In the eyes of both his enemies and his allies, Darth Vader was seen as being beyond comprehension, and the Sith Lord was content to keep it that way.
Anakin Skywalker’s tragic transformation into Darth Vader is the inciting incident of the entire Star Wars franchise, but it’s a story that many within the Star Wars universe don’t know. Amid the many galaxy-changing events that unfolded during the fall of the Galactic Republic, the true nature of Anakin’s fate slipped through the cracks. Many were left to assume that the renowned war hero was one of the many Jedi that had perished during Order 66.
After almost any trace of his former life was wiped off the face of the galaxy, Vader essentially came out of nowhere as far as the citizens of the newly-formed Galactic Empire were concerned. It allowed the newly-minted Sith Lord to establish his new identity without the legacy of Anakin publicly hanging over him. As outlined in Marvel’s Star Wars comics, Darth Vader used the mystery of his identity to his advantage, cementing his role as the Emperor’s enforcer and establishing himself as an unstoppable, unknowable force in the galaxy.
During the Clone Wars, Anakin’s fearless nature and connection with the much-beloved Padme Amidala made him a well-known figure throughout the Republic. Following Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side, however, he and his new master Palpatine went to great lengths to sever any connection between Vader and his former life. For Vader, this was a tactic meant to ensure that he never had to confront the crippling guilt he felt for betraying those closest to him. For Palpatine, it was an opportunity to mold the Chosen One into the ultimate embodiment of the Sith by eradicating any lingering traces of the Jedi he once was.
While many within the ranks of the Imperial military had heard rumors that a “Lord Vader” had overseen the attack on the Jedi Temple during Order 66, they weren’t officially introduced to him before he suddenly appeared at the Emperor’s side. Even Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, who’d formed something resembling a friendship with Anakin during the Clone Wars, didn’t recognize his former comrade when he first encountered Vader in Darth Vader #5 (from Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, David Curiel and VC’s Joe Caramagna).
At first, many Imperial officers refused to treat Vader with respect, resenting the idea that someone they saw as an outsider had somehow become the Emperor’s second-in-command. A select few even tried to have Vader killed, giving the Sith Lord the perfect opportunity to assert his dominance. After uncovering the conspiracy against him, Vader summoned the highest-ranking officers in the Imperial military and executed five of them at random in Darth Vader #12 (by Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini, David Curiel, and Joe Caramagna) establishing his power and preferred methods to the assembled officers.
Vader was even more mysterious and terrifying to the average citizen of the galaxy than he was to the Imperial officers who came to know him. Due to Imperial propaganda, the people of the former Galactic Republic knew nothing about the fall of the Jedi Order or Vader’s role in it. However, the galaxy would quickly become familiar with the Sith Lord after he began his quest to kill the remaining Jedi. Following a devastating attack on Mon Cala, Vader’s name became known throughout the galaxy, as did his role as the embodiment of the Emperor’s will.
Unable to live with the pain of losing Padme, Vader actively cultivated his growing reputation as a cold, inhuman monster. Anyone unfortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the scarred face hidden behind his mask would be killed outright, and those who suspected that he and Anakin were one and the same where terminated. While there were moments where Vader’s humanity could be coaxed out, as shown in his recent alliance with Padme’s body double and handmaiden Sabé, the pull of the Dark Side always found a way drag him away from the light.
In the eyes of both his enemies and his allies, Darth Vader was seen as being beyond comprehension, and the Sith Lord was content to keep it that way. After having condemned everything he held dear through his own choices, Vader saw himself as someone unworthy of the name he once held. This made him willing to do anything to ensure that any and all evidence that Anakin Skywalker even existed was purged alongside the Jedi.
Drew Kopp is a Comics Features Writer for CBR who holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. As a die-hard fan of comic books, fantasy/sci-fi literature, and video games, he loves nothing more than injecting his love of storytelling into his writing, and he also loves nothing more than writing about all things nerdy. When he isn’t busy obsessively theorizing over comic book plots or drooling over the next big indie game, he can be found writing about those topics.