It’s a shame that the final issue of Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle has already arrived. On the one hand, this has been a wonderfully fun and creepy series that has made the Halloween month great for Star Wars fans, but on the other it’s finally come to a close. Thankfully, this final issue manages to retain the amazing quality that we’ve had already, and perfectly sticks the landing.
The issue picks up where the last one left off, with our group of ragtag heroes on the volcanic planet of Mustafar, literally standing on the doorstep of Castle Vader. With Lina’s brother Milo having been kidnapped by the twisted villain Vanee, it’s down to them to come to his rescue, but returning to the frightening halls of the place where they’d previously barely survived is a big challenge for them.
There’s a genuine amount of tension as the book starts. We don’t know what’s inside the castle waiting for our heroes; we’re on just as much a back foot as they are. Vanee could be working alone, but the halls could also be filled with Imperial remnant waiting to hurt them. Or there could even be the spirit of Vader himself waiting to do something awful.
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Now, having watched Return of the Jedi I know that after he died Anakin Skywalker became a Force Ghost. I know that he was somewhat redeemed and ceased to be Vader. I also know that there has been no hint or mention of a ghostly Darth Vader or a resurrected Darth Vader in other Star Wars canon set after his death. However, Cavan Scott genuinely had me wondering throughout whether something bad could really happen here. Part of me was thinking that this must be some kind of delusion by Vanee, or some other kind of entity behind it all, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that Vader might come back, if even just briefly. The fact that he had me thinking a pretty impossible idea could be possible speaks to the strength of the writing of this book, and how much the theme of fear and horror had permeated the story.
I’m not going to say how the story ends because you definitely need to read it for yourself, but I will say that we do get a definitive answer by the time it comes to a close. That Scott does give us a conclusion that feels well earned and makes sense, whilst also being tense right up to the last moments. And speaking of last moments, I can’t tell you what it is, but the last page of the book gave me a genuinely wonderful reaction. I adored how this story wrapped up, and think that it makes a worthy addition to the canon.
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Because this book doesn’t feature any of the weird dream sequences as has previously appeared in the other issues there’s only the one artist on this book, Francesco Francavilla. Francavilla has worked on the other four issues, providing the artwork for the sections set in the real world that bookend the spooky stories, but here they provide the art for the entire issue and it works really well. Their art style is perfect for a horror story, and the thick dark lines and heavy shadows, coupled with darker colours, really helps to improve the spooky atmosphere of the book.
Where some of the other Star Wars Adventures titles can sometimes lead to a mixed bag, Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle has been the most consistently strong series so far, with quality writing and art throughout. If you’ve never picked up any of these titles before because you’ve dismissed them as being for younger readers you’ve definitely done yourself a disservice, and you’ll want to rectify that immediately by grabbing this title.
Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle #5 is out on 20th October from IDW Publishing.