Dark Times #2 (Republic #85)
The Path to Nowhere Part 2 (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 (08/04/2007)
The last two survivors of a massive Imperial attack on New Plympto, former Jedi General Dass Jennir and Nosaurian rebel Bomo Greenbark have found refuge aboard the smuggler ship Uhumele. They have found allies in the crew who are no friends of the Empire, but after finding out that stormtroopers are searching every ship in the spaceport they now have to find a way to escape. Dass Jennir comes up with a plan to have all the ships lift off at the same time, covering their escape. Now they have to go to Orvax IV and rescue Bomo's wife and daughter, who have been taken captive to be sold as slaves. Bomo only hopes they are still alive.
The action goes by fast in this issue. We are re-introduced to each member of the Uhumele smuggler crew and we learn more of what each of their roles are. We also learn that they all came to their current profession because of problems with the governments, i.e. the Republic and the Separatists, and so they have no reason to trust the new Empire that replaced both. It is no surprise, then, that they would welcome such refugees as Jennir and Bomo among them. They all quickly become friends, even more so after Jennir displays his leadership abilities by coming up with a plan to get the ship off-planet despite the Empire's order to ground and search every ship in the spaceport.
Jennir's plan seems hard to pull off at first: he puts on a 501st legion stormtrooper's armor, and then steals a stormtrooper sergeant's Alpha-3 Nimbus V-wing starfighter. Then he attacks a ship in the spaceport while Captain Schurk-Heren broadcasts an announcement from the Uhumele that the Empire now has an order to destroy every ship and to escape while they can. This creates the confusion that they need to escape, and the only resistance they meet is two other V-wings which they easily dispatch with the Uhumele's secret gun turret and Jennir's stolen fighter.
But the fight is far from over. Throughout all these events, Bomo's mind is always full of worry for his family. He learned that they were taken prisoner by Imperials to be sold on the slave market of Orvax IV. So that must be their next destination. Bomo can only hope that at least one of them is still alive after he hears how horrible conditions are for slaves on that planet. A planet named Ovrax IV (note the slightly different spelling) was first mentioned in John Gregory Betancourt's contribution to the Tales From Jabba's Palace anthology, "And the Band Played On: The Band's Tale". It was the planet where the Kitonak named Snit was purchased by musician Evar Orbus, before he was renamed Droopy McCool. Whether the two planets are one and the same, and if so which has the correct spelling, remains to be confirmed.
This issue is bookended by scenes with Vader on Coruscant. When he learns that Palpatine has diverted the New Plympto stormtrooper regiment's starship to transport prisoners to the slave market, he reflects about his own days as a slave on Tatooine. He is very pensive and seems to be susprised that his master would encourage slavery. It offers a bit more into Vader's reflections and early development as a major villain.
The letter column answers my question from the first issue: that Meekerdin-maa AKA "Ratty" is in fact a Tintinna, the politically-correct name for a Tin-Tin Dwarf. The only other Tintinna characters so far are an unnamed cantina patron in the Star Wars Holiday Special, and Big Bunji's messenger Squeak who can be heard in the Star Wars Radio Drama. (Hey, maybe they are one and the same, making "Ratty" the second Tintinna character in Star Wars fiction...) The lettercol also has a missive from Rebelscum.com contributor Jay Shepard.
I have not much to say about Wheatley's artwork, aside that it is perfect. Each panel is like a little work of art in itself. The amount of detail is just incredible. Every character, starship, vehicle, etc. is represented as perfectly as can be and truly feels as part of the Star Wars universe. One major advantage: this will make one heck of a beautiful trade paperback collection.
This issue has suffered a slight publishing delay, but it's all worth it thanks to the enthralling story and amazing artwork.
Rating: 8 / 10 Highly Recommended