Realizing the symmetry between one’s personal life experiences and those found in science fiction film and literature is an exciting element in the spirit of fandom. These connections inherently become the personal bonds that many fans hold so dear because they give credence to that which otherwise is simply fantasy. When you witness a moment in real life that reflects a moment in fiction, you can’t help but swell up with pride in both the astuteness of your favorite genre and your own cleverness to realize it. But in those moments when works of fiction intentionally reflect our own lives, we can’t help but take notice even more.
Published by Chronicle Books, Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown is an intentional perspective of the realities of raising a child through the lens of one of our favorite villains. Yeah, that’s what I’m calling it because it sounds all “literary” and makes for a good excuse to write about it. But in the end, it is a heartwarming book of real life reflections. It’s good plain fun and made me smile. It made me take notice.
The artwork is simple but colorful and the bright images are easily recognizable to the loyal fans of Star Wars. To a parent, the pages are filled with identifiable moments in child raising where most of us sit back and say, “Oh, yeah, I’ve been there.” The book is both written and drawn by Jeffrey Brown and it is clear the emotion in each pane is cohesively provided by both a parent and a fan. Sometimes Brown’s words are what drive the images while his art is the spark to the dialogue on other pages.
How many times have we referred to the “not the droids you’re looking for” scene? Having a young Luke Skywalker excitedly pointing out a cluster of Jar Jar stuffed figures on a toy store shelf is symbolic of every parent struggling with a child wanting some worthless plaything. Knowing from experience the kid will never enjoy it as much as their desire to want it is controlling that decision, it is our moment to shine as teachers. Some parents give in while other hold stern. But what would Darth Vader Do? Of course he would use the Force and simply say, “This isn’t the toy you’re looking for…” Imagine our lives if we had the Force to help us raise children.
The image of Vader reading bedtime stories about Darth Maul destroying Qui-Gon or his hesitation to answer when young Luke asks where babies come from are awkward, but they are also real life situations put at ease in these Star Wars perspectives. Many of us face decisions about the proper time and place to discuss delicate or scary subjects, but seeing Vader put in these same situations makes it a lot more palatable. If the most vicious dude in the galaxy is shook up a little, than I shouldn’t feel so bad if I feel uncomfortable in the same situation.
There are a lot of classic scenes put to common everyday experiences here. Vader shows pride when his son gets a medal (even though it was for blowing up the Death Star). Vader uses the force to search for Luke, and the boy’s “thoughts betray” him (even when playing hide-n-seek). Luke is just interested in getting a cookie when the Vader tries to convince his son to join him, “Together we can rule the galaxy as father and son!” This will bring entirely new meaning to that scene in the movie the next time I see it.
Readers will also find some ambiguous images that have no direct ties to the Star Wars world, yet they are just as heartwarming if not funny seeing the man in black face the same circumstances as us. Things like Vader giving Luke a piggy-back ride or teaching him to ride a bike bring the characters into “our” galaxy. These are the images provided more for the parent than the fan, but I’m sure both audiences will recognize and appreciate the humor in them.
Another clever instance is when a member of the Imperial Army uncomfortably tells Darth, “Er, he looks just like you, Lord Vader.” This typical comment toward a parent and child is put to the ultimate test of “sucking up” when a blond headed little boy is walking next to a man wearing a black respirator mask. I will never be able to say or hear that compliment again without thinking of this book.
This is the perfect book to keep on hand if you want to impress your guests. It won’t intimidate your non-literate friends and it won’t demean those who are. If the party turns dull and you are in need of a conversation topic, simply open the book to a random page and discuss.
Parents will find Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown a pleasurable look at the realities of raising children through the lens of the Star Wars galaxy. Members of fandom will find it a unique perspective on some of the more memorable moments in their favorite story. Parents who are also fans of the franchise will consider this book a loyal companion containing two of their most cherished things, their kids and Star Wars.
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Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown is an intentional perspective of the realities of raising a child through the lens of one of our favorite villains. In realizing the symmetry between one’s personal life experiences and those found in science fiction, readers will discover the fine line between fandom and parenthood.