Dark Times #1 (Republic #84)
The Path to Nowhere Part 1 (of 5)
Story: Welles Hartley
Script: Mick Harrison
Art: Douglas Wheatley
Coloring: Ronda Pattison
Lettering: Michael David Thomas
Cover: Douglas Wheatley
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (07/15/2007)
On New Plympto, General Dass Jennir and Bomo Greenbark survive the final Imperial attack against the Nosaurians at Half-Axe Pass. They escape to the Cadgel Meadows spaceport where they sneak into a smuggling ship, only to come face-to-face with the whole crew.
[final & alt. covers]
Exactly 9 months to the day since the last issue, the Republic series now continues under a new name that better represents the time period. But it actually continues the story from the "Into the Unknown" two-parter from issues #79-80 by the same writer and artist. Wheatley also handled pencils on the Purge one-shot which precedes this, as the Emperor refers to "the lessons of Kessel". The two storylines will probably merge as the lives of Dass Jennir and Darth Vader might become entertwined somehow.
In that opening scene in Palpatine's throne room, we get a glimpse of what a day in the life of an Emperor is. Palpatine interrupts a conversation with Senator Braxis via Holonet as he gets reports from Sate Pestage and Mas Amedda about various officers and ministers doing this and that. He seems more interested about the report that the 501st were sent to New Plympto to end the local insurgence there. Then he has a short conversation wth his new apprentice about his goals in life.
Then it cuts to the main action on New Plympto. When we last left them, Dass Jennir had joined Bomo Greenbark and the Nosaurians' cause to defend their planet against the Empire. Now some weeks later, it is the final stand at Half-Axe Pass. After Captain Greenbark sees the women and children safely away on transports, including his own wife and daughter Mesa and Resa, he joins with General Jennir who is leading the main defense after the deaths of General Rootrock and Commander Limbfree. All is lost when Imperial TX-130 Saber-class fighter tanks attack, but when Jennir and Greenbark fall into a hole beneath an uprooted tree, they manage to escape the slaughter.
And a slaughter it is. Even when the Nosaurians drop their weapons and surrender, they are gunned down by the stormtroopers.
The 501st is led by Commander Vill. I wonder what happened to Commander Bow who was mentioned in an article from Star Wars Insider #87 and was probably the one leading the 501st around the time of Purge? Anyway, when Jennir and Bomo get out, they find the bodies. All that is left now is to try to save the Nosaurian women and children from suffering the same fate. But when the two arrive at the Cadgel Meadows spaceport, they find that a lot of ships are still there and none seem to have lifted off to carry away the refugess. When one of the ships' hatch opens, Jennir takes advantage of the situation and jumps on the person coming out. This is how he meets with the crew of the Uhumele. From the smugglers Jennir and Greenbark learn that all the refugess were loaded aboard a transport ship by the Empire to be sold as slaves.
This story shows the early atrocities of the Empire. There is no end to poor Bomo's plight as he witnesses one horrible act on his people after another. I really feel sympathy for this character, and I'm glad that he has someone like the Jedi-on-the-run Jannir to help him. And now they are going to have potentially a whole starship crew to help as well. All is not lost, and it promises to be quite an adventure in pure Star Wars flavor.
As usual, Wheatley's artwork is just incredible. All the panels have so many little details in them, I spent a lot of time cheking out all that's happening in the background. The best example of this is the actual spaceport landing pad, which has a lot of ships of different models and types. In some of them, we can even see what's going on inside the cockpit! Wheatley must put a lot of time and care in his detailed work. And he can also put so much emotion in characters' expressions, even aliens. Aside from the Human pilot Crys Taanzer, the crew of the Uhumele consists exclusively of various non-Humans which, much like in Republic #79, seem to be picked out of the first Essential Guide to Alien Species as they look exactly like their representations in the book. Captain Schurk-Heren is a Yarkora; the navigator Lynaliskar K'ra "Sniffles" Snyffulnimatta is an Elomin; Mezgraf is a Togorian; Ko Vakier is a Blood Carver; and the assistant engineer Jank is a Phindian. The only one that is not from the book is the mouse-like engineer Meekerdin-Maa. He looks a bit but not exactly like the Jenet, and not at all like the Ranat or the Tin-Tin Dwarf. Could he be an unhooded Jawa?
I can't say enough good things about the artist, right down to the amazing cover. There is also a pencil sketch variant cover which was limited to 1,000 copies and given to 10 lucky U.S. comic stores as part of a contest by Dark Horse Comics.
PREVIEWS & STUFF
The start of a new action-packed dramatic series, set in the period after Revenge of the Sith.
Rating: 8.5 / 10 Highly Recommended