Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.
LEGO Star Wars: Terrifying Tales is the follow-up to last year’s LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, which featured Rey on a time-hopping journey through the Skywalker Saga to teach her the true meaning of the Holidays, yadda yadda yadda. It was, as is the case for all LEGO stuff, firmly tongue-in-cheek but also filled with a lot of heart and some on-point character writing. We’re probably a half-decade away before the nostalgia factory starts demanding Disney revisit the sequel characters post-The Rise of Skywalker, and last year’s special was a nice way to keep them present in the ongoing content churn-and-burn even if it isn’t strictly canon to everything else. Plus, it was hysterical, lovingly poking fun at the franchise and some of its sillier conceits. Kylo Ren meeting Grandpa Vader? Classic. I’m already looking forward to rewatching it during the holiday season in a few short months, along with my other annual traditions.
Unfortunately, Terrifying Tales is a huge letdown by comparison. This special, which promises a spooky approach to the Galaxy Far Far Away, doesn’t really lean into the spirit of its season. The story takes place after The Rise of Skywalker, with Poe Dameron crash-landing on Mustafar and learning that Vader’s castle is being repurposed as a luxury hotel by Grabala the Hutt. Poe doesn’t think that’s such a good idea, seeing as it’s the former residence of a mass murderer and filled to the brim with ancient Sith artifacts of unspeakable evil. Sure enough, Vader’s former vizier, Vanee (Tony Hale), takes it upon himself to give everyone a tour of some of the relics.
This special, which runs about 45 minutes, is split into the framing story and three separate stories centered around Vader’s artifacts. The mask of Ren launches us into a retelling of Ben Solo’s transformation into Kylo Ren, with a Lost Boys twist. A lightsaber leads into a story about Darth Maul fighting General Grievous (they’re both mechanical zombies in a sense, get it?). Finally, a Wookiee’s Paw shows us a Galaxy where Luke Skywalker got everything he wanted at the start of Star Wars — joining the Academy, becoming a pilot, becoming powerful too soon.
The first segment is the strongest but even then probably only makes sense to those of us who have read the extremely short The Rise of Kylo Ren comic published in late 2019. The comics are the sole appearance of Ren, whose name and character is confusing and stupid anyway. Seriously, the Knights of Ren look perfectly cool but are pretty dumb, and the comic-book origin made them even dumber, particularly because of Ren himself. At least here he’s given the personality of Kiefer Sutherland from The Lost Boys and voiced by Christian Slater. But … this is a twist on a comic-book storyline that almost nobody read through the lens of an ’80s classic the target audience for these LEGO projects probably hasn’t seen. Why?
The other two segments are pretty forgettable. The Saber of Scardont pits Grevious and Maul in a duel over a haunted lightsaber, but their actual canon confrontation in the Son of Dathomir comic series is much more interesting and dramatic. It’s pretty joyless here besides a few good puns. The third story, The Wookiee’s Paw, feels like it could’ve been the basis for an entire special. Oh wait, it kind of was last year when we saw Rey look at some “what-could-have-been” scenarios during her time traveling. There are plenty of great ways to use “be careful what you wish for,” but the execution is totally lacking.
Everything ties together somewhat for an action finale. The sole horror element for the framing story is a bunch of zombie battle droids. It’s a pretty huge letdown. None of the stories use the Galaxy for horror the way they could. It’s not like Star Wars has never had horror stories in past media, and it’s kind of a shame this special whiffs the premise so hard.
What I Bought
It’s been a month and change since my last Star Wars-related Serial Consumer column. I’d like to do some about the new Star Wars: Visions series once What If…? ends, but we’ll see. Since the end of The Bad Batch, I’ve successfully laid my hands on a bunch of delayed Black Series 6” releases: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Revenge of the Sith), Princess Leia (A New Hope), 501st Stormtrooper, Aurra Sing, ZERO, Lando Calrissian (Return of the Jedi), Koska Reeves. I also received my copy of the Star Wars Epic Collection: The New Republic, Vol. 4 from my buddy Alex in Australia. At least, my collection of Marvel-published Star Wars volumes is up to date.
What I Would Buy
Despite my frustration with this episode, I did get a little excited about a few things. I love Star Wars LEGO and would still love to have the little Knights of Ren in some form, whether LEGO or Black Series. I’d also like a Black Series-scale Spider Darth Maul … or really any Maul with more articulation than the one I own from The Phantom Menace.