It has long been established that Anakin Skywalker, like many in his bloodline, has a flair for the dramatic. He is a haunted soul, a specter of fear, a tragic and vengeful figure. But he is also perhaps the Star Wars galaxy’s biggest, pettiest grudgeholder.
This week’s Star Wars #6—written by Charles Soule, and featuring art by Jesús Saiz, Arif Prianto, and Rochelle Rosenberg, and lettering by Clayton Cowles—sees Luke Skywalker continue his quest to truly become a Jedi. This comes after letting go of the Skywalker saber he lost on Bespin to investigate a vision of a new lightsaber. It’s a quest that leads him to a temple from the High Republic era on the planet Tempes, where Luke faces a trial with a particularly familiar face...
The Grand Inquisitor. Who is very dead. And very on fire.
This is not some resurrection for Star Wars Rebels’ initial villain—the flames consuming his entire body are the flames he plunged into aboard the Sovereign in the animated series’ first season finale. Nor is it a Cave-of-Evil-esque trick played on Luke’s psyche, the potent Force energies of the Tempes temple preying on the lingering doubts in his mind about his father’s legacy. Because this Grand Inquisitor doesn’t just know his past as an extinguisher of surviving Jedi, he is keenly aware that he failed in life and continues to serve someone else in death.
That someone is, well, technically his boss. It turns out, through some kind of Sith magics—perhaps similar to those that bound the ancient Sith Lord Momin to his mask in death, as explored in Soule’s incredible run on the previous volume of Darth Vader with Giuseppe Camuncoli—Vader has bound the very spirit of the Grand Inquisitor to a Jedi Temple, both as a guard and also, essentially, an incredibly haunting alarm bell. The moment the Inquisitor’s spirit leaps out at Luke, Vader senses a disturbance that the trap he’s laid has sprung, and makes his way there to see what flies are caught in it.
By the time he arrives—unaware that it was the son that had just denied their lineage in Cloud City—Luke has not only escaped with a new (actually very ancient) lightsaber to wield, but the spirit of the Grand Inquisitor has been defeated. His second death is not the end, however, and...yeah, it’s about as horrifying as it would seem. Vader has been torturing this soul—this literally still-dying shade of a former Jedi turned dark side acolyte—for almost a decade at this point, bound to live, die, live again, die again at Tempes as nothing more than a glorified spiritual klaxon.
And even when that spirit begs for release into the Force, Vader denies it. Vader was essentially the true head of the Imperial Inquisitorius, but we’ve long known his disdain for both them and, ultimately, the technologically enhanced replacements Palpatine had created behind his back. They were usurpers to his position at the Emperor’s Hand, a constant reminder of just how much his master hates that instead of Anakin Skywalker, the almighty Chosen One, he instead got Vader, more machine than man.
Vader never forgets. And he never forgives. The Grand Inquisitor ponders, as his chained soul returns to service, that it’s perhaps a fate even worse than death at a Dark Lord of the Sith’s hands.
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