In Review: Star Wars Adventures: Tales from Vader’s Castle #5

A solid conclusion for this final issue.

The covers: A trio closes out this series for your comic collection’s consideration. The A cover is by Francesco Francavilla and is, as the other A covers have had, Vader’s silhouette containing the illustration. However, Vader’s face is revealed and his castle and an Imperial shuttle is shown about to land within him. There’s a lot to like, with Vader’s helmet dominating and the incredible use of reds. The B is by Charles Paul Wilson III and is the image I chose to accompany this review. This features Vader again dominating the sky, but now he is turned toward Lina Graf’s approaching ship. He has one hand reaching out to snag the ship from the sky. This features some neat work with blues for the background, whites for the ship, and some subtle reds for the castle’s interiors. This is really nice. The final cover is the Retailer Incentive also by Francavilla. This is the same image as the A cover without any colors. This is also a winner. Overall grades: All A

The story: This is the final chapter of this series written by Cavan Scott. Things went from bad to worse last issue with Darth Vader revealing himself, after he slashed poor Crater in half. Lina is looking for Skritt who’s running toward her. They meet in a hallway and the insect tells her he believes the castle to be haunted. Just as she shoots down this claim, the armor that surrounds them lower their blades and point them at the heroes. Vader’s minion Vaneé reveals himself, saying that they will join the other victims of this dwelling. He then tells the tale of the first raid made on the castle after it was built. A group of Mustafarians swarm the compound, overtaking the Lava Troopers and discover Vaneé. That’s when someone else arrives. This short tale is okay, but doesn’t really add to the previous scary tales, as the heavy isn’t surprising. Better is what happens after the minion finishes his tale and Vader appears. It becomes a race for Lina and Skritt to escape with their lives. It’s here that Scott gets very clever: frightened during all the previous issues, Skritt has been paying attention to each scary story and uses a lesson learned from each to help him and his captain survive. This is a very neat way to show character growth for the bug and justifies how he and Lina are able to avoid Vader. The ending is also very smart, with the final page being foreboding and cool. I was very pleased with how every previous issue was necessary for this conclusion. Overall grade: A

The art: A pair of artists closes out this series, though one only gets a brief visit to Mustafar. Derek Charm does Pages 1 – 2 & 7 – 20 and Charles Paul Wilson III Pages 3 – 6. Charm has been doing the bumpers for this title, showing Lina and crew. Since this issue focuses on the survivors trying to avoid Vader it makes sense that he would get to finish this up. The first two panels are triangle shaped, allowing the shape of the panels to increase the speed at which the pair is running. The third panel elicits smiles as the twosome skid to a halt before slamming into one another. The triangle panels return to show how small Skritt is and to show Lina trying to calm him. The reveal of Vaneé on Page 2 is good with him resembling the Grim Reaper, holding a scythe-like weapon and dressed in black robes. His face is elongated and pasty with some ratty beady red eyes. Page 3 begins Wilson’s four pages and shows Mustafar several years ago. Two Lava Troopers are ambushed by some figures and a turn of the page reveals who and how numerous they are. Vaneé is a little heavier on these pages and almost seemed like a different character until he smiles on the final page. This final page by Wilson is excellent with an outstanding reveal. On 7 Charm resumes the visuals and it’s on 8 that Vader makes his presence known. I like that Vaneé is visually subservient to Vader when they share a panel. When the pair of heroes start running, Skritt has memories of previous scary stories from this series and Charm’s take on these moments are terrific. I also like how he puts a jagged border around these panels to separate them from the panels set in the present. The large panel on Page 12 is a fun surprise and the vehicle on 16 is fantastic, though I’m sure readers will gasp at what becomes of it. The last page is a mostly full-page splash that sums up this series very well. Is there any possible way, IDW, that Charm could illustrate an entire miniseries on his own? Overall grade: A

The colors: Charm colors his own pages and Michael Devito does Willson’s pages. Charm’s pages are in stark reds and blacks, that suit Mustafar perfectly. These colors are so bright that Charm has them change the normal colors of the Skritt and Lina. Sounds get some neat colors from Charm, with lightsabers and explosions being dynamic. Devito’s pages have a lot of browns, but these are absolutely appropriate for the interior of the castle’s bay and serve the Mustifarians well. The first panel on Page 16 is my favorite colored page of the book — it’s gorgeous! Overall grade: A

The letters: The sole letterer of this issue is Robbie Robbins who creates scene settings, yells, dialogue, sounds, whispered dialogue, and the concluding two words. Robbins makes everything very easy to read. The sounds are wonderful visuals that add to the chaos of the issue. Some of the best of this book include THUKK, VSSSSSMM, and a pair of VZZZWs. Overall grade: A

The final line: A solid conclusion for this final issue. Having Vader be the cause of worry is terrific, as Force pushes and chokes, as well as lightsaber swings will thrill all readers. The visuals are also fun and I would love to see Charm illustrate an entire Star Wars series. 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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