REVIEW: ‘Star Wars Adventures: Return to Vader’s Castle,’ Issue #1 – “Beware the Horned Devil!”

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Return to Vaders Castle #1

Another October means another spooky series from Star Wars Adventures. In October 2018, writer Cavan Scott took Star Wars fans through a horror Easter egg-filled journey in Tales from Vader’s Castle.  The five-issue series was released as a box set back in April (review here) that is more than worth the sticker price for its stories and amazing art from Derek Charm. Star Wars Adventures: Return to Vader’s Castle #1 is published by IDW Publishing, writer Scott now brings readers back to Vader’s Castle with five issues of spookiness through the month of October 2019.

Return to Vader’s Castle #1, is written by the aforementioned Cavan Scott who has a plethora of credits in the Star Wars Adventures outside of Tales from Vader’s Castle including the series’s previous issue Star Wars Adventures #26 (review here). Scott is joined by artist and colorist Francesco Francavilla, artist Megan Levens, colorist Charlie Kirchoff, and letterer AndWorld DesignTales from Vader’s Castle had a similarly large team that was added on to every issue. With Francvilla appearing in both seriesit is clear that readers will get similarly stunning artwork with each issue of Return to Vader’s Castle.

Return to Vader’s Castle #1 continues the storytelling method established in Tales from Vader’s Castle. The horror stories, featuring prominent Star Wars characters, are going to be told through retellings from central characters as Return to Vader’s Castle‘s story progresses. Tales from Vader’s Castle stories came from the various members of Commander Lina Graf’s crew as they escaped from Mustafar.

In Return to Vader’s Castle #1 readers receive their first story, not from our old heroes,  but none other than the insidious Vaneé. Vaneé, Darth Vader’s faithful attendant, also made appearances in Tales from Vader’s Castle as he attempted to prevent Commander Graf and the other Rebels from escaping Vader’s castle. Instead of the stories being used to help the Rebel’s overcome their fears, Vaneé is using the first story in Return to Vader’s Castle to antagonize a captive.

Vaneé prides himself on his ability to recount stories. After rifling the story possibilities he chooses to tell his guest about the devil. His story begins with a crew being cast out onto Lotho Minor by their droid captain. Captain Spikewell, challenges her crew to spend one night on the Junk World to prove that they are worthy of being a part of her crew. As she flies away, she warns of a haunted labyrinth beneath the planet’s surface. Infighting with the crew leads the crew to plummet into that infamous labyrinth. As they attempt to navigate the depths of Lotho Minor, one of the crew members is taken. This prompts the members to search for their missing comrade.

After splitting up to cover more ground, the missing crew member is found. Unfortunately for the crew, the devil is revealed. A crazed and half-mechanical spider Darth Maul is the being who haunts the labyrinth’s halls. Now, the crew must escape from the Lotho Minor while being chased by one of the scariest iterations of Maul. As it is Vaneé telling the story and not one of the Rebels, the story leads to a much more treacherous conclusion. Maul’s rambling riddles and click-clacking of metal spider appendages echo as he gives chase.

The rest of the issue provides hints and foreshadowing that I believe anyone who loves Maul’s story will get a nice smile out of while sorta rooting for the mechanical devil. This is not the first time that Lotho Minor and Spidermaul have made appearances in the Star Wars canon. Star Wars: The Clone Wars fans will remember when Savage Oppress visited Lotho Minor in search of Maul in “Brothers”.

It is unclear how long Maul has been on Lotho Minor when Vaneé is spinning his story, or if it is even true. That being said Maul seems slightly more together in Return to Vader’s Castle #1, but the creeping psychosis is still apparent. Couple the twisted lines uttered by Maul and the voice of Sam Witwer in the back of my mind together and you get a very eerie situation unfolding in the bowels of the Junk World.

If Return to Vader’s Castle #1 is any indication of what is to come to the rest of the month, I am very excited. Always grounding myself that the Star Wars Adventures line is directed at a young audience, I can’t help but be captivated by writer Scott’s stories. As a horror detractor, these stories are not going to haunt my dreams. However, even if they are coming from less than reliable sources as recounted stories, the October run of Star Wars Adventures continues to provide stories of our favorite Star Wars characters that would be hard to find anywhere else. 

I very much look forward to seeing how writer Scott and the rest of the team can Grand Moff Tarkin even scarier than he already is in Return to Vader’s Castle #2 – The Curse of Tarkin.

Star Wars Adventures: Return to Vader’s Castle #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Star Wars Adventures: Return to Vader's Castle #1


If Return to Vader’s Castle #1 is any indication of what is to come to the rest of the month, I am very excited.

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