Return to Vader's Castle #2 Review

by Sam Jarron on October 09, 2019

In this issue, Tarkin becomes Doctor Frankenstein. Literally. Return to Vader's Castle #2 focuses on Grand Moff Tarkin, and it turns him into a Doctor-Frankenstein-like mad scientist. The first issue made Spider-Maul the focus of a horror story, and #2 continues the villain theme with the most famous Grand Moff. Tarkin is actually perfect for this kind of story; Doctor Aphra introduced the idea of the Tarkin Initiative (Tarkin's secret R&D Division) creating monsters out of nonhumans, and Return to Vader's Castle #2 turns that idea into a horror story.

The issue begins with Lieutenant Thom Hudd, the Rebel that was captured during the preceding series (Tales from Vader's Castle), being tortured by Vanee. We learn that he was captured for stealing a statue of a golden goddess (part of me wonder if that part is tied to Vader Immortal somehow...). While the first issue had Vanee tells Thom a story, this issue has Thom tell a story to Vanee; he tells him about one of Tarkin's monsters.

The story begins with Tarkin doing a routine inspection of a Star Destroyer housing a Tarkin Initiative lab. While on board, one of the creatues he personally created (by Frankenstein-ing together multiple different alien species) escapes captivity, and starts coming for him. Tarkin tells Commander Cremp, the leader of the ship, that he's going to hunt the beast. What he does instead is leave entirely, taking a shuttle. He then proceeds to launch an explosive at it, destroying both the creature and all witnesses. And in an actual twist, the creature decides to save the Imperials that Tarkin doomed. He helps them get away in an escape pod, sacrificing his life to stop Tarkin from taking more lives.

I loved this issue even more than the first, mainly because of the twist. We find out that Thom learned the story from Cremp herself; after seeing what Tarkin was willing to do, she defected to the Rebellion. The issue made me expect the monster to be the monster, but the monster ended up being Tarkin himself. In hindsight, the twist makes a lot of sense, since the series is focusing on villains, but I didn't realize it. And at the end, we get another twist: Thom manages to escape his shackles, and the issue ends with him on the run within the Castle. Cavan again proves that he's an amazing Star Wars author; this series is stepping it up yet again. A horror series with real twists that I didn't see coming, with spooky art. I can't wait for #3.

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