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Dark Times: Blue Harvest #0
Prologue

Script: Mick Harrison
Art: Douglas Wheatley
Coloring: Dave McCaig
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Douglas Wheatley, Dave McCaig
Released: 08/05/2009

Reviewed by: JF Boivin (09/24/2009)

SUMMARY:

Former Jedi Dass Jennir has ended up on Cato Neimoidia. In need of money, he is looking for a job that will also allow his to do some good. When a woman walks into the cantina where he waits to post a job offer, Jennir knows he found the right job. Unfortunately, someone else also wants the job and doesn't need any competition. After besting the brutish mercenary a couple of times, Jennir meets up with the woman who gives him the coordinates and an advance to begin his new assignment.


[final cover]


[preview cover]


THE STORY

This issue is the printing of an on-line story that ran in the anthology MySpace Dark Horse Presents #18 (01/07/2009) and #19 (02/04/2009). It served as a preview for the next story arc of the Dark Times series "Blue Harvest". As a fan and collector, I'm really happy that Dark Horse decided to print it, and also offer it as a single issue instead of having to buy one of their MDHP Trade Paperbacks (this story will be included in Vol.4 btw). On top of that, there are some extra goodies included (more about that later).

When we last saw Jedi Dass Jennir in issue #5, he had just killed a man in revenge and stayed behind as the crew of the Uhumele left him. There's a nice one-page recap of his story so far (from Republic #79-80 "Into the Unknown" and Dark Times #1-5 "The Path to Nowhere"), then we find him broke, his only possessions the starship and droid of the man he killed, and looking for a job in a Cato Neimoidia cantina. When a Human woman walks in and posts a job offer, Jennir and many other patrons check out her holovid. Her name is Ember Chankeli and she is looking for a bodyguard to rid her town of a gang harassing them, finally a job that Jennir's Jedi principles would let him accomplish. Unfortunately, a Chistori merc is also interested in the job and doesn't want any competition. A hand-to-hand fight ensues and Jennir shows the reptile who deserves to get the job. He goes back to his ship to wait out the next day's appointment with the lady.

In the second part of the story, Jennir goes to the meeting place and sees Ember with another potential employee, a Human. She explains to them that she needs good fighters to infiltrate a gang that took over her tourist-trade town, and break the organization from within. Then the Chistori shows up, with friends this time. He is still interested in the job and starts a fight with Jennir. The other Human flees as Jennir overcomes all his advesaries in hand-to-hand combat and with a little help from the Force. Ember sees that he is the right man for the job, which he reminds her he hasn't accepted yet. But when she reveals that the gang are slavers, Jennir accepts right away. He is supposed to participate in the gang's recruiting trials two weeks from now and get hired by them. She gives him a chip with the coordinates and some credits, and leaves him until they meet again in the first part of "Dark Harvest".

There is no major action or important events. This 16 page story does exactly what it is intended to: serve as a prologue for the main story arc to come without being essential to that story. It's still engaging, and it's nice to see Jennir return after a long absence.


THE ART

The printed version has a cover and front inside cover, which means they could remove the big titles and credits from both of the title pages of the online version and thus freeing Wheatley's wonderful artwork. But it also means it looses the "Approximately four months after the events in Revenge of the Sith" tagline. And as a bonus, DH are offering the entire 16 pages of Wheatley's original art. Plus four pages of concept sketches of Dass Jennir, Ember Chankeli, Fish, a Chubbit, the town of Noua, the ship and unused cover sketches for issues #14 and #16. Those things alone make it worth spending $2.99 even if you can get the main course basically get for free.

This is not to mention Wheatley incredibly detailed and realistic artwork. Again, he creates a wonderfully lively and engaging backdrop in the seedy parts of Cato Neimoidia, filled with Human and alien lifeforms. The latter include tons of recognizable aliens such as Aqualish, Quarren, Arcona, Chistori, Dresselian, Camaasi, H'nemthe, Drovian, Kubaz, Ithorian, Lannik, Chevin, and of course lots of Neimoidians. But the most susprising appearance is that one of the Chistori's "friends" is a Kilmaulsi, a species which Luke and Leia met a member of when they landed on Vorzyd 5 in the "Gambler's World" newpaper strip and remain unnamed until the RPG sourcebook Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds added it as a playable species. This shows an incredible amount of research.

I always love how Wheatley's artwork also adds lots of details not described in the narration. A perfect example is on the very first page, an establishing shot of the city on Cato Naimoidia and panning to the exterior and interior of the cantina. Right outside the cantina, we can see the Chistori mercenary walking in, a great low-key introduction to the story's antagonist. We can also see Jennir's droid H2 waiting by the entrance. Just looking at the panels, readers can see side stories going on around the main story. Wheatley also creates incredible architectural designs and technology. all this combined makes his artwork feels like we are witnessing a real part of the Star Wars universe.


CONCLUSIONS

A nice little intro story with amazing artwork. And it's also free online, but still worth to get the printed version for the extras.

Rating: 8 / 10 Recommended

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