Redemption is a major theme throughout the Star Wars canon, seeing numerous characters atone for past mistakes, evils, or indifference in the face of atrocities. The most famous of these is, of course, Darth Vader, who after being seduced to the Dark Side ultimately rejoined the Light when it mattered the most. And now, it’s been revealed that his path of atonement has a surprising source: Palpatine.
The current run of Star Wars: Darth Vader comics takes place in the wake of The Empire Strikes Back and the fallout of the famous confrontation between Vader and Luke on Cloud City where the Sith Lord failed to convince his son to join the Dark Side. As Vader investigates the circumstances surrounding Padmé’s death, he comes to realize that he never truly chose the Dark Side, but rather he’d been manipulated from the moment he was taken from Tatooine and inducted into the Jedi Order.
Palpatine himself even openly states this in spiteful mockery, but his intention of crushing whatever spirit remained in his apprentice instead has the opposite effect: sowing seeds of doubt in Vader’s mind that he’s on the right path. As he contemplates the crimes that led him to his current circumstances, such as Force-choking Padmé, assassinating Separatist leaders and murdering Jedi children, it highlights to him just how far he’s fallen and makes him contemplate if there’s anything he can do to become even a fraction of the hero he once was.
For a person to attain redemption, it’s first necessary for them to want to seek it, as by its very nature the state cannot be forced on someone. While it was initially perfectly serviceable for Vader’s atonement to have been merely a few moments in the climax of Return of the Jedi where he chose the life of his son over his loyalty to the Emperor at the cost of his own existence, the expansion of the Star Wars mythos over the decades has added multiple facets to its most iconic character, including that which allowed him to rediscover who he truly should’ve been.