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Star Wars Reveals When Darth Vader Was Most Powerful (Just Before Return of the Jedi)

Star Wars Reveals When Darth Vader Was Most Powerful (Just Before Return of the Jedi)

In the Darth Vader #47 comic, we find out when Vader became the most powerful.

Originally planned for release in 2020, this issue was delayed because of COVID-19 and released this month. In this issue, Vader reaches his peak right before Return of the Jedi.

This issue and previous ones provide interesting angles for how and when Vader became the most powerful.

Based on the comics, Vader does appear to reach the height of his power before Return, but does that hold up in the movies and what fans think? There seems to be a divergence. 

Vader at the Height of His Power


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With the new release of Darth Vader #47, Star Wars fans get to read about Vader at the height of his power.

This issue, by writer Greg Pak and artist Raffaele Ienco, centers on Vader’s quest for supremacy over the Emperor.

It builds on previous issues to show that he has gathered enough forces of darkness to overtake Palpatine.

Taking place just before Return of the Jedi, Vader has managed to defeat some of the Emperor’s loyal followers, the Sith Eternal on the planet Exegol, and claim unprecedented power.

Power enough to challenge Darth Sidious. 

Vader had gone to Exegol soon after his duel with Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back.

Vader wanted to know how Luke survived after the death of Padme Amidala and disobeyed Sidious by going to this planet.

His disobedience triggered a power struggle between Palpatine and Vader that is explored in several issues leading up to this one.

As a recent article conveys, Vader had been “seeking ways to claim new power beyond his master’s purview” and forged an alliance with the Schism Imperial, “a group of disgruntled bureaucrats and officers” who also wanted to remove Palpatine from power.

In addition, Vader had gained “a squad of Rebel cyborgs known as the M.A.R. Corps” who could help him attack the Emperor. 

Collectively, Vader, the Schism, and the M.A.R. Corps reflect Vader’s new power.

Yet, Vader also acquired an extremely large red kyber crystal that could wipe out entire planets, never mind the Emperor, since it was on par with or greater than the one used for the Death Star.

Vader now possesses not only Force powers but an array of strengths that bring him to the peak of his power.

Vader in the Movies

Vader’s accumulated power in the comics does seem to make him the most powerful right before The Return of the Jedi. Does the same hold up with the movies?

Vader may have been at height during The Empire Strikes Back and started to decline afterward. The signs of his strength are numerous.

Before the Battle of Hoth, Vader Force chokes Admiral Ozzel through a video screen while just looking at him.

In Cloud City, we see him in command of the situation in such scenes when he had Han frozen in carbonite. Vader has an imposing presence before he battles Luke and toys with him in the lightsaber fight.

The whole movie is about the Empire winning, and the Rebels struggling to survive. 

In contrast, we could argue that Vader does not seem invincible in Return of the Jedi and so may have already started to decline beforehand.

First and foremost, he loses to Luke in their second lightsaber duel. As they clash lightsabers together, Luke seems to be holding back.

Even if Vader is not truly trying to defeat Luke (because of ulterior motives), the latter appears to beat his father quite handily.

We may also point to a preceding time interval for Vader’s pinnacle of power. When Vader makes his grand presence known for the first time in A New Hope, fear is spread throughout the galaxy.

Likewise, the infamous finale scene in Rogue One gave audiences an invincible Vader that thrashed anyone in his way. Rebel soldiers and Jedi thus heeded his strength before and during A New Hope. 

When Anakin joins Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith is another point in time we may consider, including his just dispatching with Mace Windu.

Vader emerges as the co-companion to the most powerful Sith lord and makes it his mission to wipe out the remaining Jedi.

Thus, we may be looking at a peak before A New Hope, instead of during the Empire Strikes Back.

Vader and Fans

While some fans agree with the idea that Vader was the most powerful before or during Return, just as many disagree.

Comments from this Reddit thread suggest Vader reached his peak when he killed Obi-Wan, when he first became Vader, when he was Anakin, and when he battled Ahsoka Tano.

This last reference to Ahsoka brings us to the animated Rebels show in 3 BBY, but all responses cluster before A New Hope.

As another discussion forum states, when Anakin became Vader seems to be his top point of power.

In Revenge of the Sith, Vader nearly destroys Obi-Wan Kenobi, but afterward “it seems as though the new Vader never got any stronger” in terms of “new or stronger Force powers”, including the use of Force lightning.

Good points, but other fans disagree here and point back to the original trilogy for when Vader was his most powerful.

Fans have also debated Anakin’s transformation with Vader’s suit of armor and whether that hindered him more than helped.

The suit can be viewed as compensating for his lost natural strength, and thereby a sign of his relative weakness, or bolstering his power with durability, stamina, and protection.

Either way, Vader’s suit may serve him best when he appears most powerful–in A New Hope to Empire Strikes Back.

Vader’s Power

Darth Vader #47 comic provides ample reasons to see Vader at the height of his power before Return of the Jedi.

Beyond his already impressive Force powers, he has allies that could potentially overtake the Emperor.

Yet, in the movies, we see Vader most likely reaching his peak at an interval between A New Hope through The Empire Strikes Back.

Given the complexity of the Star Wars universe, it is not surprising that we have divergent views on Vader’s power. 

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