REVIEW: ‘Star Wars Adventures: Return to Vader’s Castle #3 – Bop-Sh-Op, Little Sarlacc Horror,’

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Return to Vader’s Castle #3 is published by IDW Publishing and continues the Spooky Wars run of horror inspired Star Wars stories. Aimed at younger audiences, the series is written by Cavan Scott and features art from Francesco Francvilla and Nick Brokenshire as Andworld Design is credited as letterer. The five-issue October run is nearing its end but that is not stopping this team for pushing the boundaries of giving readers a spooky take some of your favorite Star Wars characters.

Return to Vader’s Castle #2 (review here) ended with Lieutenant Thom Hudd attempting to escape from Vaneé,the insidious servant of Darth Vader. Much like the creature from Hudd’s story in The Curse of Tarkin, the Rebel captive is determined to not go away gently into that dark night. As Vaneé chases Hudd, it is his turn to yet again spin a tale; this time featuring another famously determined character, Asajj Ventress.

Bop-Sh-Op, Little Sarlacc Horror opens in the depths of Coruscant on level 1313. Level 1313 is one of the dangerous areas in all of Courscant, riddle with crime and other nefarious activities. Ventress, the former Sith assassin and now bounty hunter, finds herself taking a job from Lacezzi Macran. Macran is one of the crime lords on level 1313 and wants the dathomirian to investigate disappearances that have been occurring across the area.  Whatever is taking people does not discriminate as cops, droids, and scum alike have been taken. With the level on the brink of a gang war, it is up to Ventress to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Given the Return to Vader’s Castle #3‘s very on the beak title, writer Scott puts a Spooky Wars twist on Little Shop of Horrors. While Ventress doesn’t break out into musical tunes, she does have to uncover the mystery of how a sarlacc is on the loose in Coruscant’s underworld. The previous two issues of Return to Vader’s Castle and even the preceding Tales from Vader’s Castle (review here) all referenced relatively scary stories. Return to Vader’s Castle #3 is the first issue in the series where I felt that the story was a bit more fun. Even though there are people being pulled into the shadows left and right by tentacles, there is something comedic in seeing the references to Little Shop of Horrors with one of my most feared assassins in Star Wars canon.

Even if the story does not invoke the same kind of terror that is prevalent in other issues, I am impressed with the teams’ ability to pull something like this off. With all of the horror stories to choose from, the team is able to show range in the way they are able to incorporate horror into a series for a younger audience.  After references to Frankenstein, Dracula, The Haunting of House Hill, The Blair Witch, and other horror staples I did not expect to see a story based on a giant space plant.

Overall, I continue to enjoy Return to Vader’s Castle. The cat and mouse game with Hudd and Vaneé in the through-line plot is turning up and the Rebel is on the verge of escaping. However, given the threats that undoubtedly lurk in Vader’s castle on Mustafar, it doesn’t look good for Hudd.  I am just as excited to see the next Spooky Wars, but I am just as excited to see how Hudd’s story plays out in the back half of the series. With the title of the next issue, Vault of the Living Brains, I am even less optimistic about his chances.

 

Star Wars Adventures: Return to Vader’s Castle #3
5

TL;DR

I continue to enjoy Return to Vader’s Castle. The cat and mouse game with Hudd and Vaneé in the through-line plot is turning up.