Review: The Glove of Vader
The Glove of Darth Vader was a 6 book series about Darth Vader’s… well glove. I know this book falls into extended universe bot it was pretty early extended universe. My question is how “canonical” is it in the EU, or how important/rare is it? Also what was the deal with his glove to make it so important? — Eric
My relationship with these bizarre little books started with this cute little bookmark I got at a Half Price Books a long time ago, featuring on it the same image that’s on the book cover there. This particular cover belongs to a compilation of the first three books, which Barnes & Noble released in 1997. It’s a squat, squarish hardback with some of the worst illustrations I have ever encountered, and when I sat down to read it two months ago, I quickly realized a few things about it in response to your question. The series was for children and published in 1992-1993 (the first three books in ’92, the second three in ’93; the second three books are compiled in Star Wars: Book Two from the same publisher in the same format). Each book contains a dubious cast of characters, illustrated fully but not well, and concludes with a strange little “glossary.” In the real world, a glossary is strictly defined as “an alphabetical list of technical terms in some specialized field of knowledge; usually published as an appendix to a text on that field,” but in the universe of Mr. and Mrs. Davids (a couple who should be arrested for crimes against Star Wars), glossary is the appropriate time to brush stupid little children up on the cast of characters for the third time.
The titles of the complete series are The Glove of Darth Vader, The Lost City of the Jedi, Zorba the Hutt’s Revenge, Mission from Mount Yoda, Queen of the Empire, and Prophets of the Dark Side. They make absolutely no attempt to be canonical, logical, or even coherent, and remain simply an excuse for people to spend their money on things with the Star Wars tattoo on them. How canonical? Not even remotely. How important? Not very. Rare? Well, I’ve never seen them outside of these two books, nor have I heard anyone talk about them, and it was hard for me to figure out what they were when I bought them. But rarity is, I think, caused by the badness of the product and not by specialness.
Unless we’re talking “Special Olympics” special. The books tell the story of Palpatine’s insane, mutant, three-eyed son Triclops (because nothing could have three eyes without being a mutant, and because Palpatine would totally name any three-eyed offspring “Triclops”)–and the three-eyed mutant Trioculus, whom the Empire is trying to put into power as a dummy for the insane son. The “Glove” of Vader, supposedly indestructible for no reason the authors care to mention, is the key to his power, because some Dark Side Prophets (who only speak in verse) have declared that the next ruler will wear the Glove of Darth Vader. Because said glove is indestructible, they conclude that it was not destroyed in the explosion of Death Star II, merely flung somewhere. The Imperials could be forgiven for this, not knowing that Luke burned Vader’s armor on the forest moon of Endor, but the authors seem to have forgotten this small detail as well, as Vader’s glove indeed turns out to have been flung . . . and quite a ways, too. While Luke and the gang are helping out a Captain Ahab rip-off on Mon Calamari (he hunts “whalevin”), they discover wreckage from the Death Star deep in Mon Calamari’s oceans. They’ve also happened on it at the same time as Trioculus and his pals. One of the characters graciously expresses surprise that Vader’s glove should be found there, but the explosion of the Death Star, it is explained, had an explosion so powerful it was able to knock bits of wreckage and the glove “many millions of miles.” I’ll say. Mon Calamari is literally on the other end of the galaxy from Endor. Look, I’ll even show you.
The red circle in the lower left-hand corner is Endor. The other is Mon Calamari. Okay, you say, accepted, but this map wasn’t out yet. The authors couldn’t have known they were that far apart. And I say, wow, really? You’re going to defend them that way? You’re still going to defend that “many millions of miles” thing? Look, can I digress into a quick bit of astrophysics here? No? Well, look, one lightyear equals 5.879 trillion miles. Even if you subtracted “many millions” from 5.8 trillion, you’d still have over 5 trillion. One lightyear, by the way, besides equaling more miles than the authors could even begin to compute, is only a quarter of the distance between us and Alpha Centauri–it won’t even get you one star system away, in other words. See that grid on the map? Each one of those squares is 15 x 15 parsecs, or 2391.21 square lightyears. That is 14.057 quadrillion miles. Mind blown yet? I don’t mean to harp but this was one of the lowest points of the entire book. I mean, it was beyond ridiculous. To think a glove (which wasn’t even on the Death Star) could get blown even one planet away–and that bits of wreckage could be surviving the explosion, trip, and entry into atmosphere–it’s obvious trash.
