Darth Vader is a tool, more specifically a hammer. For most people, that would be an insult. Fortunately, what makes Vader such a well fleshed out character is that he is certainly aware of who and what he is.
I’ve never been a fan of Fan-Fiction, of any kind. Generally, when people write lines and story arcs for characters they didn’t create themselves it comes out poorly. The only people who have done justice to the Star Wars Universe in recent memory has been the team that’s writing Darth Vader!
In this Star Wars Universe, we get a clearer look at Vader’s life from his side of the events we saw on-screen in The Original Trilogy movies. I’m not going into great detail about the story because I want you to read it for yourself.
Instead of going the usual “behind the scenes” route with added-on / forced newfound powers, we get to see that Lord Vader has a very, very limited skill set. However, what makes him so powerful is how and when he uses them as well as his ability to force people into situations where they engage on his terms.
A review of Vader’s skill set, let me know if I miss anything.
- Weapon: Lightsaber.
- Force Push: That means he can push things away using only The Force.
- Force Pull: That means he can pull things towards himself using The Force.
- Force Choke: He can use the Force to strangle people. While arguably a derivative of Push and Pull, I want to be as liberal as I can with what I give him credit for.
This brings the grand total of offensive options he has employed to three, plus one weapon. Even the weakest video game fighters have more than four tools to work with.
Those four options are all Vader needs.
The Vader we read about takes great pride in being a tool. He does what he does better than anyone else and he only practices at being a better hammer. What makes him the smartest hammer the multiverse has ever seen is that he has the wisdom to outsource the things he isn’t good at.
Planning discreet missions and tactics that require technology, teamwork, and stealth are not what hammers are for. He recruits a simple but self-aware vassal to carry out those deeds. Chief among them is rogue archeologist and notable thief / conwoman, Doctor Aphra. She knows her role, as well as the price of insubordination or failure. Because Vader is a hammer, he only has one punishment to dole out.
Darth Vader kills you, or he does not kill you. That’s it. He lacks the patience for torture so when someone is less than cooperative he uses his droid “0-0-0”, pronounced “Triple Zero”. If C3P0 had a sadistic, homicidal brother from an alternate universe Triple Zero would be it! I can’t express to you how much this droid adds to the story in terms of gallows humor.
Darth Vader uses his Lightsaber the way that a surgeon uses a scalpel. He can cleave heads from bodies, or delicately deflect any form of energy coming at him. When he needs lots of indiscriminate large volume dakka, the BT-1 droid is ready, willing, and able to shoot anything. Repeatedly!
Lord Vader doesn’t need a Heavy, he is The Heavy!
To stay with my hammer simile, I want to share a Darth Vader quote from the very first edition of the Darth Vader comic:
“You called me a Jedi. You know nothing. Mind Tricks are not of the Dark Side. We prefer Force.”
That puts things into a clear and tidy frame of reference. Mind Tricks are for people you want to deceive. Lord Vader wants you to know exactly who he is and what he is about to do, with or without your cooperation. He has no time or desire to do anything other than bring you to your knees by force if you aren’t smart enough, or tough, enough to bow of your own free will.
Because he is a hammer and presents himself as nothing else.
The writing still has to adhere to the tone and style of the original script, but that doesn’t stop the writers from putting together great dialogue.
In issue 6 of the series the Sith Master, Darth Sidious, A.K.A. Emperor Palpatine, makes certain that if his Apprentice ever has any notion of forgetting his role in the relationship they have, he will be sternly reminded! Most notably expressed in this quote:
“You forget who is Master and who is Student. It is your duty to learn what I know. It is my duty to learn what there is to teach.”
Earlier I said I wasn’t a fan of non-canon writing. Even worse than that are parodies. Below is an exception, and who exactly Vader told to “Suck his robot balls!“
I can’t become a Sith, but I can definitely be a hammer!
Bonus material, the voice of Darth Vader!
Last but not least!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, coming to theaters December 18, 2015!