One of the things I’ve been loving about Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle is seeing what horror tropes each issue is going to be using. Thanks to both the regular and variant covers for this issue it didn’t take long to see that in issue four were going to be tackling another classic that doesn’t see a whole lot of use nowadays, the ‘creepy kid’ genre. That’s right, it’s time for little Anakin Skywalker to go full on Omen.
With how the rest of the series has operated I should have twigged that something was wrong straight away, as the first pages of the book were not drawn by Francesco Francavilla, who has been doing the non-nightmare sections of the book. This should have been a huge tip off that what I was seeing wasn’t real, but I’ll admit, I wasn’t quick enough to pick up on things, so once events began to shift into more horrific themes it was a genuine surprise.
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The issue begins with Lina Graf and her rag-tag team of allies trying to break their way through a small Imperial blockade so that they can reach Mustafar, where they believe her brother Milo has been taken. It all starts normally enough, with Jaxxon trying his best to get past the enemy TIE-fighters whilst arguing with the team, but things take a sudden shift when everyone but Lina seems to vanish. Not only that, but the Imperial attack stops too. Alone on the eerily quiet ship, Lina begins to worry that something awful is happening.
Little does she know how right she is, as the pilot’s chair turns to face her, revealing little Anakin Skywalker as seen in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. If the sudden appearance of a strange child wasn’t unsettling enough, he comes complete with yellow Sith eyes and creepy voice. From here the little Anakin chases Lina through the ship, tormenting her with her fears, throwing things at her with the Force. It’s a lot of fun.
A lot of the other nightmare sections in the series so far have failed to really go into much around the characters who are having them. They get to live through these awful events, and get pretty shaken by them, but for the most part they just seem to be things that they’re having to live through with no real impact upon them other than leaving them feeling freaked out. This issue, however, seems to tie it into who Lina is a lot more, and a lot of her fears and insecurities are dragged to the fore as young Anakin uses them against her. It makes it feel like of those we’ve seen so far this is definitely the more important of these nightmare sequences, and one that may have a lasting effect.
As in previous issues the non-nightmare sections are provided by Francesco Francavilla, and their art is great here as always, with the Rabbit’s Foot interior coming off as creepy as Mustafar, showing that the horror of what’s going on has already begun to get to our characters and make them afraid and on edge no matter where they are. The rest of the art on the issue is provided by Chris Fenoglio, who has previously worked on a Star Wars horror story on Cavan Scott’s previous series Star Wars Adventures: Tales From Vader’s Castle. Fenoglio has a very different style to Francavilla, and his work is much neater and more cartoonish, which worked surprisingly well considering how creepy the evil Anakin was in this issue. I did like that they went for a more cartoon-like style for the nightmare featuring children too, as it felt like a good narrative fit.
Now that our heroes are finally on Mustafar we’re all set for an exciting conclusion, and this issue gives us some hints as to what might be coming. Fingers crossed the good guys will all get out of this one alright.
Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle #4 is out on 13th October from IDW Publishing.