The first year of Darth Vaders reign

Anakin Skywalker is the focal point of the George Lucas-era Star Wars films. He is the chosen one, with his son Luke Skywalker eventually serving as the catalyst to turning back to the light side of the force. 

Looking at the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series, we see a relentless Vader who’s yet to truly let go of his past. By the end of it, we see Darth Vader becoming the calm and collected Sith lord we all know and love in the original trilogy. But what happened to him in the ten-year gap between Revenge of the Sith and Obi-Wan Kenobi? 

Stick the kettle on, grab a snack and let’s get straight into what happened during Darth Vaders’ first year. The following information is classed as canon and laid out in the Darth Vader 2017 Marvel comic series.

Credit: Marvel/Lucasfilm

Post-Revenge of the Sith

Anakin Skywalker has now been physically reborn as Darth Vader. Although he received the moniker straight after Mace Windus’s defeat, this is the first time we see Darth Vader physically embodied. There’s still conflict within Vader as he fights with his former self, a theme we’ll see throughout the next ten years and to a lesser extent beyond the events of Kenobi.

As Vaders sorrow swells into an uncontrollable rage against Palpatine for failing to save her as he promised, he slams the Emperor into the med bay wall and attempts in vain to force choke him. Palpatine explains that the death of Padmé had given Vader the gift of pain before shooting a barrage of force lightning at his new apprentice. 

Palpatine ends the conflict, empathizing with Vader that he’s had a rough few days. He also warns that if he touches him with the force again, he will finish what Kenobi could not.

As they both retired to watch a ceremonial burning of Jedi lightsabers on a balcony overlooking the Jedi temple, Palpatine explains how to make a crimson lightsaber crystal by reclaiming a fallen Jedis kyber crystal and making it bleed.

Creating a new lightsaber

A mission to the mid-rim river moon of Al’doleem sees Darth Vader hunting down Jedi Master Kirak Infil’a. This confrontation proved a harsh lesson in just how much power and flexibility Vader had lost as a result of his outdated cybernetics and life support suit.

After a number of setbacks and chases, Vader distracts Kirak Infil’a by destroying a water dam and putting innocent civilians in danger. As he force grabs the Jedi Masters lightsaber, he force choaks him whilst flooding a whole city.

With the fallen Jedi’s kyber crystal in hand, Vader boards his ship and is tasked with revisiting Mustafar to bleed his kyber Crystal. Specifically, Vader was tasked with finding a dark-side Locus, a concentration of dark-side energy in the form of a shrine to help Vader get the job done.

Once the Locus was found, Vader proceeded to dismantle the Jedi lightsaber and extract the kyber crystal. His initial efforts of corruption failed as the kyber crystal flung Vader back in an act of resistance.

Vader then experienced a vision where he turned back to the light, travel to Coruscant, killed the Emperor, and asked for Obi-Wan Kenobi’s forgiveness. As Obi-Wan calls Vader by his true name, Anakin, he snaps out of the vision and rejected everything about it.

Returning to the kyber crystal, Vader states “this is all there is” and pours all of his hate, pain, and rage into it. As a storm forms around the cave, Vader dramatically corrupts the crystal and returns to his master to report the sinister news.

Taking charge of the Inquisitorus 

Shortly after Vader returns to Coruscant, he receives reports of an intruder in the Jedi temple archives. After confronting and toying with the crimson-bladed invader, Palpatine arrives to tell Vader that this intruder is in fact the Grand Inquisitor and head of the Inquisitorus.

He then goes on to explain that a series of Jedi and force sensitives chose to become Inquisitors when captured to save their own lives by converting to the dark side of the force. Training in the works, the old lair of Darth Sidious during the prequel trilogy, Vader began to oversee the training of Inquisitors alongside the Grand Inquisitor.

Vader soon found the Inquisitorus hit list of remaining Jedi. This led to the hunt for Jedi librarian Jocasta Nu due to her secret knowledge of the Sith that isn’t recorded in the Jedi archives. She returned to the Jedi temple to try and secure a list of force sensitives, which turned into a confrontation with the Grand Inquisitor and eventually Vader. 

Jocasta Nu ended up being cornered by Vader, which is when she took the opportunity to tell everyone present that Vader is none other than fallen Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker. After also being told that Palpatine would only hunt down the force sensitives to create more dark agents of the Sith, Vader killed Nu, his clone troopers and destroyed the record.

Defining his authority

As Vader began showing up as the Emperor’s right hand during official courts and missions, higher-ranking imperial officials grew jealous and annoyed. For most, Vader appeared out of nowhere with incredible power and favour granted by The Emperor, which didn’t sit well with Imperials who worked hard to climb the ranks.

Whilst on a Jedi hunting mission to Cabarria with the Ninth Sister, Vader becomes aware of a bounty put on his head by a member of the Emperor’s office on Coruscant. He challenges the Emperor on this, thinking Palpatine has paid for the bounty as part of his training. After Sidious explains that he doesn’t test, but teaches, Vader returns to his quarters to meditate on his masters’ words.

Upon his return, Vader states that he wishes to be publicly recognized and to show the Empire the consequences of questioning his authority. The Emperor agreed and summoned the elite officers of the Imperial Military to clarify a new hierarchy. Vader was formally introduced as his emissary, who spoke with his voice and whose commands would need to be obeyed as if by the Emperor himself. 

After his introduction, Vader summons elite officers Corin Ferro, Zorta Bingan, Joon Strephi, Tomas Azoras and known anti-Vader officer Colonel Barokki. He informs them that the two attempts on his life have been made from within the Officer Corps and that he had his suspicions of who was responsible.

In an act that would define the rule of Vader, he stated that for every assassination attempt that he would surely survive, five random officers will be picked for execution. From this moment on Vader ruled with fear and an iron fist, serving as the Commander-in-Chief for the Imperial Military, although he never received an official rank.

That rounds up the first year of Darth Vader’s reign. Stay tuned for more Darth Vader before the events of the Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series.