Anakin Skywalker’s love for Padme Amidala is at the heart of his turn to the dark side, as his desire to protect her and avert the death he had foreseen for her allowed him to be manipulated by Palpatine. Unfortunately, the Galactic Senator died in childbirth, but her twin children lived on. However, if she had survived, the course of Star Wars history could’ve changed drastically. And that’s an outcome that’s teased in the hugely shocking final page of Marvel’s Darth Vader #1.
Set after the events of The Empire Strikes Back, the issue follows a devastated Vader, still reeling from the fact that his son Luke rejected his offer to rule the galaxy alongside him. Filled with anger, he goes on a mission to track down everyone who conspired to shield the boy from him all this time. This means the Sith Lord must retrace some steps from his old life, including returning to Tatooine and Padme’s apartment on Coruscant. And through these travels, he’s haunted by his memories of happier times with his late wife.
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Or maybe “late” isn’t actually accurate, as Vader’s final stop in the issue is the planet Vendaxa, with the final page featuring him coming face to face with… Padme, seemingly alive, and pointing a gun at him. This is a jaw-dropping revelation, to say the least, as having Vader encounter his lost love in any form in between Episodes V and VI would color his arc in Return of the Jedi in a different light. Still, there’s likely more going on here than what we see on the page.
ComicBook.com suggests the smart theory that this could be one of Padme’s old Royal Handmaidens from Naboo, who were known to be similar in appearance to the queen so that they could act as her decoy in dangerous situations. Perhaps in this moment, with his mind addled with revenge, rage and surprise, Vader initially believes this to be Padme herself. Of course, the mystery could be explained away very easily in Darth Vader issue #2 as a case of mistaken identity, but for now, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.