Dark Times #7 (Republic #90)
Parallels Part 2 (of 5)
Story: Mick Harrison
Art: Dave Ross (p.1-18), Lui Antonio (p.17-22)
Coloring: Alex Wald
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Zack Howard, Brad Anderson
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (01/28/2008)
Captain Schurk-Heren of the Uhumele has found a buyer for his secret cargo, an old acquaintance named Haka Hai. The crew meet with Hai at his compound on Mimban, but during the transaction a faction of his employees led by the Gotal Lumbra double-cross the Ishi...with the crew of the Uhumele caught in the crossfire.
After a brief but action-filled appearance last issue, this issue starts with Bomo Greenbark in a moment of rest. Well at least he is trying to sleep. Understandably, he is having nightmares about his wife and daughter, and even gets sick at the thought of his daughter's fate. Restless, he joins the rest of the crew (sans Dass Jennir) in the cargo hold who are about to take a spacewalk outside the ship. Captain Schurk-Heren reveals to him that he, Mezgraf and Ko Vakier are about to go hide a valuable piece of cargo inside an asteroid, although he doesn't trust him enough yet to say exactly what it is. Heren says he has found a buyer, but he wants to hide the cargo as a precaution in case the deal doesn't go through. Understanding that he is still considered "the new guy", Bomo heads back to his quarters. Feeling bad for the Nosaurian, Crys Taanzer invites him to a conversation over a cup of caf.
Crys says she can understand Bomo's pain. She then reveals her tragic past, which parallels Bomo's. She too has lost her husband and child, although under different circumstances. Her story starts on the planet Nadiem, during an event that was told from a different point of view in the story "Hide in Plain Sight" from Clone Wars Adventures Vol.2. In that story, the local population are waiting to be evacuated by the Republic before the droid army attacks their village. Taanzer's husband had been killed in an attack on their village, and Crys and her son Kennan were among the survivors waiting to be evacuated. But the line up was very long, and a Jedi healer approached them. On a hunch, he had Kennan's blood analyzed and discovered that the boy was stong in the Force. The Jedi proposes to take the boy to Coruscant for Jedi training, assuring him a priority evacuation. Crys reluctantly hands over her son, an act which she has regretted to this day. Especially after she heard that the Empire exterminated all the Jedi and Younglings in the Temple on Coruscant. So Crys blames herself for he son's death, even though she has no proof that he is dead.
Cleverly, the story cuts back to Master K'kruhk two months after where he was left off last issue (bringing his story up to the current continuity). Apparently, the shuttle carrying him, caretaker Chase Piru and her youngling charges from the Soaring Hawkbat Clan has crashed on some peaceful planet where they have been living happily. Turns out that Kennan Taanzer has not been training at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant! Not much happens here, except to reveal that Crys' son is still alive, thus offering the possibility of a reunion. Somehow, I'm sure K'kruhk is destined to meet with the crew of the Uhumele.
Speaking of which, the final scene shows them on their way to meet with the secret cargo's buyer, an Ishi Tib named Haka Hai who lives in a fortified compound amid the swamps of Mimban (introduced in the classic Splinter of the Mind's Eye). Hai also doesn't trust his henchman enforcer, a Gotal named Lumbra, with the secret of the cargo being delivered. Captain Heren and crew are carrying an enormous box, which we know doesn't contain the artifact, and ask for the payment. But as soon as Hai signals his men to bring the box with the payment inside, blasters are being drawn on them and a ship blocks the view overhead. Turns out that Lumbra is turning against his employer and plans to take the crate for himself and his men. Now which "crate" he is referring to, the one containing the artifact or the one with the payment, is not made clear yet. But what is clear is that the crew of the Uhumele don't plan on standing helpless in the cross-fire of the double-cross. So they attack, blasters blazing! To be continued...
As you can see, the side story with K'kruhk is slowly catching up with the main story. No sign of Dass Jennir returning though, although Bomo mentions him in his discussion with Crys. And also, learning the backstory of one of the crew is always entertaining. But it drives me crazy not to know what the big secret is about the cargo! I hope it is revealed soon. So far, Dark Times is 7 for 7.
It had to happen... why is it so hard for one artist to complete 5-issue series, or at least a complete issue? This issue has two artists: Ross did pages 1-16 and Antonio worked on pages 17-22. But although this is not specified anywhere, I'm almost sure that pages 17-18 are a combination of both artists, i.e. Antonio put finishes over Ross' pencils. The reason for this is that those two pages are very close in style to the beginning of the story, while having some stylistic elements of Antonio's artwork. However, those two pages are missing a few details (for example Crys' tank top without its stripes, Ko Vakier missing his nose tattoos, Heren missing an earring, etc.) But from pages 19 on the style is completly different. The switch is not only apparent in the style (cleaner artwork overall) but also in the details (beady eyes, scar-like facial lines). Also aside from the already-established characters, Antonio does not seem to have done his Star Wars research. All the background characters among Hai's organization are total fabrications and not based on any known species, unlike previous issues of the series where careful attention was paid in choosing existing aliens. The technology is also very un-Star Wars, especially the blasters, most of which look either Earth-based or very sci-fi laser gun. Ross' style is much more faithful to the tone established by Douglas Wheatley in the first story arc "The Path to Nowhere". Although it is not bad in itself, Antonio's work just doesn't compare.
At least, the cover artist Zack Howard (with help by colorist Brad Anderson) is the same through the whole "Parallels" story arc.
The story gets more intriguing as we learn about Crys Taanzer's past and a bit more about the Uhumele's mysterious cargo. The last pages of artwork are not as good as the beginning.
Rating: 7.5 / 10 Highly Recommended