REVIEW: ‘Star Wars Adventures: Shadow of Vader’s Castle’

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Shadow of Vaders Castle cover art

Spooky season may be over, but IDW Publishing still has one treat left for all the Star Wars fans out there with Star Wars Adventures: Shadow of Vader’s Castle. For the third year in a row, writer Cavan Scott takes readers back to Mustafar to experience all of the terror that Darth Vader’s residence has to offer. Scott is joined by artists Derek Charm, Nicoletta Baldari, Nick Brokenshire, and Francesco Francavilla as well as letterer Valeria Lopez. Much like other Star Wars Adventures titles, Shadow of Vader’s Castle is targeted at a younger audience but still attempts to blend horror into the universe to give readers a bit of Spooky Wars.

Previous installments of this series, Tales from Vader’s Castle and Return to Vader’s Castle, were released in a five-issue series. Each issue was typically themed off of a horror staple that was adapted into the Star Wars universe as characters tried to escape from the Dark Lord’s fortress. Shadow of Vader’s Castle breaks away from the mold as forty-page one shot. Despite the change in format, Shadow of Vader’s Castle loses none of the magic that the two previous series had.

Shadow of Vader’s Castle opens with Kakan, a young Mustfarian, eager to see the Jedi that has come to Mustafar. Unfortunately for the boy, he is met by Darth Vader fresh off the murder of the Separatist leaders. The former Jedi, who wants no witnesses, chases Kakan until the boy runs into another Mustafairan, Lellis. Lellis uses the repulsor vents to send lava fumes toward the new Sith Lord. The poisonous gas makes Darth Vader begin to hallucinate. The ghosts of his past begin to swirl around him, taunting and attempting to make his fears come to the surface. The artwork of the swirling ghosts of Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, General Grievous, Ahsoka Tano, and even Yoda is eerily beautiful as familiar characters are given a terrifying visage.  The two Mustafarians are able to escape but not before they experience the first horror story from Vader’s castle.

Shadow of Vader’s Castle then leaps to years later following the Battle of Endor and the death of Darth Vader. Two young Mustafarians attempt to relish in the defeat of the Empire and to be finally rid of the owner of the evil fortress. However, one of the boys, Giggek, does not think that Mustafar will rid of the shadow from Vader’s castle until the structure is destroyed. The eager children attempt to obtain detonators when they are stopped by an elderly Lellis who is the uncle of one of the boys.  Lellis attempts to dissuade the duo with a terrifying tale of how one of Darth Vader’s most loyal attendants came to be in the Dark Lord’s service.

They are not convinced and continue their quest. The rest of Shadow of Vader’s Castle follows the two boys are they attempt to bring the fortress down. Much like the two previous series, there are horror stories that are injected while the duo traverses the castle.  While the boys try to do the near-impossible, they are met by a familiar face to the series who is not pleased with their presence. Now the boys must decide whether they should complete the mission or escape the castle with their lives. Darth Vader may be gone, but that does not mean that things still don’t go bump in the night.

Despite not being a part of the younger target audience and by no means a horror fan, I enjoy the Vader’s Castle series every year. Overall, Shadow of Vader’s Castle is a nice addition to the Vader’s Castle series. I was initially worried the one-shot format would take away from the secondary scary stories that are told throughout the series. However, it still works.

Since Shadow of Vader’s Castle has multiple artists working on the comic, the spooky tales have a distinct difference in art styles compared to the main story.  This gives each of the stories their own time to shine in their own horror-filled way. Despite Darth Vader being gone after the events of Return of the Jedi, Vader’s castle still remains to be a scary place to be. Vader’s shadow still looms and there are still those who wish to see the Dark Lord’s presence prevail at the fortress giving more stories to tell. Writer Scott and the host of artists are able to provide a story that still evokes the same kind of horror vibes the previous series did even without a lesser dose of Darth Vader. I am counting the days until next spooky season when we are given Ghosts of Vader’s Castle.

Star Wars Adventures: Shadow of Vader’s Castle is available now wherever comics are sold.


Star Wars Adventures: Shadow of Vader's Castle
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TL;DR

Despite not being a part of the younger target audience and by no means a horror fan, I enjoy the Vader’s Castle series every year. Overall, Shadow of Vader’s Castle is a nice addition to the Vader’s Castle series. I was initially worried the one-shot format would take away from the secondary scary stories that are told throughout the series. However, it still works.