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Empire #38 The Wrong Side of the War, Part 3 (of 5)

Story: Welles Hartley
Art: Davidé Fabbri
Inking: Christian Dalla Vecchia
Coloring: Neziti Domenico
Lettering: Michael David Thomas
Cover: David Michael Beck, Brad Anderson
Released: 12/21/2005

Reviewed by: JF Boivin (01/28/2006)

SUMMARY:

Lt. Sunber gets into trouble when he threatens Clynn with a blaster to stop him from abusing a slave woman. Meanwhile, there is a change of plans for the undercover Rebels. Everything was going well until they found out the Imperials keep a work force of slaves and they won't leave without freeing them. Deena's plan also worked very well, as her information about the Rebel base on Thila has most of the soldiers leave the base for an attack. When Luke meets up with Deena, they are seen by Luke's old friend who instantly recognizes him and could ruin all the Rebels' plans by blowing his cover.


[final cover]


[preview cover]


THE STORY

This issue was originally supposed to come out on October 5, 2005. I think Dark horse was originally planning to finish the series by the end of the year, but it's still going.

So Jorin Sol is still being tortured, and we find out the name of the Imperial Intelligence woman in charge of it is Zudd. She seems to have some sinister plans for poor Jorin, which will have to wait until next issue to be revealed. The scene with Clynn walking into the workers' quarters, beating up some guy and making his way with a woman, then being confronted by Sunber is seven pages long. It's a very intense and dramatic scene, and one of many which will serve to convince Sunber that the Empire is not as glorious as he hoped.

The second half of this issue is about the undercover Rebels. Sgt. Basso is the one who convinces Harran that they should help the poor slaves, mentioning his past on Ralltiir (from issues #5-6) as something he doesn't want to happen again. Obviously, Harran's objections are well-founded, as their current mission (stealing fuel and rescuing Jorin) is vital and unnecessary risks should be avoided. Luke takes part of the conversation and proposes that a plan to rescue the prisoners could work.

As the Rebels wonder what happened to Deena, the scene switches to Captain Roshuir's private quarters where we find Deena very naked in his bed and speaking to him on a first-name basis (Kale). It's obvious that they've been intimate, and I don't think Deena regrets it or did it to protect her cover. When she finds out Roshuir is going to lead the attack on Thila, information which she provided, she seems very concerned, either for the safety of her new lover or for the safety of the Rebel base (doubtful).

When she walks out of the quarters the base is on full deployment. The fact that most of the officers and soldiers are leaving is the only thing that saves Sunber from a tibunal, as he is told by Roshuir. After all the ships have lifted off, Sunber is left alone in the landing bay. That's where he sees Deena with a familiar figure he hasn't seen in a long time: Luke Skywalker.

Turns out Lt. Janek Sunber is Tank from the "That's what you said when Biggs and Tank left" line from A New Hope! For years (ever since the movie actually), fans have been wondering why there wasn't any mention of Tank in any Expanded Universe source. Well here it is almost 30 years later. The two old friends are so lost in their joy that all is forgotten. Luke might worry that his cover might be blown if his friend reveals his real name to anyone else. Can Tank be trusted? Will this be the moment that's been building up where Sunber/Tank will join the Rebellion? Unfortunately, that's where the issue ends and we have to wait a while to read the follow-up.

I'm still amazed at how many references Hartley can throw into a story arc and still make the story very exciting. He makes the Star Wars universe feel connected in many ways by referencing different stories and characters. And he is also great at writing a narrative, as witnessed by the text leading up to the big encounter between the two friends. This story is building up to be a perfect finale for the Empire series.


THE ART

Once again I have to say that I enjoy the artwork by Fabbri (even though he didn't do the coloring this time around.) The art helps to tell the story and is not distracting. There are no flashy explosions or heroic poses. Every angle, expression and gesture is believable and just flows in. It's not amazing art if you look at it closely, but it perfectly illustrates the story in a simple way.


CONCLUSIONS

Tank! 'Nuff said.

Rating: 8.5 / 10 Highly Recommended

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