We continue our review series on the Scholastic Book’s Backstories line with an in-depth look at Darth Vader: Sith Lord. When covering the breath of six movies, a handful of comics, books, and more, what do you cover? Read on to find out!
Darth’s Vader’s entry into the Backstories line is joined by the likes of Superman, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, and Harley Quinn. It almost seems unfair to put some of these characters on the same level, doesn’t it? But that’s the fun of the current pop culture climate: extraordinarily well known characters like Superman and Darth Vader can share a series with Batgirl and recently famous Harley Quinn. As the series goes on, it is exciting to think that we will start to see more obscure characters rise up next to extraordinarily well known characters.
For characters like Superman, they have appeared in recent movies, but they have years of history under their belts that children wouldn’t necessarily know right now. This is no longer the case with Star Wars, as the canon is still in its infancy. Although, with the still fairly fresh reboot of the canon, there are few characters with enough information to fill a single volume right now. For children, there could still be far too much to keep track of. As of now, we’ve seen Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in seven films, two TV shows, a handful of comics, and quite a few novels. Actually, it may not be too much for only children: even adults might struggle to keep up!
This is where Backstories: Darth Vader: Sith Lord comes in. While it does not cover the breadth of the canon, the book gives us a chance to step back and catch our breaths on his backstory. This volume collects Anakin’s journey from the Saga films, mixing in a chapter on the Clone Wars, focusing on Ahsoka and the Mortis trilogy. While some might be disappointed by the lack of Gillen’s Darth Vader run, simply due to its size the book could not support much more information. But for a younger reader, there is a wealth of knowledge to help them understand who Vader is and what happened to him.
The book seems to take a lot of time in the Prequel Trilogy. While it is not as if the canon has ignored the Prequel Trilogy, it is nice to spend more time in the era thanks to the book! I can also say how nice it is to see The Clone Wars material co-mingled with movie information. When we binge TCW on Netflix, we may do so outside of the context of the movies. This is a nice way to re-structure our thinking, and remind ourselves of the wider context of one of our favorite shows. For kids, who might find it harder to connect all of this information, it helps widen their imaginations. Without dumbing anything down, even children are going to be able to start to recognize the type of work the Story Group is pulling together now.
This book is the perfect bite-sized book for kids and parents who want to read for their kids. By toning down the breadth of information, the book is far more easily digestible than many books have been before. This is the perfect entry point for young readers, and allows them to feel like bigger parts of the whole canon. In that sense, I can joy in the book that I couldn’t when I focused on myself.
It is again worth mentioning the artwork of Randy Martinez and Rick Burchett. The illustrations are charming, and a lot of fun! Seeing the Father, Ahsoka, and young Anakin based on Jake Lloyd drawn in a single medium is a lot of fun. This does contribute well to the overall narrative cohesion of the stories.
In the end, Darth Vader: Sith Lord is a fun way to revisit the Saga, with a side adventure in The Clone Wars. Don’t expect the same wealth of material as Princess Leia: Royal Rebel. But, for the entry price, the book is a fun romp for kids through the story of one of the most iconic villains of all time. There’s nothing wrong with the presentation nor the source material. Any complaints I have about the book are personal, and come from the perspective of being entirely wrapped up in the world beyond what can be covered in a children’s book.
Canon Novel Reviews:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars Young Reader Reviews:
Adventures in Wild Space: The Escape (Prelude)
So You Want to be a Jedi?
Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
Poe Dameron: Flight Log
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel (Backstories)
The Force Awakens: Finn’s Story
LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Reviews:
“A Hero Discovered” 1×01 | “The Mines of Gabralla” 1×02 | “Zander’s Joyride” 1×03 | “The Lost Treasure of Cloud City” 1×04 | “Peril on Kashyyyk” 1×05 | “Crossing Paths” 1×06