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

Vader is the centerpiece of this conclusion as forces overwhelm him.

The covers: The final issue in this series features three covers to frighten younglings. The A cover by Francesco Francavilla has red humanoids rising out of a moss and vine entangled silhouette of the most famous Sith. It looks okay, but doesn’t really show who the threats are in this issue. I’ve not enjoyed Francavilla’s art on any of this series’ covers and if there’s a sequel I hope he’s not involved. Better is the B cover by Charles Paul Wilson III. This has a giant Vader reaching to his right to grab his castle that features a red pool seemingly bleeding out of it. Oh, and Vader’s armor has melted, making his visage more ghastly. Good illustration and good colors. The Retailer Incentive is the A cover by Francavilla without any colors. It’s just messy, like a rushed convention sketch. I just can’t enjoy this kind of work. Overall grades: A D, B B+, and Retailer Incentive D-

The story: Cavan Scott has his final installment in this saga begin with Vaneé respond to the Inquisitor that’s appeared as he begins to torture Thom Hudd again. The Inquisitor beats the Sith’s servant to the ground for access to the prisoner, but it makes the crazy minion smile as he remembers a story of another Imperial envoy who seemed to have lost his mind. Two of Vader’s guards are overwhelmed by humanoids that swarm over an embankment. Within the castle Vaneé and Imperial Advisor Rersy trade barbs because Vader refuses to explain himself. It’s at this point that a scream interrupts them and a beating occurs on what is essential the front door. What is revealed behind that door is interesting and fairly creepy. What happens to Vader on Page 9 was a surprise because I’ve not seen this happen to him before. The actions he takes afterwards were cool and the reveal at the bottom of 11 neat. I like the justification for what’s occurred and how Vader responds to it on 13. What then happens is easily understandable for having a horrific impact on Rersy. The next two pages deal with the Inquisitor and show what she’s actually up to. I was thrilled to see the characters on 18, though Vaneé’s fate was too quick. A decent tale with a good scare, reminding the reader why Vader is to be feared. Overall grade: B

The art: Francesco Francavilla (Pages 1-2 & 16-20) and Charles Paul Wilson III (3-15) share artistic credit. I do not like Francavilla’s Star Wars art. It’s sloppy and loose. I would rather pull a fan off the streets to draw his pages than have to look at this franchise’s characters drawn by him. It’s just a mess. Much better is Wilson’s art, with Vaneé and Rersy looking delightfully snarky and grotesque. Vader looks muscle bound in some panels, but it suits the harm that befalls him. The entrance on 6 is good, with the characters looking immediately recognizable. The first panel on 8 is excellent. The action that falls upon Vader on 9 is a shock. His reaction on 10 is unsettling. I love the reveal at the bottom of 11 with her close-ups on the next pages stellar. Vader and Rersy’s close-ups on 15 are outstanding. I can’t even talk about the five pages that close out the issue, though the final image is the correct way to end this series. Overall grade: C-

The colors: Francavilla colors his own work and David Garcia Cruz colors Wilson’s pages. Put simply, Francavilla continues to use one color to dominate his pages or panels, giving his work a horribly immature feel. Reds dominate Wilson’s pages, but given the foes that Vader fights it’s acceptable. The book ends with a lot of sickly greens to make Vaneé’s fate disturbing. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Andworld Design creates dialogue, sounds, scene settings, and yells. Francavilla obviously does some of the sounds on his pages, but they look amateurish, such as in the final four words of the issue. IDW, why do you allow this work to continue? Better is the professional looking work of Andworld, with the scene settings looking futuristic, sounds being large, and the yells being massive, such as Vader’s scream. Yes, you read that right — Vader screams! Overall grade: B-

The final line: Vader is the centerpiece of this conclusion as forces overwhelm him. The story is fun, but the visuals are horrifically mixed. I won’t be picking up any sequels if Francavilla returns to pencil the interiors, they look so bad. I would welcome more work by Wilson any time. This is intended for young Star Wars readers, but I doubt this would make them fans of the franchise. Overall grade: C+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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