As the name implies, Tales from Vader's Castles is an anthology series with a bit of a spooky twist to it. The surrounding narrative is about a crew that crashes on the planet Mustafar and must try to escape the evil Empire by going through Darth Vader's castle. The crew tells each other scary stories to try and ease the tension as the threat of the Dark Lord of the Sith grows ever larger.
I wouldn't describe the titular tales as horror stories, per say, but more as adventures that dive into some of the darker threats of the Star Wars universe. Like with any anthology, there is some variety in the quality of each tale. Issue 2's "Count Dooku: Prince of Darkness!" was especially fantastic with a clever setup and payoff. Issue 2 also deserves special note for finding a way to turn Christopher Lee's Count Dooku into a vampire, which is a fun nod to the actor's legacy.
There's a notable amount of variety in the artwork from issue to issue, as well. The core story uses this exaggerated, cartoony style that Disney's been employing in many of its comics lately. The side stories are given more room to explore different looks and styles and it pays off. There isn't anything that really wowed me visually speaking, but it's always good when an artist avoids the uncanny valley and favors emotion.
The only place the story tripped up was Vader's actual arrival. After the buildup the character receives throughout the story, I was hoping for either a dramatic fight or an overwhelming sense of terror on arrival akin to his appearance in the Darth Vader comic series, but he's rather understated in this story. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but for a series named Tales from Vader’s Castle, I had high hopes for Vader’s role.
Otherwise, this miniseries is a fun romp aimed at younger fans. Fortunately, the book doesn’t feel the need to talk down to the reader, so fans from any age group can easily enjoy this one. The composition is also something of a marvel; you don't need to know any additional lore to follow events. The main plot focuses entirely on new characters, while each anthology tells a bite-sized event featuring a series favorite like Obi-Wan or Han Solo.
There's a lot of angst around the Star Wars films right now. The solution I've found is the same solution that existed in the era of the prequels: Read the comics. The best of Star Wars has always been nestled away on bookstore shelves. If you, or a kid you know, wants to experience more Star Wars, then Star Wars Adventures: Tales from Vader's Castle is a great entry point into what lies beyond the big screen
Creative Team: Cavan Scott (Writer), Derek Charm (Artist), Chris Fenoglio (Artist), Kelley Jones (Artist), Corin Howell (Artist), Robert Hack (Artist), Charles Paul Wilson III (Artist), Michael Devito (Colorist), Charlie Kirchoff (Colorist), Valentina Pinto (Colorist), Michelle Madsen (Colorist)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Click here to purchase.