Newly anointed Sith Lord Darth Vader has reached the end of his hunt for one of the few still-living Jedi who managed to escape Order 66. To sit by his master’s right hand and begin his rule of the galaxy, Vader must defeat Jedi Master Kirak Infil’a, take his lightsaber and dominate the kyber crystal within. Let’s see how this confrontation gets started and find out if it’s any good.
Vader sets his sights on a Jedi who’s avoided Order 66…a Jedi Master who’s long lived in seclusion…a Jedi more powerful than any Vader has faced before…
Mild spoilers ahead!
What’s the skinny?
Darth Vader has arrived to the Mid-Rim of the galaxy, on the river moon of Al’doleem. On this remote moon atop a mountain lies a sacred Jedi testing ground and within it, Jedi Master Kirak Infil’a. In this sacred place Master Infil’a has resided since taking the barash vow, a vow in which one swears to refrain from activities related to the Order and completely disengages from anything but the Force.
Vader knows that Master Infil’a was a Jedi long before he himself joined the Order. To add to the danger of this confrontation, Master Infil’a didn’t take part in diplomacy, training or research as a Jedi. His sole purpose within the order was to fight. Before Vader can reach his target he’ll have to navigate the challenges of the mountain, designed to test generations of Jedi before him. If Vader can make it past the many obstacles and traps before him, he’ll have to face a Jedi who may be more powerful that any he’s ever faced.
What’s the catch?
Last issue we saw Vader’s ship taking out clone V-wings, so it was a surprise to then see his ship struggle so mightily with a few fairly small pieces of metal sculpture art.
Master Infil’a has several easy opportunities to seriously injure or kill Vader, the creature who has openly admitted to killing nearly all the Jedi, yet he passes on all of them. What gives?
Is it good?
Giuseppe Camuncoli continues to impress me. I took particular enjoyment in watching Vader’s armor and cape gradually degrade as the story progressed. Vader faces many different challenges on his way up the mountain to face the Jedi Master. If you pay close attention you’ll notice his cape getting shredded, the metal chain that holds it in place breaking, pieces of armor cracking and falling off and lastly the skeleton of his left leg prostheses becoming exposed.
Charles Soule introduced a new piece of canon to the Jedi Order in last week’s issue, The Barash Vow. We see the first known practitioner of this penance-like vow in the form of Jedi Master Infil’a. The character wasn’t what I was expecting and that’s not a bad thing. After seeing what the vow entailed, I expected a cookie cutter Jedi that lacked personality, exuded serenity and would speak in mysterious one liners. Instead we’re given a Jedi Master who’s not only powerful and insightful, but also excited at the prospect of combat with a skilled adversary.
There are several points during Vader’s confrontation with Infil’a where the Jedi Master could easily dispose of the Sith Lord and yet he doesn’t. It’s difficult to tell if this is due to arrogance or the desire for a better challenge from Master Infil’a. Regardless of the intent I found this aspect of the writing to be a bit confusing, especially considering that the Jedi Master is fully aware that Vader has murdered almost the entire Jedi Order. Confusion aside, I really enjoyed the pacing and action sequences of this issue. Every panel felt like it had purpose.
The Star Wars comics stand in the large shadow cast by the films and the pile of new books being released. Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli are creating stories that not only add depth of one of the most important characters in the Star Wars universe, but also build upon what we think we know about the Jedi and Sith. So while the fanbase at large may be focused on the films, these stories are helping push the comics to a place that will demand the attention of Star Wars fans everywhere. New canon isn’t just waiting for you on December 15th–it’s here now, and man is it awesome.