Published on July 15th, 2014 | by Ashleigh Mattern0
Darth Vader and Son
Darth Vader and Son by Jeffery Brown is a cute commentary on parenting, and especially enjoyable if you happen to be a Star Wars fan.
Does this review for a kids’ book need a spoilers tag? Technically, the title of the book itself is a spoiler. But can a movie from 1980 be spoiled? Maybe. My husband suggested we buy a copy for our nephew, but I balked, certain that someday the 2-year-old will watch Star Wars, and I don’t want to be the one to ruin the twist for him.
The book is laid out in one-panel comics that are set in places like the Mos Eisley Cantina (various aliens in attendance), the Lars homestead on Tatooine, the Death Star, Hoth, Dagobah, the moon of Endor (Ewoks’ home turf), and some less-familiar places, such as a zoo featuring creatures from the Star Wars universe, including the sarlacc.
There are plenty of inside jokes, even for the casual Star Wars fan, like when an adult asks a trick-or-treating Luke in a stormtrooper outfit, “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” Or when Luke points to a Jar Jar Binks toy, and Darth Vader says, “THIS ISN’T THE TOY YOU’RE LOOKING FOR.” As a casual fan myself, I’m sure much of the fan service went over my head, but I enjoyed the bits I did catch.
There are even some strangely sad parts: The first panel mimics the famous opening crawl, reading, “Episode Three and a half: … Before he can take care of the Rebels, Lord Vader must first take care of his son — four-year-old Luke Skywalker….” And a scene in Cloud City’s central air shaft — where Luke finds out the truth about Vader in The Empire Strikes Back — has Luke climbing dangerously, and Vader calling “LUKE! THAT’S NOT SAFE! COME BACK HERE.” Essentially, Darth Vader and Son is an alternate reality, where father and child were not separated. What would Luke and Vader’s lives been like had Anakin Skywalker not abandoned his children? But I admit, I’m probably over-thinking things here. In a world where Star Wars is merchandised like crazy, adding one more quirky take on this far-reaching piece of pop culture need not be over analyzed.
Darth Vader’s lines are all capitalized, making it easy to imagine his breathy, alpha male tones. And I couldn’t help but be reminded of the web series Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager, which follows a Vader-like character in his job as a manager at the grocery store Empire Market. (Co-creator of the series Matt Sloan did such a good job voicing Chad Vader that he later landed some pretty high-profile voice acting gigs!)
I picked up this book because I had seen some of the comics online, and thought they were hilarious. The printed version did not let me down. And in researching this post, I discovered Brown has a whole series of these titles, including Vader’s Little Princess, Goodnight Darth Vader, and Star Wars: Jedi Academy. I may be reviewing more by Brown soon! Now excuse me while I re-watch all of the Chad Vader episodes.