This article contains spoilers for Darth Vader #25.
Recently, Star Wars introduced a new version of a planet-killing superweapon from the old Expanded Universe. The Empire has always been fascinated by superweapons. In large part that’s because Palpatine bought into the so-called “Tarkin Doctrine,” the idea that only fear can create lasting peace. It’s easy to see why such a philosophy was attractive to the Sith.
The Star Wars Expanded Universe introduced a large number of superweapons – and even, at one point, an entire secret Imperial facility dedicated to their development. In fact, superweapons became so ubiquitous that the heroes even started to mock them; in Destiny’s Way by Walter John Williams, Han Solo famously joked the Imperial response to the alien Yuuzhan Vong invasion would have been to construct “ super-colossal Yuuzhan Vong–killing battle machine… [called] the Nova Colossus or the Galaxy Destructor or the Nostril of Palpatine or something equally grandiose.” According to Han, though, the problem was that the superweapon wouldn’t work – because none of the Empire’s superweapons ever did.
Surprisingly, Darth Vader #25 by Greg Pak and Raffaele Ienco brings back an old Legends-era superweapon – the World Devastator. Introduced in the classic Dark Empire comics, the World Devastators would land on the surface of a planet and tear it apart, then harvest the chunks for resources. Darth Vader #25 includes another superweapon that’s clearly a riff on the World Devastator, although its precise functions are unclear. It appears to consume the actual life energy of a planet and use it to power energy weapons, one of which was blasted at Darth Vader himself.
The Disney-era World Devastators have not been created by the Empire; rather, they have been fashioned by traitors. That’s quite an amusing twist, because it does indeed stand to reason some of Palpatine’s enemies would try to outmatch him. It will be interesting to see whether the World Devastators incorporate Kyber crystal technology at all; most Sith superweapons are powered by Kyber crystals, particularly by “bleeding” them. This is because Kyber is bound to the Force, and the Sith thus enjoy bending and twisting living crystals to suit their own purposes.
Pak and Ienco’s Darth Vader run is setting up a rather unusual story; for once the Sith are on the wrong side of the superweapon, trying to destroy it rather than use it. The Empire’s opponents are sure to soon learn they have made a strategic error, however, because Darth Vader is not easily defeated. This Legends superweapon may have returned to Star Wars canon, but it is certain to be destroyed in short order.
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