The best Star Wars comic will be becoming a Force ghost later this year. The end of the series has been planned all along, but still: Nooooooooooo… In an interview with IGN, writer Kieron Gillen says that he always had a finite run in mind for the comic book featuring the Dark Lord of the Sith:
IGN Comics: So what the heck is going on? Why are you leaving Darth Vader?
Kieron Gillen: Or Darth Vader leaving me? [Laughs] No, it was a situation where, you know, we've always said all the way through, from Darth Vader #1, that this was a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. And we kind of looked where we were after Vader Down, and we realised we were probably actually nearer to the end than we thought we were. And it was a situation where we were like, "OK, it's better to actually end this story in a way which we think is the most effective. We don't want to pad it out extraneously." That was the kind of thing, we were like, "Oh yeah, this is the end of this particular story," in which case it's a natural place for Vader to move on.
IGN: I feel like a lot of people were under the impression — even though you never said this — that you were going to leave off just before the opening of Empire Strikes Back. That's not the case though, right?
Gillen: Oh, no. I mean, I don't really want to talk about the specific timeframe, but I always described the story in interviews as the story of how Darth Vader recovers his position post-A New Hope. You know, he's arguably responsible for the biggest disaster of all time — or at least, the only person responsible still alive - and by Empire he's in a much more powerful state. We get Vader in an incredibly powerful position by the end of the story. So definitely Vader, by the end of the story, is the man we meet in Empire.
One of the best parts of the Vader series has been its portrayal of high-level political gamesmanship within the upper echelons of the Empire. The series began with Emperor Palpatine berating Vader after the destruction of the first Death Star and has shown the main character scheming a way back to power and his own personal agenda. Last week's issue #20 kicked off the final story arc "End of Games" and features a great reckoning between Palpatine and his right-hand enforcer...
...including a sequence that explains how the wrinkled Sith master figured out how to save his apprentice's life.
The Darth Vader book has introduced fun new characters into Star Wars lore and shown important moments in the main character's life, all in starkly gripping fashion that's also managed to be grimly humorous at times. While it's hard to hear that this great series is ending, it also means that the Darth Vader comic won't ever have a terrible latter period where readers long for its better early days. Barring a major cock-up in these last few issues, Lord Vader's going out strong and fearsome, just like he's supposed to.