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Darth Vader Didn't Understand Luke Skywalker Until Their Final Battle

Warning: spoilers ahead for Star Wars #16 and Darth Vader #16!

Marvel's Star Wars has just confirmed that even after their Empire Strikes Back battle, Darth Vader deeply misunderstood Luke Skywalker. In the months after he revealed himself as Luke's father and the young Jedi subsequently refused to join the dark side, Darth Vader became determined to kill his son, lest the Emperor replace him with Luke as his new apprentice. However, the War of the Bounty Hunters event just revealed that Vader misjudged Luke in some key ways, apparently unaware of who his son really was until the final confrontation that led to his death and redemption.

In Marvel Comics' Star Wars #16 from Charles Soule and Ramon Rosanas, it is revealed that Luke keeps imagining different versions of how his duel with Vader on Cloud City could have ended, and each version sees him being brutally killed by Vader, showing how fearful he is of facing his father again. During the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover event featuring the galaxy's battle over Han Solo encased in carbonite, Leia needs Luke to confront Vader before the Dark Lord destroys Han. However, Luke declines to face his father directly, still fearful and rightly believing himself unready in the time period between Empire and Return of the Jedi.

Related: The Empire Actually Saved Luke Skywalker From Darth Vader

Instead of facing him in battle, Luke calls Vader's bluff, challenging him to try and catch Luke in his X-Wing, resulting in the Dark Lord of the Sith sparing Solo to give chase (partly because he believes Luke's friends make him weaker.) While Luke's decision is tactical, Star Wars #16 strongly indicates he very much fears battling Darth Vader again, which is why it's surprising to see the Sith disagree with this assessment. Darth Vader #16 from Greg Pak and Raffaele Ienco sees Vader preparing to take his TIE to go after Luke, and it's here where Vader's agent Ochi gloats, crowing, "Ha ha! The boy fears you, my lord!" However, Vader replies, "No... but he will."

Vader is seemingly under the impression that his son is potentially arrogant and without fear, which just isn't the case. Luke has a healthy and justifiable fear of facing his father again, having admitted to himself that he has much more to learn on his Jedi path before he's able to directly confront Vader once more. It's possible that Vader is unable to understand how Luke is using his fear as a motivator to become better and eventually overcome it, rather than succumbing to it as Vader did with his own fears as Anakin Skywalker, making him more susceptible to corruption by the dark side of the Force. This also continues the trend of Vader having the wrong idea of what drives and limits Luke, such as thinking that his friends are his weakness (when the exact opposite is true.)

Vader not having an accurate read on his son is impressive writing for this interim period of the Star Wars timeline, as it adds to the idea that Vader doesn't just save Luke in Return of the Jedi because he is overcome by love. Rather, it suggests Luke Skywalker sparing his father opens Darth Vader's eyes to who his son truly is for the first time: a true Jedi who can experience fear without succumbing to it, and living proof that the Sith philosophy is deeply flawed.

More: Mandalorian & Baby Yoda Star in Stunning Comic Art from Declan Shalvey

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