In Review: Star Wars Adventures: Tales from Vader’s Castle #3

Han and Chewie take the wrong job and find themselves in danger in this fun story.

The covers: A creepy trio to thrill Star Wars fans. The A cover is by Francesco Francavilla and features young Han Solo and Chewbacca in the bottom of the illustration. Han has his pistol pointed forward left, while the Wookie holds his bowcaster ready. Behind the pair in a forest setting are the silhouettes of some short creatures with glowing red eyes. Behind the heroes, almost blocking the branches and pair of moons, is a gigantic owl’s face, its own eyes crimsons. The coloring is just too dark for me on this. It’s too difficult to make out the details in the art. I do like that the entire illustration is contained within an outline of the Sith. Corin Howell has created the B cover showing Han and Chewbacca on Rendel, back to back with their weapons held ready. They’re surrounded by thick and thorny vines, unaware that their master is high above the pair, spreading her wings as though to engulf the pair. This incident is in the story, so it’s a good tease of a future moment. The art is good and the colors nicely ominous, yet still allowing all aspects of the visuals to be seen. The Retailer Incentive cover is a black and white version of the A cover by Francavilla. This is cool, but I do like it better with the colors. Overall grades: A C+, B A, and Retailer Incentive B

The story: Cavan Scott begins this issue with Lina Graf and her crew receiving heavy fire from a squad of Death Troopers. She orders her crew to get inside the mysterious castle they’ve discovered on Mustafar, but Gee-Three refuses to go, instead insisting he assist Graf, because “…I’ve never had so much fun!” He leaps among the throng of troopers to battle them, allowing Graf to run inside. Once in, Crater asks if she can tell another story to calm the nerves of Skritt. She doesn’t think it’s exactly the right time to do so, but acquiesces. She tells the tale of a young woman who wanted a pilot to deliver a statue to the supposedly cursed world of Rendel. Naturally, Han Solo takes the job after others have turned it down. Chewbacca is worried about their task, but Han shoots his fears down. Naturally, once on the world they encounter trouble. What the pair discover on Page 6 is good, the character they encounter has a great warning, and the reveal on 10 outstanding. Faster than you can say “This Side of Paradise,” Han’s in trouble and he’s got to move quickly or die quickly in his tracks. The antagonist is neat and her justifications for causing trouble are interesting and rooted in classical tales. How Han and Chewie get out of danger is clever and smart, and with just enough Solo luck to allow them to survive. The final two pages bookend the issue, returning to the group on Mustafar, though one of their members has crossed a line. Incredibly fun reading and absolutely recommended. Overall grade: A

The art: The art for this issue is by Derek Charm (1-3 & 19-20) and Corin Howell (4-18). I’ve been a fan of Charm’s artwork since he worked on The Powerpuff Girls (also published by IDW), so to see his interpretation of Star Wars characters is a joy. I love the emotion he gives the cast, with even the static faces of Crater and Gee-Three emoting well. Skritt continues to be wonderful for his constant state of fear. Howell’s art works fine in this issue. Han’s reveal on Page 4 is the quintessential image of the cocky smuggler. The creature that he and Chewie encounter at the bottom of 5 is as ominous as things can get. The flashback in the third panel on 6 is great, with the smile on one character’s face delicious. The sadness that ends 8 is shared by the reader. The large image on 10 is a great creeper with the action that follows on 11 a good surprise. The effect of something upon a character at the top of 12 is equally frightening and Howell does a solid job with this character for the remainder of the tale. The entrance on 13 is awesome and I love the design of this character. The framing device for this character’s tale on 14 is cool. The second panel on 18 is a great final image of that individual. I’m liking both artists’ work on this issue. Overall grade: A 

The colors: Derek Charm colors his own pages and Valentina Pinto colors Howell’s. Charm’s pages use a lot of red and black, which would be the two colors one would associate with Mustafar. There’s also a good use of sickly greens for the backgrounds during Gee-Three’s fighting. I love Pinto’s coloring of Chewbacca, whose hair must be a considerable chore for any colorist. Pinto makes him look fabulous. The night sky of Rendel is given a creepy violet, connoting night but also an alien setting. When something occurs to Han his face gets a lighter color, visual showing the increasing trouble he’s come upon, though his blue eyes resonate beyond the pages of the book. Overall grade: A

The letters: Robbie Robbins and Tom B. Long are the letterers, though which pages each did, sadly, isn’t stated in the credits. The text of this tale includes scene settings, dialogue, sounds, Wookie roars, and the tease for next issue. All are easy to read, with the sounds being fun to look upon and even better to read aloud. Chewie’s unique speech looks especially awesome, capturing and completing the visuals of the Wookie’s many moods. Overall grade: A

The final line: Han and Chewie take the wrong job and find themselves in danger in this fun story. The scares are perfect for young readers, for whom this series is intended, but the sense of fun and the adventures the characters encounter will please all fans of Star Wars. In addition to the story, the visuals are awesome, with Han’s smile and Chewie’s worried face eliciting joy from the reader. A terrific read. 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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