In Review: Star Wars Adventures: Tales From Vader’s Castle #1

Scary Star Wars series starts sensationally with the crew of the Ghost encountering supernatural evil.

The covers: Five different covers to introduce the premiere issue of this frightful series for little ones. The A cover is by Francesco Francavilla and features Kanan and Hera in tight quarters looking behind them in fear as a levitating Chopper has energy shooting out of him. The Jedi and the Twi’lek look shocked at what their droid is now capable of. Francavilla was a good choice for this cover because he’s great at horror illustrations and he does an excellent job. The colors are also striking, with it in yellows, reds, and grays primarily. Also, take a look at how slick Francavilla is but putting the entire illustration within a silhouette of Darth Vader. Very cool. The B cover by Chris Fenoglio is also a great creeper. A door refuses to open and a screaming Kanan reaches out to the reader for aid. Behind him Hera is also shown screaming, and pressed tight against the door is Chopper who also wants entry. Behind the trio is a monstrous green ghostly visage showing pleasure at the harm it intends to inflict on the heroes. Great design and excellent colors. The Retailer Incentive A cover is also by Francavilla and is the same as the A cover, but without colors. This is a neat way to see what the artist created before it was colored. I like it, but I like the colored cover better. The Retailer Incentive B cover was created by Derek Charm and is the cover I chose to accompany this review. In the foreground is Lina Graf looking at the ominous structure her friends, XM-G3, Skritt, Hudd, and CR-8R, are about to enter. It’s Darth Vader’s castle on Mustafar and a giant image of the Sith looks down at these univited guests. I love the look of the characters and the colors, primarily red and black, are outstanding. The IDW Convention cover is also by Charm and is an uncolored version of the previous color. This is neat to see because it’s not only in black and white but features really strong work with grays. Outstanding! Overall grades: A A, B A+, Retailer Incentive A B, Retailer Incentive B A+, and IDW Convention A

The story: This is a story from the Journal of Lina Graf. She’s a member of the Rebel Alliance and is trying to pilot her ship the Auric to safety from a trio of TIE Fighters that are battering them. Aboard are Skritt, an insectoid technician, Lietuenant Hudd, a thief-turned Rebel, XM-G3, a former bodyguard droid, and CR-8R, Lina’s companion since she was a kid. They need someplace nearby to make repairs and there’s only one planet, though it’s heavily guarded by Imperial forces: Mustafar. They’re about to go outside until CR-8R tells them to wait. Going outside could be the worst possible decision. He then recounts a tale told to him by the droid Chopper of a problem encountered on the Ghost by Kanan and Hera. This tale is really fun, with just the right amount of scares to thrill young readers and enough cool reveals to make the oldest of Star Wars fans happy. Plus, now that Rebels has finished up its run on television, it’s incredibly enjoyable to see this trio of characters again. I’m already missing their exploits, and to see them working together again made me incredibly happy. Once the tale is told, the decision is made to go outside, otherwise the characters will bake inside the Auric. That’s when they see a structure. Cavan Scott has created an extremely clever story for Star Wars fans just before Halloween that can be devoured over and over again. Overall grade: A

The art: The exploits of the Auric’s crew is illustrated by Derek Charm and the Ghost’s crew’s outing is created by Chris Fenoglio. The first page is an exciting full-paged splash as the Auric is about to ram into the reader as laser blasts come shooting from the TIEs. The crew is then introduced with each getting a panel to themselves or shown next to Lina to show their size. I really like Skritt’s look, who looks like a diminutive centipede. Hudd is a large bearded scrapper who looks as though he’s always ready for a fight. XM is a monster in his size, while CR looks like an informational unit due to his thin build. The large panel that Charm begins Page 4 is awesome, with fiery death everywhere and the only place available to land is the dark home of Vader. Charm does a great job on the final page where the size of the castle is revealed and the characters’ reactions to it are shown. Great cliffhanger and terrific angle to show it. Fenoglio has Kanan and Hera rescuing a character who has a fantastic design, with enough familiar elements, some Star Wars additions, and some stellar emotions. When the lights go out for the characters, shadows take over and they increase the tension wonderfully. Hera and Kanan have some great reactions when things go mysteriously wrong, while Chopper becomes an incredibly ominous force. The large panel on Page 17 is what’s going to sell this book to older fans, because it’s awesomeness defined. The last two panels on 18 are terrific. That’s the entire issue’s artwork: terrific. There’s no credited colorist for this issue, so I’m going to assume that the artists colored their own pages. Charm’s pages are glorious in intense reds due to the setting being Mustafar, while Fenoglio’s pages are in cool blues and muted colors due to the power being out. Well done. Overall grade: A

The letters: Narration and dialogue (the same font), sounds, an antagonist’s unique speech, and the tease for next issue are by Robbie Robbins. I would have liked to have seen the narration and dialogue be different fonts rather than differed by the shape and colors of the balloons that contain them. The same could also be said for the dialogue of the droids and the organics, which is differed by the shape of the balloon. However, the sounds are really fun — How could one not enjoy a classic PEW PEW? — and the villain’s speech is creepy just to look at, yet alone to read. The tease for next issue is a really cool font I’ve not seen before and it’s also employed for the cover gallery text. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Scary Star Wars series starts sensationally with the crew of the Ghost encountering supernatural evil. Fun story that’s perfect Halloween reading for all ages, with the visuals being wonderful. Recommended. Overall grade: A

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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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