REVIEW: ‘Star Wars Adventures: Return to Vader’s Castle #4 – Vault of the Living Brains,’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Return to Vader’s Castle #4 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 Nicoletta Baldari as Andworld Design is credited as letterer. With only two more issues left in the five-issue run, the team continues to give readers interesting Star Wars stories with a spooky twist.

Return to Vader’s Castle #3 (review here) wrapped with Lieutenant Thom Hudd‘s escape attempt from Vader’s castle being thwarted by Vaneé, his captor and torture for sometime now. Hudd’s decision to steal from the ominous fortress on Mustafar appears to seem less and less worth it as the story progresses. As Hudd is being brought back the chamber where he has received so much punishment, he attempts to prolong the inevitable by telling one more story to Vader’s servant. This spooky story features everyone’s favorite gangster, Jabba the Hutt.

Vault of the Living Brains takes place on Tatooine right in the heart of Jabba’s palace. Jabba is greeted by Crakka, a cousin of his whom Jabba does not have the fondest memories of. When your cousin wants to bury a virbroaxe in your skull, I don’t imagine they get invited over to whatever passes for Thanksgiving in the Star Wars universe.

Nevertheless, Crakka comes before Jabba to bury the hatchet (pun intended). She presents Jabba with a huna-netre to add to his vast collection of creatures. The huna-netre is a massive beast that is able to have claws that cut through carbonite. In a test of fighting ability, Jabba puts the beast against his own akk dogs.

The huna-netre wins the day. While many expect Jabba to go into a fit of rage after the defeat, much like he does in Return of the Jedi, the gangster is actually excited. He decides to hold a feast and accepts his cousin back as family. However, given that this story involved Hutts, nothing is quite as it seems. Crakka slinks into the palace depths while the patrons of the party are asleep. She is looking for locked away secrets that her cousin’s vaults hold. The only question is, will she be able to find them before Jabba or whatever lies below finds her?

While Return to Vader’s Castle #4 does not come off as strong initially as its predecessors, there is still much to appreciate. It is always difficult to know for certain whether these spooky stories happened as they are being retold through the lens of the main stories characters.

Jabba’s palace is infamous with stories and drunkards so who knows if what transpires in the rest Hudd’s story even happened. With that said, I still find myself enjoying the writing decisions Scott makes through this issue in particular. The story takes a bit on inception route that takes readers through a story that Crakka is telling which really deepens the mystery and lore prevalent throughout the Tales from Vader’s Castle and Return to Vader’s Castle series.

Future, he chooses to reference his past work, which for me as a fan of Scott’s other works really put a smile on my face while reading Return to Vader’s Castle #4.  He includes the huna-netre and the akk dogs which he also references in Dooku: Jedi Lost. Given that the work was an audio book, it be hard at times to picture what some of the creatures look that have rarely or even never have been talked about.

Luckily for readers, Scott and artists Francvilla and Baldari are able to provide visuals that puts Star Wars lore outside this issue into context. For a series designed for a younger audience, I think that is an excellent way to widen your reach to more Star Wars fans. It is these little things that keep me coming back for more.

The main story continues to progress and readers will certain enjoy the cliffhanger Return to Vader’s Castle #4. The team at IDW Publishing only have one more issue to wrap up this year’s Spooky Wars. Given the tone of the rest of series, I wouldn’t be surprised if the story didn’t have the happiest of endings.


Star Wars Adventures: Return to Vader’s Castle #4


The main story continues to progress and readers will certainly enjoy the cliffhanger in Return to Vader’s Castle #4.