The Wrong Side of the War, Part 2 (of 5)
Story: Welles Hartley
Art: Davidé Fabbri
Inking: Christian Dalla Vecchia
Coloring: Davidé Fabbri
Lettering: Michael David Thomas
Cover: David Michael Beck, Brad Anderson
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (12/19/2005)
While Rebel strategist Jorin Sol is being "interrogated" by the ISB on Kalist VI, his rescuers are getting
deeper and deeper undercover as they gain the trust of the base's commander General Noils and meet Captain Roshuir. The rescue team, consisting of Luke Skywalker posing as "Lt. Jundland" and two Rebel Intel Operatives, also brought along a squad of Rebels to replace the stormtroopers assigned to guard their ship. Meanwhile, Imperial Lt. Janek Sunber is having problems of his own getting caught fighting with his bunkmate and being forced to supervise a couple of extra shifts. Little does he know that the base has been infiltrated by Rebels.
In this issue we find out that the two disguised Rebels who infiltrated the Imperial base with Luke are Intelligence Operatives, and they brought along a group of 10 Rebels dressed up as stormtroopers. And in a nice touch of tying everything together, writer Hartley brought back some characters who appeared in previous issues of Empire. The woman operative is the very sexual Deena (AKA "Lt. Shan"), returning from Empire #22 "Alone Together" (also written by Hartley). The fake stormtroopers are led by Sargeant Basso (who previously appeared in #5-6 "Princess... Warrior") and includes Able (the clone trooper from #26-27 ""General" Skywalker".) The Empire series so far has been made up of unconnected one-shots or two-part stories taking place in roughly the same time period. With this issue, not only does it serve as a sequel to Sunber's first appearance "To the Last Man," it also makes the whole series feel whole (although if I wanted to nitpick, I could ask why no characters from the Marvel series, the Russ Manning strips, the Classic Star Wars strips, or a whole slew of stories taking place in this period are not even mentionned).
There are also new characters. Aside from the Imperial officers, new characters include the other Intel operative who seems to go by his real name of "Captain" Harran, and the Duros/Neimodian whose name is Mouse (whose sole reason for existing is to make an eye-catching cover!)
Now on to the story. The disguised stormtroopers quickly dispose of and replace the real ones and, after a briefing with Captain Harran, Basso and Able are tasked to place diversionary charges and Mouse is supposed to go after the "prize" (which I'm sure we'll find out soon what it is).
Meanwhile, our Imperial hero Sunber finds an empty bunk in the barracks, but for some reason a burly junior officer named Clynn wants to fight him for it. When Captain Roshuir comes in to break up the fight (nice intro for this character), the other junior officers learn of Sunber's previous assignment on Maridun, and he quickly gains their respect. Then he's all chummy with Clynn as he gives Sunber a tour of the base. That's when Sunber expresses his surprise at seeing Human slaves working in the base, and that gives him another excuse to become a Rebel which I think he is intended to become in the near future.
The next day, Skywalker, Harran and Shan meet up with General Noils and Roshuir and reveal that the Rebel base could possibly be located in the Thila system, which we all know it is or was at some point. I suspect that Luke is trying to pull a "Dantooine" on the General, I don't see why the Rebels would stupidly reveal their current location. The ploy seems to serve to have Shan gain the "confidence" of Captain Roshuir, and leave Luke and Harran alone with the General. When the three are chatting in the General's quarters, Luke uses a "bathroom break" excuse to go exploring which leads in to the next issue.
So as you can probably see, this issue brings a lot of new developments to this intriguing story. Now that their goal has been revealed, i.e. to rescue Jorin Sol, it validates the minor plot thread that has been implanted ever since he was captured a few issues back. After seeing the opening scene where Sol is being tortured by an IT-0 droid only for fun, I hope that if they don't rescue him at least they kill him! Again, my only gripe with this story is the same as it was with sending Leia on Jabiim, but even more here. I really don't see the reason Luke would go on an Intel mission undercover, other than to have a familiar character for the readers to identify. Why would the best hope for restoring the Jedi be sent on a mission to rescue one guy? As the old Marvel series and Archie Goodwin newspaper strips reveal, he had a lot more important things to do. But aside from that, the story is really intriguing so far, plus I really love that we find out what happened to some characters from previous issues.
While I like the artwork overall, particularly the exterior shots of the base and the interrogation droid, what I like most about it is Fabbri's coloring job. The shades and colors are really approproate in all the right places. The cover by Beck of a Neimoidian dressed as a Stormtrooper caused a lot of speculation when it was revealed to the public, but it actually fits into the story.
The problem with these multi-parters is you won't be able to enjoy this issue alone, but if you read the whole arc (or the TPB) it will be very enjoyable. I wish I had the patience to wait for the TPB instead of waiting a month and a half between issues.
Rating: 8.5 / 10 Highly Recommended