Today my son and I sat down after breakfast and read Darth Vader and Friends by Jeffrey Brown. In this iteration of the galaxy, Darth Vader wants to crush the rebellion of children who just won’t listen. In Darth Vader and Friends the artwork is always endearing and the text is often funny. I am a fan of these books because they come from a really good place. Brown’s Darth Vader series celebrates the entire Star Wars saga and embraces the fun there is to have with the galaxy in comedic situations. Parents and children can identify with the predicaments in the book while celebrating their fandom of old and new.
My son is not really old enough to get the humor in the book. But he does enjoy the art. I enjoy a lot of the humor. There’s a panel taking fun play on a classic line from Luke Skywalker “I grew up here, you know. There’s really nothing to see.” Little Han Solo looks around and sees Rontos, Dewbacks, Podracers, Jaws, Banthas, droids, Tusken Raiders, and spaceships in the sky. It is a funny juxtaposition showing everything we love about Star Wars and how mundane it is to its main inhabitant, Luke Skywalker.
Every now and then there’s a panel that doesn’t work perfectly. Chewbacca eats the all the pizza. Kid Han, Luke, and Leia are sad as Han proclaims “Chewie, that pizza was for ALL of us!” I felt there might have been a funnier joke there using the net from Return of the Jedi, the moment Chewie actually thinks with his stomach. That said, I still can’t hate the panel. It is cute. Chewbacca’s expression while he chomps on pizza with some sauce on his face makes me smile.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s tons of winning panels in this book. One of my favorites are two Stormtroopers asking “Why do we always get stuck on hide-and-seek duty?” While the kids giggle in the smuggling compartments of the Falcon. Or just the premise of Lando losing the Falcon to Han in a game of marbles is enough to make the book feel delightful. You even feel bad for Lobot when he sees Lando and Nien becoming best friends. Oh yeah, and bonus points for the inclusion of Jaxxon in one panel too!
I really cannot recommend Darth Vader and Friends enough, honestly. I love reading this series to my son. He brings me the books often so I can read them to him. Parents know that it is a rare treat when you enjoy the books you’re reading your small children. That said, I think I would enjoy the books even if I were not a parent. But I can only really see this through a parents eyes because I can’t even flip through it without my son wanting to read it with me. Jeffrey Brown nails these every time. I hope someday all the books are collected and offered in a large size too. The current size makes them available at a great price point of $14.95 in the U.S. and Amazon generally has them for a bit cheaper anyhow.