from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) makes his very first chronological appearance in the canon. It seems then-Lieutenant Pryde is having trouble maintaining control of the Empire’s hold on this sector due to a lack of resources and troops, and this problem is exacerbated by the arrival of the so-called M.A.R. (Machine-Augmented Rebels) Corps of Alliance soldiers. But fortunately for Pryde, Darth Vader has a vested interest in collecting as many skilled cyborgs as he can, so he shows up, frees Enric from captivity, and sets about corrupting the M.A.R. troopers to his own designs.

But the soldiers manage to fight back against Vader’s implants, so he and his droid assistants take them to the lava planet Mustafar– home of Vader’s castle– to experiment on them further. That’s when Administrator Sly Moore shows up and reveals that she has created a new splinter faction fighting against the emperor, called the Schism Imperial, and she shockingly wants Vader to join. We learned earlier in the issue that Palpatine has put Moore in charge of taking down his apprentice in the wake of Mas Amedda’s failure, but it seems that Sly has had quite enough of the emperor’s “caprice,” as she claims. So she invites our Dark Lord of the Sith to participate in this little insurrection, and that’s our cliffhanger ending for this month. I suspect either Moore is lying and is using this supposed coup as a way to manipulate Vader, OR Vader will put an end to Moore’s uprising and that’s how he’ll get back into Palpatine’s good graces prior to the beginning of Return of the Jedi. Either way, Pak is setting up an intriguing political triangle here, and I’m very curious to see where it’s all headed. As a bonus, artist Adam Gorham’s work is really effective, and I’m loving the inclusion of Pryde as a character of interest. I hope both of them stick around past the end of this arc!

Star Wars: Darth Vader #42 is available now wherever comic books are sold.

Mike Celestino
Mike serves as Laughing Place's lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly "Who's the Bossk?" Star Wars podcast. He's been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.