‘Star Wars’: We Learned the Intense Story Behind Darth Vader’s First Red Lightsaber

Darth Vader on Star Wars Rebels - Disney XD

Darth Vader on Star Wars Rebels | Disney XD

Marvel has had a ton of success with their line of Star Wars comics, all of which immediately became an official part of the Star Wars universe. In summer 2017, Marvel released the first edition of a new canon Star Wars comic titled Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith. The story follows Vader in the aftermath of his loss to Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar. In fact, the first issue even picks up in a familiar scene from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

Only six issues have been released to date, but a ton of new information has been learned that lets the fan inside the psyche of Darth Vader as he is truly molded into an evil Sith Lord by Emperor Palpatine. We picked out a handful of exciting revelations from the comic, including what Darth Vader had to do to get his very first red Sith lightsaber.

Darth Vader’s reaction to Padme’s death is given depth

Darth Vader is distress in front of an explosion.

Darth Vader reacts to Padme’s death. | Marvel Comics

The scene opens in the first issue on the newly pieced together Darth Vader, standing in front of the operating table in the room with Emperor Palpatine. He has just learned the revelation that Padme has died, and after his initial grief – shown in Revenge of the Sith with a cheesy “Nooooo!” – he turned his anger toward his master.

Vader used the Force to slam Darth Sidious against the wall, angry that he was unable to save her from death. Without Padme, what was this all for? His betrayal of the Jedi and loss to Obi-Wan, all of it? Palpatine, always the master manipulator, talked him down. He even convinced Vader that Padme’s death, while tragic, was ultimately a gift that the Sith Lord could use: pain.

After Vader chose to use that pain and accept what has happened, Palpatine quickly turned on him with his Force lightning. While Vader writhed in pain, his master taunted him for his loss to Kenobi and his lack of lightsaber.

“Now, I realize this has been a traumatic time for you,” said Palpatine. “But if you touch me with the Force again, I will finish what Kenobi could not.”

Palpatine challenged him immediately with a mission

Palpatine and Darth Vader

Palpatine sends Darth Vader on his first mission. | Marvel Comics

Immediately following that scene, Palpatine takes Vader to see what is going on outside on Coruscant. He explains the nature of the Sith lightsaber and why the blades are red.

“A red saber is no different than any other,” said Palpatine. “Except that it has been made to bleed. The crystal from any Jedi saber will do.”

Of course, Vader wouldn’t be allowed to simply take the kyber crystal from the lightsaber of a fallen Jedi — even though they were plentiful. A Sith lightsaber must be earned. Palpatine then sends Vader out on a mission, dropping him on a Mid Rim planet with instructions to find one of the remaining Jedi. Considering the outcome of Order 66, that was no easy task.

But first, Vader had to find a stolen spaceship and take it back without any sort of weapon to defend himself — other than the dark side of the Force. He was successful, and some research sent him after Jedi Master Kirkak Infil’a.

Vader’s suit was badly damaged in battle

Vader on the ground next to his broken suit.

Vader was briefly defeated in his battle against Infil’a. | Marvel Comics

Infil’a had not been active within the Jedi Order for years, and was unique in his position. According to the droid that did the research for Vader, he would pose a difficult task. “… He did not take part in diplomacy, training, or research. Apparently, Master Infil’a had precisely one purpose within the order. To fight.”

Vader would learn this first hand. Master Infil’a could feel what had happened throughout the galaxy with Order 66, and he also could feel Vader’s presence when he arrived on the river moon of Al’doleem. Infil’a and his sparring droid were waiting, and Darth Vader’s first confrontation with a Jedi Master after his battle with Kenobi did not go well.

Infil’a won the battle, severing one of Vader’s cybernetic legs and pushing him off the edge of a mountain. That would’ve been the end of Darth Vader had Infil’a not been arrogant, choosing to leave him to die on the ground rather than finishing the job himself.

Vader used his power in the dark side to rip parts from the sparring droid to fix his cybernetics, then went to track down Master Infil’a.

