Star Wars Adventures: Tales from Vader’s Castle #5 Review

by Kaasen Koy on October 31, 2018

Tales from Vader's Castle #5 Cover

Writer: Cavan Scott

Artists: Derek Charm & Charles Paul Wilson III

Colorists: Derek Charm & Michael Devito

Letterer: Robbie Robbins


Star Wars Adventures: Tales from Vader’s Castle #5 is the final issue in IDW’s all-ages Halloween anthology series, this time centering around the band of adventurers who have unknowingly wandered into the eponymous fortress on Mustafar.

You would imagine that an idea for an anthology miniseries such as this begins with the end. The cover of each issue has shown the starring characters contained within Vader’s silhouette, despite his absence from the pages within. The characters who appear for a few pages at the margins of each previous tale, serving as little more than narrators, have now become the final act’s primary heroes. It has all been building to this... or rather it should have been. 

Unfortunately, Tales from Vader’s Castle #5 serves the previous (often lackluster) tales, much more than it has been served by them. It tries to tie the whole anthology together in a wholesome resolution wherein our band of rebels realize the lessons held within each tale. The problem is, while a couple of the stories knew their audience and blended mature themes with cartoonish accessibility, most of the tales lacked any real lessons, and almost all of the heroic solutions involved luck or coincidence.


This is a series that needed to cut its losses, and instead it wastes the final pages trying to elevate them. It’s a seemingly random pattern of completely contrived and shoehorned callbacks to the prior stories, missing the point of some, ignoring others entirely. At one point our heroes remember that the Jedi and Sith “worked together” (dubious) back in the story told during Issue #2. Thus, they apply the (misguided) moral of that story and reprogram some of Vader’s guardian droids to fight for them. I admit, the purpose of Issue #2 remains unclear for me, but reprogramming a droid to attack its master does not equate to two enemies working together to achieve a common goal.


Derek Charm’s art and color has been relegated to the margins throughout this series, but it takes center stage here. It’s bright and chunky and looks like the kind of television cartoon you might catch after a long day of elementary school. In what has become a hallmark of this series, there’s some odd, clashing art in the unnecessary flashback-ghost-story sequence. These twelve panels are delivered with a more mature art style and go all-in on the dark terror theme, rather than the main story’s fun, spooky art style.


That kind of inconsistency has marked Tales from Vader’s Castle at every turn. The individual books are internally inconsistent, the art is often inconsistent from page to page, the target age group seems to swing as often as the art style, and the quality is so inconsistent that I wouldn’t say any two issues would even share the same letter grade. Tales from Vader’s Castle #5 isn’t necessarily a bad comic in its own right - some of the best writing in the series lies in these pages - but it relies heavily on the anthology’s previous misfires to set the stakes and give this conclusion meaning... and they simply don’t. 


Too often the series has been underdeveloped and under-planned, and I don’t know if the success of this issue could have saved Tales from Vader’s Castle as a whole. Before the stories lost their way, the first issue offered a glimmer of hope that this could be the kind of series where you might reach for a well-worn paperback copy, year after year, as part of a Star Wars Halloween-time family tradition. This final issue cements the fact that it won’t be.




Our Score:


A Look Inside