On the violent lava planet Mustafar stands the foreboding castle of the Sith Lord Darth Vader; awaiting those who are brave enough to cross its threshold. From the pen of Cavan Scott (Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space): comes Tales From Vader’s Castle #1 is the first in IDW’s weekly horror-themed Star Wars comics for October. Open the first page…if you dare!

The story begins with narration by Lina Graf, a commander in the Rebel Alliance. Lina is piloting her freighter recalling a ghost story while on the run from Imperial TIE fighters. Looking for a place to land before her ship crashes, one planet shows up on the charts as a possible destination: Mustafar, home of Darth Vader’s castle.

Lina, who is the focal character in Scott’s Adventures in Wild Space series, is accompanied by her crew: the beetle-like Skritt (technician), Lieutenant Hudd (ex-thief who is affectionally named after Tom Huddleston who wrote half of the Tales From Wild Space series) and the droids XM-G3 (former bodyguard) and CR-8R (Lina’s longtime companion and in charge of INTEL).

Going into this series, I was excited to see Francesco Francavilla’s work on the cover art. But once I opened the first page, I found myself impressed with the interior art by Derek Charm and Chris Fegnolio. I thought it was brilliant to assign Charm and Fegnolio, who display two different art styles, to two different parts of the story. Charm illustrated all the scenes of Lina and her crew, while Fegnolio handled all of the flashback scenes with Hera and Kanan.

Unlike some of the photorealistic art we’ve seen in some of the other Star Wars comics, Vader’s Castle brings back the feel of Saturday morning cartoon fun, as do all of the comics in the Star Wars Adventures series. The best way I can describe this comic, based on the one issue, is Scooby Doo on paper. A group of friends on an adventure find themselves in a scary situation. There are no real stakes as all of the main characters that appear in this series all wind up in later media, but who doesn’t love a good ghost story?

As with all of IDW’s comics, the colors pop off the page. The artwork throughout is bright, consistent, well-structured and very pleasing to look at. Personally, I enjoy the thicker pages of IDW not found in some of the more mainstream comic publishers.

Francavilla’s cover art does its job. The covers alone are enough to get me to want to read these. His traditional use of shadow and tension especially in Hera and Kanan’s face are a great call back to the Goosebump books of the 1990s. Chopper also seems possessed and the source of their fears.

Once the crew lands on Mustafar, they discuss whether or not they should leave the safety of their ship (despite the rising temperature inside) or risk going outside into the molten landscape. During the discussion, CR recalls a story Chopper had mentioned to him. The flashback ensues. This first issue leaves you with a cliffhanger, which makes you wonder if each issue will lead to the next. Although the story isn’t really scary, it does get thrilling and suspenseful. Some older fans may not be as interested, but fans ages from 7-11 should enjoy this series. 

Star Wars Adventures: Tales From Vader’s Castle #1 is available now at your local comic shop or Comixology.

By: Eric Onkenhout