Vader brutally drowned a city because he could

Vader standing triumphantly holding a lightsaber

Darth Vader holds the lightsaber he took from a Jedi Master. | Marvel Comics

A broken Vader was no match for Infil’a, but he attacked him again anyway. The two did battle on top of a dam overlooking a city on the moon, with Infil’a still having the upper hand and landing several crucial blows. He even managed to taunt Vader for not having fled when he had the chance.

But toward the end of the fight, three armed guards arrived and fired warning shots at the two battling Force users. Vader used this moment to his advantage. While he wasn’t skilled enough to defeat Infil’a in combat on his own, Infil’a had a weakness that he did not: empathy.

Vader used the Force to pick up the three guards and throw them over the edge of the dam, falling to certain death. Infil’a focused all his energy to attempt to save the guards, but that only served to allow Vader to win the battle. In a final, crushing moment, Vader picked up Infil’a with the Force while using the dark side to violently shake the dam.

“This is about the Jedi and the Sith!” Infil’a pleaded. “These people have nothing to do with our fight! It isn’t about them!”

In this moment, Vader took Infil’a’s green lightsaber. He turned the Jedi so that he would be forced to watch in his final seconds of life as Vader broke the dam, releasing the water to drown the city. Then he snapped Infila’s neck and tossed him aside. Vader had the lightsaber, but he had not made it his own just yet.

Vader returned to Mustafar

The volcanic planet of Mustafar

Mustafar, the scene of Darth Vader’s greatest loss | Marvel Comics

The battle had been won, but the mission was not yet complete. Palpatine’s next instruction was to send Vader back to Mustafar, where he had his most humiliating loss to Kenobi just days prior. The dark side of the Force thrives on emotion, and what better place to draw out Vader’s anger than the planet where Kenobi took his arms, legs, and regular body function away from him?

“Mustafar is not like other planets,” Palpatine told Vader. “It is unique. Deep beneath its surface rests a locus for the dark side of the Force. Here, you will reclaim yourself. From the site of your greatest defeat, you shall rise — strong, unbroken, powerful.”

Vader ventured into a cave, almost certainly an old Sith temple. It was there that Vader pulled the kyber crystal from the lightsaber and attempted to bend it to his well.

Vader battled his internal feelings

Obi-wan holds a blue lightsaber as Vader kneels in front of him

Darth Vader sees a vision of surrendering to Obi-Wan Kenobi. | Marvel Comics

But he wasn’t powerful enough in the dark side just yet. The kyber crystal overpowered Vader’s attempts, forcing him to see visions of an uncertain future. He returned to Coruscant and attacked the Emperor, killing Palpatine for having manipulated his mind and costing him everything. Then, he went in search of Obi-Wan and surrendered himself.

No, that was the coward’s way out, thought Vader. He bathed himself in the dark side of the Force with his eyes turning Sith yellow. Vader remembered laying on the ground where he burned, looking up at Kenobi. He remembered the feeling of agony all over his body. The character finally overpowered the crystal, and it was now his own.

Following the events on Mustafar, the beaten and tortured Vader returned to Palpatine at Coruscant for real — this time, to show off his red-bladed lightsaber.

Introducing Palpatine’s Inquisitors

The Inquisitors battle as Palpatine and Vader watch over them

Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader look down on the Inquisitors. | Marvel Comics

After returning to Palpatine, Vader’s suit was broken. His still-burned skin was exposed in many places, the lenses on his mask cracked, and his cybernetics were still shoddily replaced with pieces from the sparring droid. While Vader recovered inside a bacta tank, Palpatine allowed Vader — always the engineer — to fix and modify his own suit as he saw fit.

After using the Force to fix up his suit and cybernetics, Palpatine alerted Vader to someone breaking into the Jedi archives. Yet again, this was a test meant to challenge Vader. Those that have watched previous seasons of Star Wars Rebels will be familiar with the Grand Inquisitor, leader of Palpatine’s group of Inquisitors, which are Force users trained to hunt down the Jedi and destroy them.

Vader’s new mission? Training the Inquisitors.

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