Comic Review – The Dark Lord of the Sith Joins the Schism Imperial in “Star Wars: Darth Vader” (2020) #43

Today saw the release of issue #43 in Volume III of Marvel Comics’ ongoing Star Wars: Darth Vader title, and below are my brief recap and thoughts on this installment.

In the continued aftermath of the Star Wars: Dark Droids crossover event, Darth Vader (2020) #43 begins on Coruscant at the Imperial Security Bureau headquarters, where Sub-Administrator Sly Moore has corralled several Imperial officers who have recently had unfortunate run-ins with Darth Vader, plus one who’s just guilty of embezzlement. Moore demonstrates her power by executing the latter, then enlists the three others into her “Schism Imperial” splinter faction of the Galactic Empire. Then writer Greg Pak and artist Adam Gorham cut to a grimy industrial planet where once-Governor Tauntaza has now been demoted to doing manual labor. It’s a month after her meeting with Sly Moore, and now she’s approached by Lord Vader with his M.A.R. Corps team of corrupted Rebel Alliance cyborgs.

Tauntaza easily fights off the hybroids, but going one-on-one against the Dark Lord of the Sith proves too much of a challenge. That’s when Sub-Administrator Moore appears again and informs the ex-governor that Vader has joined the Schism Imperial. But Tauntaza questions Vader’s ability to take out Emperor Palpatine, considering the latter has always had more power than the former. There’s a brief moment where one of the cyborgs begins to break loose from his counterprogramming, but Vader uses the Force to correct that, and suddenly we find ourselves at a rebel base in the Outer Rim. An unnamed Alliance general (at first I thought this was intended to be Jan Dodonna, but a quick check of Wookieepedia reminded me that he died during the 2015 run of Star Wars comics set between Episodes IV and V) has enlisted Kitster and his companions (last seen in Darth Vader #25 through 27) to rebuild the Death Machine once commanded by Tauntaza.

Enter Darth Vader and the M.A.R. Corps once again, who take control of the machine alongside Tauntaza herself, commanding a scientist to activate it on the otherwise uninhabited world, eliminating the incoming rebel reinforcements and providing Lord Vader with a canister of “life energy”– though it isn’t made clear by the cliffhanger ending what exactly he plans to do with it. I really dug this issue, and it was great getting a peek at the inner workings of the ISB outside of its appearances on Andor. I do have to imagine Vader is playing both sides when it comes to his collusion with Sly Moore, and I fully expect the other shoe to drop in upcoming issues. But all I can say for sure right now is that Pak and Gorham (who’s delivering dynamic, eye-catching artwork) have my attention and I’m excited to see where this all goes– could this so-called life energy actually provide Vader and company with an advantage against the Emperor? I bet we’ll find out soon enough.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #43 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.