Dark Times #11 (Republic #94)
Vector Part 5 (of 12)
Story: Mick Harrison
Art: Douglas Wheatley
Coloring: Dave McCaig
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Travis Charest
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (06/29/2008)
Captain Shurk-Heren and the crew of the Uhumele go to a meeting with another buyer interested in their secret cargo, despite Bomo Greenbark's objections. Once they meet with the contact, the historian Fane Peturri, they find out that he's been working for the Empire and more specifically with Lord Vader himself. Vader discovered the existence of Lord Dreypa's Oubliette, a containment chamber that presently housed n Jedi from ages past along with the ancient Sith-created Muur Talisman. Vader also knew that the artifact was in the possession of the crew of the Uhumele and he finally caught up with them. But when the Sith Lord opens the Oubliette and wakes up the Jedi woman, he is met with unexpected resitance.
Now we discover the mystery of the secret cargo the crew of the Uhumele kept hidden in an asteroid and tried to sell to the crime lord Haka Hai in the last story arc. And we also find out what happened to Janks after his capture by the Imperials in issue #6. For those who are keeping track of the timeline, Janks was captured two months after the events of Revenge of the Sith. The opening scene, set "approximately three months after Palpatine declares himself Emperor", finds Janks as a prisoner aboard an Imperial cruiser. This means he's been tortured and interrogated about his crewmates for about one month. He hasn't given any information so far, but a visit in his cell by Darth Vader himself may change all that.
Cut to three weeks later (so a month and three weeks since last issue) aboard the Uhumele in the Expansion Region near Aridus. Captain Schurk-Heren finally thinks that Bomo Greenbark deserves to be told of the contents of the "secret" cargo. The crew didn't trust Greenbark at first, since he was a newcomer, but after the events of "Parallels" they feel that he more than proved his worth by saving their lives. So they promptly open the crate which seems filled with some kind of oily substance, and the Captain explains what he knows of its origins. A strange dark crate was found by miners on Jebble about 1,400 years earlier, and the "Jebble box" changed hands and location over the centuries until it was left abandoned on a desert planet after a war left all the combatants dead. That's where the crew of the Uhumele found it some years earlier, but they never knew exactly what it contained. All they knew is that a lot of people were trying to acquire it and so it was valuable.
Despite the fact that the last meeting with a buyer turned into an enormous disaster, Shurk-Heren still wants to sell the thing and has arranged a meeting with another one of his old acquaintances, a historian named Fane Peturri. As soon as they land and meet Peturri, the crew is captured by stormtroopers and Darth Vader himself takes possession of the cargo. Those who read the the first 4 parts of "Vector" (in Knights of the Old Republic #25-28) will recognize the "Jebble box" as Lord Dreypa's Oubliette in which the Jedi Celeste Morne (possessed by the spirit of the Sith Lord Karness Muur) was put inside along with the Muur Talisman in order to contain its powers. This information is known to Peturri thanks to a holorecording made 4,000 years earlier by a Snivvian named Gryph (at the same time catching up to readers who haven't read the previous installments). He shared this information with Vader and that's why the Sith Lord has been searching for the Uhumele.
In an underground chamber, with the crew chained to posts in a circle around it, Vader impatiently opens the oubliette with his lightsaber. Celeste Morne wakes up form her deep, millenia-long slumber only to see she is still haunted by the spirit of Karness Muur. It is not clear if Vader can see the spirit, but he certainly hears Celeste talking to him and is curious about the whole thing. He has found an ancient Jedi along with a Sith artifact, but I think he's more interested by the former. Celeste is given a quick historical update by Peturri, and then she realizes that Vader is a Sith. Trained as a destroyer of Sith by the Jedi Covenant, her instincts take over and she immediately attacks. The crew of the Uhumele can only watch helplessly as heavy objects are Force-thrown around and lightsabers clash.
This one is a quick read, but it was expected that Celeste wouldn't stand still when she found herself facing a Sith. Now I can see the elements that were quietly incorporated into the "Parallels" storyline to make it fit with "Vector", but without revealing any spoilers. I think this story has some elements that seem to be convenently placed in order for the "Vector" storyline to continue. I guess it's a stretch that Vader would find out about a surviving Jedi from the Mandalorian Wars, and figure out who had her in their possession. But once you get past all that, the story is very enjoyable and intriguing. Now I can't wait to see how Celeste will survive until the Rebellion era.
Hooray for Wheatley! There is no doubt that he is one of the best Star Wars penciller ever, and I can't praise his talent enough. Every panel of every page is an eye-pleaser, and is filled with visual information. It's interesting to see Celeste Morne drawn by a different and better artist than her (awful) previous appearances. Gryph and Zayne Carrick (in a wink-wink camero) are very faithful to Brian Ching's renditions of them. The most visually impressive part of the comic, however, has to be the duel between Celeste and Vader. And it all starts with a pin-up type full-page depiction of the young Jedi jumping on Vader with their lightsabers clashing together. Overall, great work by the artist.
There seems to be some confusion though as to which planet most of the events of this issue take place on. The caption mentions that the Uhumele is close to Aridus, but the planet they ship lands on looks nothing like the previous rendition of Aridus in the classic "The Return of Ben Kenobi" newspaper strips. However, we do see the planet in a couple of panels as the one where the war over the "Jebble box" was fought and where the crew discovered it. We even see some Chubbits among the combatants. Maybe the artist thought that's what the writer intended, but I don't see why the crew would return to the same planet where they found the cardo to sell it. That would be too much of a weird coincidence and would not make any sense. So the way I see it, they found the box on Aridus, and Peturri chose the region as the meeting place, but not the same planet because that would have tipped the crew that something was wrong. Speaking of which, we as readers know what will happen as soon as we recognize Petrurri's face as the same one who stands next to Vader during Janks' interrogation. The look of "I told you so" on Bomo Greenbark's face as he looks angrily at Sherk-Heren is just priceless.
"Vector" continues in the period of the movies! Do not miss this improtant part of the 12-part series.
Rating: 8 / 10 Highly Recommended