This summer, Marvel’s Star Wars comic books are heading back to an important point in the saga’s history, the Age of Rebellion. And one of the writers leading the charge is Greg Pak, who authored June 26’s Star Wars – Age of Rebellion: Darth Vader #1 alongside artist Ramon Bachs - and is taking over the Star Wars main title in August.
This Darth Vader one-shot travels back to the time before Star Wars: A New Hope, focusing on a fledgling Sith Lord overcoming a challenge to his leadership while also fulfilling a task for the Emperor – in other words, classic Darth Vader stuff.
Pak spoke to Newsarama ahead of Age of Rebellion: Darth Vader’s release to dig into what makes the Dark Lord of the Sith tick, how this story fits into the Star Wars Saga, and what’s ahead as Pak continues writing stories set A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Newsarama: Greg, you’ve tackled some heavy hitters in your career, but Darth Vader is an icon. What’s going on with the Dark Lord of the Sith when we find him in Star Wars - Age of Rebellion: Darth Vader #1?
Greg Pak: Our story takes place before A New Hope and explores a key moment in Vader's life when he receives what might be the most difficult order the Emperor has ever given him.
Nrama: This is the Age of Rebellion – what does that mean for the setting of this tale?
Pak: The stories in the Age of Rebellion series all revolve around the original Star Wars trilogy, and this particular story takes place before A New Hope. So we're seeing Vader here in his black armor, totally committed to his service to the Emperor - but also new enough in that service that he's subjected to a very specific test of will.
Nrama: The solicitation for this story mentions the Moffs. What are they up to here, and how does Darth Vader fit in?
Pak: There's a great tension in A New Hope between Vader and the Imperial officers on the Death Star, who are wary or even contemptuous of Vader's devotion to the Force. And there are interesting chain of command questions, with Tarkin clearly in command of the Death Star, but Vader as the Emperor's primary representative. Our story dives right into that tension as we see a Governor challenging Vader's authority before the Emperor, with some surprising consequences.
Nrama: Darth Vader’s a classic villain but he’s mutli-faceted, almost an anti-hero at times. What space does he occupy in this story?
Pak: Vader's always played this fascinating role in the original trilogy. He's the biggest villain on the screen - as a kid, you didn't come out talking about Grand Moff Tarkin, as spectacularly evil as he is - you came out chilled by Darth Vader. But over the course of all the movies, we also see Anakin as a young hero and much later ultimately see him take that step towards redemption. (Whoops! Spoiler alert!) So it's important to keep all that in mind while writing him.
In this particular story, we've got villains vying with villains. So whether or not you side with Vader I guess depends on what kind of villain you most appreciate.
Nrama: This isn’t your first (or last) foray into the Star Wars galaxy – are there any settings or characters you’re looking forward to writing as you continue working in this wheelhouse?
Pak: I'm absolutely thrilled to be writing the Star Wars ongoing comic book series starting with issue #68 in August! Phil Noto's drawing and coloring and Clayton Cowles is lettering, and it's an absolute dream.
The story takes place right before The Empire Strikes Back and explores the question of what happened to all those thousands of probes the Empire sent out in search of Luke and the rebels. We'll see our heroes split into three teams in a desperate attempt to lure probes away from the fleet.
I don't want to spoil too much, but Leia and Han will go on a noir adventure, Chewie and Threepio will team up in a story that will show what happens when a droid has to play hero, and Luke will find a surprising and dangerous new teacher as he strives to learn more about the Force in order to save the lives of thousands.
Nrama: Ramon Bachs is drawing Age of Rebellion: Darth Vader. What makes him the perfect artist to capture Darth Vader in this story, at this time and place?
Pak: Ramon's been tremendous to work with. Vader's our principal character, but he doesn't actually say that much. So Ramon's done an incredible job of conveying Vader's silent menace, of selling the fury behind that mask, and then absolutely cutting loose when the action comes.
Nrama: What’s your favorite thing he drew for this story?
Pak: Ramon drew few big splashes of action that are so evocative and effective that I didn't put any balloons or captions on them. They're just amazing - if the book goes to a second printing, I'm pretty darn sure one of them will end up as the cover, and you'll want to blow it up and put it on your wall.
Nrama: Bottom line, what’s in store for Darth Vader fans who visit the Age of Rebellion?
Pak: You'll see Vader at a key point in the timeline as he faces challenges from both Imperial bureaucrats and the Emperor himself. And you'll see him find the solution only Vader would find.