Darth Vader Defends his Lair in Tales From Vader’s Castle #5

Lessons abound in Star Wars: Tales From Vader’s Castle #5, which wraps up this weekly series written by Cavan Scott, art by Derek Charm and this issue’s guest artist, Charles Paul Wilson III (The Stuff Of Legend). The fear of self-doubt is the strongest fear of all.

The action is non-stop, but the end is near for our heroes. The thief turned rebel, Hudd, has fallen at the hands of Darth Vader where he has joined his ill-fated companion, G3. Commander Lina Graf and Skritt remain in a desperate search for their droid friend, Crater. Soon they are confronted by the black-cloaked attendant, Vanee, who we first see inside Vader’s castle in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I love this callback, the first of many in this issue. But any callback to a previous Star Wars film that seemingly has nothing to do with this story is very cool – especially when it makes total sense. However, I found it hard to believe that Vanee, someone who has a close relationship with the dark side of the Force, would break into story-mode in the middle of a conversation. Can you imagine the Emperor and Vader reminiscing about the old days while trying to corrupt Luke on the Death Star? But just like anything else with this series, I take it with a grain of salt. Let’s have fun and not worry about being an adult for ten minutes.

Even The Greatest Heroes Show Fear

The ensuing story tells a tale of a hoard of Mustafarians demanding Vader’s castle be burnt to the ground for invading their land. Their demands are short-lived as Vader wipes out the entire army. Hudd died for taking something that wasn’t his, and so did the Mustafarians. Lesson learned. According to Scott, “Originally, this issue wasn’t going to have a ‘tale-within-a-tale.’” He goes on to say that the contributing factor in including one was the chance to work with the guest artist, Charles Paul Wilson III. I’m not familiar with Wilson’s work, but his illustration of the Mustafarians on the spread (pages 4-5 of the print format), is incredibly detailed. To draw an entire spread of a dozen insect-like aliens is not an easy feat. I loved how enough thought went into the Mustafarian’s that Scott and Wilson even came up with a name, Criakan (whose name was never mentioned in the story), and some backstory for the character.

In an interview done with starwars.com, Scott states that “The idea of a Mustafarian raid on the castle came quite late in the day. Originally, the story-in-story tale in this issue was to be a thief that broke into Vader’s fortress to steal treasures, a plot-point which was actually moved to Hudd, one of the characters in the framing story.”

The Choice To Face Your Fear Is The First Step in Overcoming It

Vader arrives to confront the rebel intruders. Vanee is watering at the mouth, anticipating what his master will do to them. Lina faces Vader without fear or intimidation. She has met monsters before in Tarkin, Korda, and Renza the Hutt, the latter two are references to Scott’s Tales From Wild Space series. This panel made me want to see Lina even more in other forms. She’s right up there with Leia, Ahsoka, and Jyn as far as bravery, and not backing down in the face of evil.

The following pages are where the culmination of the series starts to climax. Lina devises a plan to escape the castle by remembering some of the stories from the previous issues and using those tales as springboards to ideas. Skritt finally begins to overcome his fears by recognizing what it means to be part of a family. I loved the nod to The Last Jedi when BB-8 took control of the imperial walker. Here, Skritt pilots an AT-ST walker and attempts to destroy Vader. Again, an unexpected but appreciated link between the two formats.

I really enjoyed the weekly release schedule for this series, it allowed the series to be read more like one volume instead of 5 separate issues. Instead of reading an issue a month ago and not remembering what happened, the events of the previous issue are still fresh in your mind. Every issue of this series on its own is enjoyable, but when you reach the end of the last issue and see how all the side-stories are essential and how they all served a purpose, it’s brings a sense of satisfaction to the reader. Much like how the non-saga films do. I cannot give Scott enough credit for weaving all these stories together.

Yes, this was supposed to be a Halloween-inspired series, but in reality, it’s a story of how to conquer your fears by using the lessons learned from before. Lina describes this in a very Joseph Campbellian way, “Stories are important. They explain the universe around us. Show us the people we ought to be.” What’s more important than remembering the past and learning from it, and passing that knowledge on to the next generation?

Star Wars Tales From Vader’s Castle #5 is available now at your local comic shop and on Comixology.

By: Eric Onkenhout

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