You’d think the internet would be talking about Rey and Star Wars comics this week thanks to the release of IDW’s Forces of Destiny: Rey comic, inspired by the female-focused animated series. Instead, it’s because of Marvel’s Darth Vader comic, and it’s for some weird reasons.
Image: Marvel Comics: Darth Vader #10 cover art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Francesco Mattina.
This week’s Darth Vader #10 – written by Charles Soule, with art from Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini and David Curiel alongside lettering by Joe Caramagna – is the culmination of the series’ current arc, which has seen Attack of the Clones‘ Jedi librarian Jocasta Nu return to the Jedi Temple to retrieve information about Force-sensitive children, only to encounter the wrath of Darth Vader himself. This week, the two duel, as Vader (who’s been instructed by his master to bring Jocasta in alive) is needled by the elderly Jedi after she finds out both his purpose and his true identity: Anakin Skywalker. And this, weirdly enough, is where Rey has come into discussions of the issue.
Darth Vader #10 interior art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini and David Curiel, lettering by Joe Caramagna.
Jocasta rails at Anakin for his betrayal of the Order, but gives him a warning: Even if she dies, even if Vader’s quest to stamp out the Jedi succeeds, the Force will live on, will reach out to new “vessels”, and instil in them the power to connect to this mystical energy. She adds that it’s already happening, and someone like Anakin – himself born out of the living Force – should be able to sense that anyway.
That conversation has gone on to spark a flurry of articles that this is the “explanation” for how Rey, despite The Last Jedi‘s revelation of her having no biological connection to a famous character such as Obi-Wan or any of the Skywalkers, could manifest the ability to use the Force. That the Force has “selected” her as a vessel for it, framing it almost like an artificial selection – like fate – rather than a natural manifestation. Except, this isn’t really new, or even really an explanation for how Rey can wield the power she does. It’s just… sort of how the Force has always worked?
The Force is an energy field that, as Yoda tells us in Empire Strikes Back, binds everything and everyone in the galaxy together. Then, the prequels told us, there’s a biological aspect in the form of Midi-chlorians – something everyone has, but just happens to appear in greater quantities in some beings, a random factor of nature. Anyone can feel the Force, regardless of if they’re linked to some great legacy, or if they’re a nobody (like a Jakku orphan, or a Canto Bight stable sweep), because it’s in every living thing.
That’s what Jocasta’s talking about in Darth Vader #10, rather than specific, fated individuals such as Luke and Leia, or the unborn Rey. Try as Vader and Palpatine might to extinguish the light of the Jedi, there will always be people out there with the capacity to connect to the ever-present Force, people who will turn to the light side and follow in the fallen Jedi Order’s path. This isn’t a new thing, nor is it a specific “choosing” of a future character like Rey. It’s just… the Force.
The Star Wars saga’s meditations on fate and destiny, through the specific lens of the Skywalker family, have lead to a weirdly elitist obsession among certain fans, arguing who can and cannot use the Force. Part of why the mystery of Rey’s parentage blew up the way it did was out of an assumption that she must be related to someone important – otherwise, surely, how can she be so strong in the Force, right? That’s something The Last Jedi takes to task, not just by torpedoing the widely-speculated origins of Rey with something so completely banal, but with the revelation of the Force-sensitive stable worker at the very end of the film. The message, a beautiful one, is clear: The Force can work in mysterious ways, but it’s something that is accessible to everyone, not just prophesised bloodlines such as the Skywalker family. Anyone can use it, and anyone can be a hero.
Darth Vader #10 doesn’t provide answers about Rey any more than it needs to, or any more than Star Wars at large has already explained, despite what you may have read online. And that’s, well, sort of the point. You don’t need an explanation for why someone, Rey or otherwise, can use the Force – the Star Wars galaxy is filled with luminous beings, ones that are not defined by their crude matter.