Anyway, there were more delightful points. Yavin IV, the isolated jungle moon the rebels chose for a base because of its obscurity, turns out to be home of the galaxy’s absolute best top-notch physicians, because Luke can’t get his artificial hand repaired on Mon Calamari but has to go back to Yavin IV. There, in the Lost City of the Jedi, a young boy who was supposed to be the protagonist in a Robert A. Heinlein novel but bailed out at the last second is growing up raised by droids and playing with Star Wars action figures, I kid you not. His name is Ken and he lives in the underground lost city of the Jedi that just so happens to be on Yavin IV. He decides to run away on the very day his idol, Luke Skywalker, is strolling around. Also, Trioculus is there because the glove is making him go blind (his mama warned him!), and there’s some super-duper secret healer who lives on Yavin IV. This clown also only speaks in rhymed couplets that could make a cat sick. Insert hints that maybe Ken is Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lost son, which the authors really expect us to believe even though Ken’s only 12 and Obi-Wan was like 65 when he died.
Zorba the Hutt, by the way, turns out to be a bearded and braided old codger who is just devastated by the death of his son Jabba. Hutts, we find out, are experts in human child psychology, love art, and are generally misunderstood beings who like luxury but on the whole aren’t so bad. His revenge fails miserably and he ends slithering through the sands of Tatooine to escape. Trioculus falls in love with Leia, attempts to get her to marry him, but winds up in carbonite. Some other ludicrous things that happen in the course of the first three books are that Lando remains chief administrator of Cloud City–because Empire Strikes Back, like life, has no consequences whatsoever–and Han buys a big house there. Literally. He throws a housewarming party for his sky house on Cloud City, because he doesn’t have any reason to have bad memories of that place. He also starts carrying a ring around and fantasizes about proposing to Leia.
Reading all three of the first books took me about half an hour. They are liberally illustrated, as I think I mentioned already, but the pictures are generally horrible and do little to make the action make sense. Of course, they were a lot better than the second book. At first, I only flipped through Book Two looking at the pictures–and let me tell you, the BDSM subtext was pretty evident all through. My roommate asked me if I was reading some kind of bizarre erotic novel.
Apart from the giant spiderwebs attacking Luke and Ken, there was also Leia in a cage, Zorba the Hutt strung up by his wrists, and even more, if you can believe it. The plots also continue to get even shakier. Dagobah has undergone a sudden transformation from Yoda’s uninhabited retreat to a major rebel enclave–and somehow the rebels have not only built a really snazzy science center there, but it was there long enough for them to decide to change the name after Yoda died. Because the authors apparently never even saw Empire Strikes Back and don’t remember Luke saying “I’m not picking up any cities or technologies . . .”
Even more rhyming in this book, only it’s not couplets anymore, and that makes it even worse. The authors even attempt to tell small children what quatrains are. (Not that I’d give small children these horrible books.) Triclops turns out not to be insane, just a pacifist with an eye in the back of his head, and as the novel progresses, we find out that he, and not Obi-Wan, is Ken’s father–holy shock! Yeah, ’cause we didn’t see that coming a mile away.
Han and Leia also make a digression to a place called, I kid you not, Hologram Fun World, which is supposed to be a knock-off on Las Vegas, and they attempt to get married there, find out Lando has recently bought the entire planet (because he lost Cloud City to Zorba the Hutt in a card game or I don’t know what) and that they need to have their birth certificates before they get married. Han, in case you were curious, has his birth certificate neatly stowed in a safe box in his home on Cloud City. Leia’s, however, was destroyed on Alderaan. She gets captured by Zorba the Hutt, almost killed, then almost married to Trioculus who has been unfrozen. In the end, the rebels win the day, again, and Han and Leia get married.
In conclusion, there is pretty much nothing in these books that 1) is not contradicted in a real book, 2) makes any sense whatsoever, no matter what planet you are from. I suggest avoiding them entirely, although a number of people on Goodreads are amused by the “campy read.” Little too campy for me. Little too like camping in the creepy woods where some toothless rednecks are going to put a serious hurt on you and you’ll get poison ivy.