Lovefool 04.29.13 | The Skywalkers at Home

Darth Vader a doting dad? Jeffrey Brown shows the evil Sith lord has a heartwarming side as he raises his daughter Leia in Vader’s Little Princess.


May the Fourth be with you, nerdlings!
No, for reals, it’s that time of year. Think Geek is probably already freaking out and I’m trying to figure out if I’ll really be able to cram in a Star Wars marathon before I accompany my aunt on a lengthy outing that afternoon. Because, dude, Star Wars. Seriously. I like to pretend that I have a love-hate relationship with Star Wars because the prequels were so irritating but, at the end of the day, I love Star Wars. We’ve had this conversation before, when I wrote a letter to Brian Wood about his new comic adaptation.
But then something crossed our inboxes here at PLAYBACK:stl that combined my love of Star Wars, all swishy-light sabery-epic-awesome, with my love of squish. Ladies and gentlemen, we have gotten the other side of Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader and Son, the tale of Vader parenting that so captivated the nerd world. We are finally getting Vader’s Little Princess, in which Vader raises Leia “from a sweet little girl to a rebellious teenager.” And let me tell you—it is bringin’ the squee.
I mean, it’s just adorable, like most of Jeffrey Brown’s work, but, also like the rest of his work from Clumsy to his cat books, it made my heart hurt a little. I got teary-eyed. And maybe a little of that is just me being insane but Darth Vader gets hearts cut out of his cape. He’s splashed by a teeny Leia and Luke and eventually ends up getting a big “whatever” from Leia when he calls her out on sending out the plans to the Death Star. She’s not afraid of him at all and it reminds me of the shenanigans I got up to as a teenager because I knew it’d be okay, I wouldn’t get into that much trouble. Leia faces him down about Han, makes him stop dancing his old-man-dad-dance in a cantina and gets up to all kinds mischief with her brother. Vader has to have the “get off the phone” talk, the “stop painting your nails, we have to be somewhere” talk and the “oh, my god, you can’t wear a metal bikini” talk. He tries to get the hang of Leia’s admittedly odd relationship with Han Solo, is baffled by her fashion choices and comes off as charmingly inept, even when Brown has him quoting or paraphrasing the most sinister lines, but it’s hard to be frightened of a bumbling dad trying to talk his daughter into doing her laundry.
In fact, I’m not sure if I’ll look at Darth Vader the same way again. It’s sweet and, somehow, Jeffrey Brown’s charming style turns frightening Darth Vader into just another dad getting his daughter her first TIE fighter for her birthday and knowing she’s not surprised. He makes Leia and Luke, who makes a few appearances, into kids growing up together, happy and safe and a little spoiled. He makes them into a family, which isn’t our usual M.O. around here but the love that Brown has imbued his Vader with just comes off the page, all the promise of that last moment when Anakin peeks out from behind Darth Vader’s mask to save his son and it’s just so touching and sweet and you know I can’t resist that.
And I think you’ll find Brown’s nerdy departure from his usual bittersweet autobiographical comics amazing, as well. You may need a while and a tissue, just in case, but his love for the concept shines through, just like his Vader’s fond exasperation doesn’t quite manage to hide how fond and proud and frustrated he is by his daughter in this story that could’ve been. | Erin Jameson

Here’s the trailer for Vader’s Little Princess, courtesy of Chronicle Books!

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