The following review of Tales From Vader’s Castle #2 contains spoilers!
Star Wars: Tales From Vader’s Castle #2 begins the story of a darkness that encompasses all and yet light is it’s only enemy. It is the story of power and greed. A threat that will never die, where fear is the greatest weapon, and just as you think you’ve won, it lives on in your nightmares. This issue did not disappoint.
The story continues where we left off in the last issue with Lina Graf and company on Mustafar, deciding their next move on their way to find shelter in a nearby castle. As they begin to make their way, Hudd, “discovers a new species of larva.” Soon after the mother arrives (none too happy) to protect her young. In the act of self-sacrifice, the mother, who appears as some mix of crab and acklay, self-combusts spreading a green slime all over Hudd.
After Hudd gets cleaned up, they continue on towards the castle against Hudd’s better judgment, “nothing will come of this, it’ll be like Bray all over again.” In my opinion, this is where this comic really takes off. As with the preceding issue, the middle part of this story is all flashback with cameos by some main characters. Last week was Hera and Kanan, this issue showcases Obi-Wan Kenobi, Adi Gallia, and Count Dooku. The flashback takes place during The Clone Wars era.
Easter eggs were a-plenty in this story. Let’s start with the planet Bray, the location of the flashback. Bray was named after Bray Studios where the Hammer movies were filmed. Hammer Studios is the famous British production company that produced classic horror films such as The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Mummy (1959), Dracula (1958) and countless others many of them, sequels. Like I said in my preview blog, featuring Christopher Lee as Count Dooku was a no-brainer for writer Cavan Scott and Lucasfilm creative Michael Siglain.
Before I get to the delicious Dracula easter eggs, I want to mention the flashback artwork by Kelley Jones (Batman, The Sandman). His version of Obi-Wan is reminiscent of the iteration of Obi-Wan in the old Marvel comics issue #24 (1979) except the gray hair is now brown. But his serious demeanor is all there. It stuck out to me because that issue was my first issue and I will never forget it.
In the story, Obi-Wan and Adi are sent to Bray with Clone Troopers to help the Brayans fight against an evil darkness. The two Jedi soon find themselves attacked by possessed mynocks, with their devilish red eyes and sharp teeth reminiscent of werewolves. The Brayans called them “creatures of the night,” a call back to Dracula calling his wolves “children of the night. I couldn’t help thinking about the failed Dracula vs. The Wolfman movie, which was in pre-production when it was abandoned. One has to wonder if that movie was in the back of Scott’s mind when he wrote this. One of the troopers gets scratched by an infected mynock and soon turns into one of them. Much like a person turns into a vampire once bitten.
The two Jedi attempt to find the answers in a nearby lair where they finally encounter Count Dooku. Scott and Kelley took full advantage of Dooku’s character and did not disappoint. When Dooku first appears its an almost exact copy of Lee’s first appearance as Dracula at the top of the stairs; his dark cloak covering his body, his face covered in shadow.
One particular panel nearly knocked me off my couch when I saw it. A close up of the Count’s eyes as they squint threateningly. I was looking into the eyes not of Dooku but of Count Dracula.
Woah! It is revealed that Dooku had no power over the mynocks, that power came from Ravna, Lord of Darkness. This is an obvious play on Dracula, Prince of Darkness. Ravna herself appears to be a vampire bat on steroids. The two have struck a deal to rid the galaxy of Jedi. The mynocks are minions of Ravna, much like Dracula keeps his minions under his power.
Ravna eventually turns on Dooku and infects him with a scratch. Dooku is now possessed. In an unlikely move, Kenobi tries to help Dooku by antagonizing him enough where his anger is enough to break Ravna’s influence. Dooku’s rage is another direct take from Dracula as the vampire is enraged to find one of his underlings trying to bite the neck of Mr. Holmwood, the librarian Dracula hired. His bloodshot eyes wide — his fangs ready to reek bloodlust. Dooku and Ravna grapple in an embrace much like Frankenstein and The Wolfman, entombing the beast.
For fans of Hammer films, young and old, this issue of Tales From Vader’s Castle is a delight to read in which I highly recommend. It’s the perfect Halloween treat. I very much appreciated the fact that despite the age-range of this series, the story builds and does not allow itself to be simplified. Bravo to Scott and Jones for a brilliant job.
Star Wars: Tales From Vader’s Castle is available now at your local comic shop and Comixilogy.
Interested in my review of Tales From Vader’s Castle #1? Check it out here.
By: Eric Onkenhout