Star Wars Adventures: Shadow of Vader’s Castle returns readers to the fiery planet of Mustafar, where Darth Vader’s imposing castle still looms over the beleaguered native people, even after the fall of the Galactic Empire at the Battle of Endor, and the death of the dreaded Dark Lord himself.
Written by veteran Star Wars author Cavan Scott, the book manages to pack a load of stories and art styles into its pages. The first of these stories takes readers back in time to the events of Revenge of the Sith, where recently fallen Anakin Skywalker comes to Mustafar for the first time.
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The story follows Kakan, a young Mustafarian who’s dreamt of seeing a Jedi his entire life. Having grown up on stories of these amazing force users and protectors of the innocent, he’s thrilled when rumour reaches him of a Jedi on his planet. Running to the lava mines, he finally gets to see one of these legendary warriors, before realising this is no guardian of the Light. The fallen Anakin chases the child deep into the mines, desperate to eliminate him so there are no witnesses. However, deep in the mines Anakin is exposed to the hallucinogenic toxins in the mists, and is driven further to the dark side because of it.
This story might be pretty short, but it’s one of the ones that I enjoyed most in this collection, mostly because it adds more to events we’re already familiar with. Instead of Anakin having come to Mustafar to kill the Separatist leaders and just waiting for Obi-Wan to come he’s an active force, and the mental torture he goes through when confronted by the twisted, demonic shades of his former Jedi friends adds more weight to his fall to the dark side, and makes it feel more justified. It’s also great to see these twisted versions of heroes like Plo Koon, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Ahsoka Tano.
The rest of the issue jumps forwards more than two decades, to the time of the fall of the Galactic Empire. Just following the Battle of Endor, and the death of Vader, some of the locals are discussing the fact that the castle still stands, and two of them take it upon themselves to infiltrate the castle, and use detonators to destroy it from the inside. During this adventure we get three more stories, as they’re warned against going into the castle, hear a tale of Vader’s cruelty, and try to scare each other with tales of dark side sorcery. Each of these stories is tackled by different artists, and makes them instantly jump out from the main story that’s being used as a framing device.
One of these stories reveals more of the backstory of Vanee, the dark cloaked attendant to Vader seen briefly in Rogue One, as well as several other Star Wars comics, though it being a secondhand tale means that this story might not be entirely true, but merely conjecture. Either way, it offers some fascinating insight into the origin of the character,m and ties into the first story in the book.
There’s also a story that sees a young Twi’lek girl being sent to retrieve a special crystal by a mysterious cloaked figure with powers that’s definitely Palpatine, as well as a story where a scientist tries to double cross Vader. The book is packed with small stories and vignettes that add more to the vast chronicles of the horrors that the Sith lords have committed, and helps to make the star wars universe feel a little more lived in, and shows that Vader and his master were always doing something, always working on one scheme or another.
Star Wars Adventures: Shadow of Vader’s Castle manages to pack in a lot of content, and give insight into characters fans will be familiar with, as well as introducing some new and scary ideas into the lore. It even manages to set the stage for a potentially very exciting new story to come in Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle, which could have some huge implications for the ever expanding Star Wars universe. A great one-shot that offers good value for money.
Star Wars Adventures: Shadow of Vader’s Castle is out now from IDW Publishing.