Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command saw Lord Vader travel to an unexplored galaxy where a fatal trap was waiting for him.
Throughout his time in the Star Wars Universe, Darth Vader genuinely believed that he was a product of the Jedi and Palpatine’s influence. This is seen through the events of Revenge of the Sith, as well as the constant trials that Sidious put his apprentice through. While Vader earned an infamous reputation as his strength and confidence grew, there was a time when he was still learning his role in the Empire. Though it’s now considered part of Legends, Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command by Haden Blackman, Rick Leonardi, Daniel Green Wes Dzioba, and Michael Heisler saw one of Vader’s earliest missions for the Empire.
Shortly after the events of Revenge of the Sith, Vader found himself summoned in front of Emperor Palpatine. Moff Wilhuff Tarkin’s son and his entire Star Destroyer had gone missing in a largely unexplored system. Tarkin did not want Vader on the mission as he felt he was too focused on exterminating the Jedi. Vader confirmed that he could complete the job and Palpatine agreed with his judgment.
Vader blasted his way through the Ghost Nebula until he came across the last-known location of Tarkin’s son. He barrelled his way through another civilization before finding a protocol droid that had been waiting for Imperials. The droid informed Vader that Tarkin’s son was his master before presenting Vader with a gift meant for anyone searching for the missing Admiral. Before he could examine the device closely, it began to erupt. Vader commanded his squad to prepare themselves before performing one of his greatest feats. Vader used the Force to control the blast so that it only erupted on him and the area directly in front of him.
While it might seem out of character for Vader to call out protective orders for his squad, there were a few reasons for his actions. This is a very young Vader who was still caught between the light and dark side of the Force. Even though he was much more ruthless than he was as Anakin, Vader still held positive memories of his time with clones and would understandably be protective over them during his early years as a Sith. During this story, Vader was also traveling with Lady Saro who claimed to be the only one with pertinent information about Tarkin’s location. He called out to his troops to ensure that she stayed safe, more so than his actual troops.
Though Vader was able to control the blast, the ensuing explosion still wreaked havoc on his suit. It blew out Vader’s chest unit, which was responsible for regulating the life-support functions of his suit. While Vader has been seen keeping himself alive by using the Force in the past, this was a completely different scenario. Vader never actually appeared to use the Force to maintain his vitals, and he was able to continue his takeover of the Ghost Nebula while his unit remained damaged.
It should also be noted that Vader does not wear his helmet for some key instances after the rest of his armor was damaged. He spoke to a group of assassins as well as confronted and fought Tarkin’s son helmetless. There are a couple of issues with this portrayal as Vader depends on the airflow from his helmet to breathe. With his chest unit already damaged, it’s not likely Vader would take a risk by removing his only remaining source of life support. Vader also struggles to speak without his helmet as his vocal cords were fried in his battle with Obi-Wan, yet he still manages to speak full and comprehensible sentences without the use of technology.
While the explosion may have caused some issues with Vader’s suit, it still proved to be one of his most powerful uses of the Force. While Vader is often seen deflecting blaster fire with the Force or his lightsaber, an explosion is a different type of beast. It joins the list of unbelievable Force feats that only Vader could pull off, such as his survival after the Walkers collapsed on him in the Rebels episode “Siege of Lothal,” and his survival underneath the weight of a mountain at the end of Darth Vader and the Lost Command.
This story helps solidify Vader as one of the strongest Force users of all time. He found Tarkin’s son, absorbed an explosion, fought through an army of assassins and soldiers, and even survived after being trapped underneath a mountain for days on end. The fact that he did all of this in his early days as a Sith validates Vader’s legendary status, proving that he is one villain that the Universe will never forget.
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