Dad Vader!

My wife and I decided not to find out the sex of our child before birth, so I splurged and bought a boy and girl copy of Jeffrey Brown’s Star Wars parenting series. Brown takes the mask off of fatherhood, the guise of an enemy so heinous that he can’t help but love the adorable little scamps that will grow up to bring about the downfall of the Galactic Empire. In both Darth Vader and Son as well as Vader’s Little Princess we find what would have happened if Darth Vader had the opportunity to raise Luke and Leia between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.

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Spoiler Alert: These are STILL a better story than Episodes I-III.

Right off the bat, we’re treated to the old familiar scroll, helping to explain where these movies fall into continuity. Luke’s episode is III ½ where Leia’s falls at III ¾. It comes across as goofy, but that’s what you get raising kids sometimes. You’ve got to roll with these younglings in order to survive.

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Luke himself is a four-year-old under the care of Daddy Darth. There are typical moments wherein a toddler learns to ride his bicycle, does the pee dance and hits a baseball (with a lightsaber, of course.) Interspersed throughout these more normal moments of child rearing are scenes plucked straight from the original trilogy, but given an entirely different spin when put into this context.

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It’s quite a bit funnier when Luke whines about being ready, this time not to learn the ways of the force, but to have his father buy him a speeder bike. At least Luke sounds as if he’s reason to whine when he’s a four-year-old and not a teen on some backwoods planet.

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Leia’s journey is quite a bit different. There are a few strips with her as a child, but we soon turn from testing the Lord of the Sith to something completely life-altering: the teen years. There’s an awfully gut-wrenching scene of Vader looking at a Polaroid of the young princess followed with a panel of her shooting up Stormtroopers upon boarding her ship in the opening scenes of Episode IV. If you believed the helmet with no heart, it’s not until you see him with shoulders slumped uttering a sigh that makes you think again.

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There are plenty of dating scenes here, a majority of which include Darth just trying to understand his daughter and her situation. In a fun turn-of-play, Leia tells Han she loves him as in the movies, but Vader can’t make heads or tails as to why she’s crying when Han responds with “I know.”

Through both of these volumes, there are plenty of nods to Star Wars continuity and pop culture. Luke won’t eat his prepared breakfast, but does so readily when his father uses the Force to pour a box of C3P0s. A few scenes with Ewoks and Jar Jar Binks make an appearance, foreshadowing the trouble marketing towards children and even dads in the Star Wars universe can’t quite understand music.