Ewok Courage is no Match for a Gorax’s size in Tales From Vader’s Castle #4.

Size matters not in the penultimate issue of Star Wars: Tales From Vader’s Castle #4, written by Cavan Scott; art by Derek Charm. This week’s guest artist is Robert Hack (Archie Horror).

It Is The Courage To Continue That Counts.

Issue #4 of Tales From Vader’s Castle raises the stakes as Lina and Crater split up in search of their friend Hudd. Bodyguard droid G3 is left with the notoriously frightened technician Skritt. This issue gets to the flashback scene much earlier than previous issues. G3 attempts to reassure his friend Skritt by reminding him that size does not always equal courage, and offers to tell Skritt another story to overcome his fear. Remembering last weeks issue, I laughed out loud when Skritt exclaimed, “Actually no…I don’t think it would. Not after the last one.” Ignoring his friends’ honesty, G3 jumps right into a daring tale of courage displayed by Ewoks Chirpa and Logray when faced with the fate of their village and the brute size of a Gorax.

As the tale starts, Chirpa and an Ewok called Ra-Lee are on the hunt for a giant boar-wolf, which is precisely what it sounds like. After capturing their prey and returning it to Bright-Treet Village, an eerie quiet creeps over their home. They soon learn from Chief Buzza that all of the woklings have been taken overnight from their baskets. Ra-Lee immediately assumes the evil Doluks are responsible for this heinous act. Chief Buzza agrees and vows vengeance against the Duloks. The shaman Makrit, however, does not agree that war is the right path and advises Buzza to rethink his ideas. To Ra-Lee’s surprise, her father Buzza agrees with Makrit. Along comes Makrit’s apprentice, Logray who sides with Ra-Lee that the Duloks need to be dealt with.

I’d have to say that this story is the most complex in the series thus far, but Scott does an excellent job of keeping it simple enough for younger readers to follow (younger readers meaning myself).

Chirpa and Logray before they became chief and shaman.

Shortly afterward, Ra-Lee, Chirpa, Logray, and Makrit arrive at a deserted Dulok camp where they are confronted by a Dulok. In typical Star Wars fashion, the name of the character is the same as the species. It is revealed that Makrit was in league with Dulok to sacrifice the woklings to The Great Devourer, a giant Gorax.

Scott was determined to get Ewoks into Tales From Vader’s Castle despite concerns of their cuddly nature. And once Hack signed on as their guest artist, all worries faded. Hack made it a point to illustrate the Ewoks as terrifying as they appeared in Return of the Jedi and not the more tame version from Caravan of Courage. The striking three-color scheme came from colorist Charlie Kirchoff who was inspired by Hack’s illustrations, creating a team effort between writer, artist, and colorist – all of who fed off each other’s talents. I found the red, grey, and black to be very useful in invoking a more fearsome background.

Natural Art Can Sometimes Be The Best Art

Hack’s sketch-like art perfectly captures the details of the Ewok fur.

I particularly enjoyed Hack’s Gustave Dore’s inspired art which gave the Ewoks a realistic rendition without it coming off as photo-realistic as we see in the Star Wars main title. His lines are “sketchy” but are appropriate in this case, given that the Ewoks are more attuned to nature. The less refined art-style works perfectly here.  I know I’ve been gushing about the work of cover artist Francesco Francavilla, but how can I not? The cover of this issue is especially creepy, where the Gorax is doing its best to look like the girl from The Ring.

According to starwars.com, when this series was initially planned this story was going to take place much later in the timeline and feature Wicket and Teebo. A pre-Rogue One placement was finally agreed upon at Scott’s suggestion and instead feature Chirpa and Logray before they became chief and medicine man, respectively.

Fans of Easter Eggs will enjoy knowing that Ra-Lee was Chirpa’s future wife from the 1980s Ewoks cartoon series. Ra-Lee was featured in two episodes:  “Rampage of the Phlogs” and “Asha.” And the Duloks were also seen in the same series, although in a much less menacing manner.

Star Wars: Tales From Vader’s Castle #4 is available now at your local comic shop and Comixology. Next week (10/31) is the final issue which will feature the Dark Lord himself, Darth Vader!

By: Eric Onkenhout

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