Rebellion #8 (Empire #48)
The Ahakista Gambit Part 3 (of 5)
Story: Brandon Badeaux, Rob Williams
Script: Rob Williams
Art: Michel Lacombe
Coloring: Wil Glass
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Luke Ross, Wil Glass
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (10/26/2007)
Wyl Tarson and his team are given their assignment by Sardoth: with the help of Dunlan, leader of the local insurgency on Ahakista, and a turncoat Imperial officer named Captain Rasha Bex, they are to infiltrate the Hub where the Empire's super computers are held. Destroying the Empire's interest in the planet would be advantageous to everyone involved, except that Dunlan prefers to not risk his men once he knows what is involved in the mission. Meanwhile, Darth Vader pays off Dunlan's best friend to get the location of the insurgency's safehouse. As soon as Dunlan arrives there, Vader and his stormtroopers mercilessly kill everyone. Dunlan manages to escape, but will Sardoth's associates go through with the mission without Dunlan's help?
Now we find out some answers. After an irrelevant 2-page scene showing and Imperial Lambda-class shuttle shot down in front of Vader, we see Sardoth and his new "employees" Wyl Tarson (who still has Raze talk to him via implanted commlink), Laynara (who decided to stay after all), Darca Nyl and Baco Par on their way to a secret meeting. Once they arrive, they are met at blasterpoint by Dunlan and some of his men, and an Imperial officer named Rasha Bex. Long-time readers might remember Bex from the BoShek story in Empire #23, one of my all-time favorite Star Wars comic which was illustrated by Badeaux (no coincidence, I'm sure). That story actually takes place only 3 months earlier and features the meeting and potential love interest between BoShek and Bex, and BoShek finding out that Bex is an Imperial but powerless to stop them from imprisoner him. Apparently, Bex was really in love with BoShek as she is now on a personal quest to try to free the ex-smuggler. She made the mistake of coming to Raze for information, thus putting her in her current situation.
Sardoth lays out the whole plan as promised over the previous two issues. Apparently, the Empire thought Ahakista was a convenient location to house their super computers used to monitor and control their entire starship fleet. But by allying themselves with the wealthy Ahakista upper class, the Empire disrupted the local politics and made some enemies among members the lower class who lost their democratic rights in the process. The computers are located inside a fortified pyramid-like building called the Hub and the people present were chosen to infiltrate it. Wyl and crew were enlisted for their skills of infiltration; Bex for her inside knowledge; and Dunlan and his men would be needed to destroy the control station that powers the energy field which protects the main blast door. But despite the goal being to rid Ahakista of the Imperial presence, the whole reason for Dunlan's insurgency, the leader refuses to risk his men in what he judges is a risky diversion.
Dunlan leaves the meeting, leaving the others wondering if they can go through with the plan without his help. Tarson runs after Dunlan and despite saving him from being shot by one of his men to collect the bounty on the leader's head, Dunlan still refuses to participate. But Fenic is not the only one who betrays Dunlan. In an earlier scene, we see his friend Astor receiving a large sum of money from Darth Vader to reveal the location of the insurgency's safehouse. So when Dunlan arrives there, that's when Vader and his stormtroopers attack. They kill everybody in sight but Dunlan manages to escape during the slaughter, shedding a tear for his fallen friends. Meanwhile, those events unknown to them, Tarson rejoins the meeting and announces to everybody that they will go on with the mission as planned even without Dunlan's help.
In this issue, Darca Nyl, Laynara and Baco take a backseat, understandable given the ever-expanding number of characters. Dunlan, Sardoth and Vader have more prominent roles in this part of the story, but I'm sure Tarson and crew will get their chance to shine once the mission gets underway. Raze is always in the background, but I'm not really clear on what his interest is in all this. We see another continuation of Tarson's backstory: last issue left off with his brother rescuing him and blowing up an Imperial Juggernaut, and here we see young Tarson dragging his brother who was hit in the explosion. But Ved wakes up and tells his little brother to get ready to fight. I hope this subplot becomes more relevant by the end of this story arc. This is the best issue of "The Ahakista Gambit" so far, as far as storytelling goes.
I'm quickly becoming a fan of Lacombe's work. All his characters are so realistic, and his Vader has improved a lot since the last issue. The best part is definitely the attack on the safehouse. Vader's power to easily dispatch victims, using his lightsaber and the Force, is very well represented. At one point, we see Vader leap up and crush someone's head with his foot as he comes down, with the damaged head tastefully hidden by Vader's cape in the next panel. And Dunlan's expressions are very touching, going from a bright smile when he arrives to a questioning and surprised look, and ending with him shedding a tear as he witnesses his friends being cut down. In the letters column, some readers complain about the use of word balloons on the cover of issue #6 and current issues of Knights of the Old Republic. But for me, being a long-time reader of Marvel Comics in the 80's it is only a return to basics, and what comic books are all about. It's always more intriguing to have the cover tell a little story or relay a quick scene from the story contained inside. This issues cover by Luke Ross is a good example of that, and I really like the bright blue sky behind Vader with his stormtroopers as he says to "grind the city to dust". Who wouldn't buy the comic based on that alone?
This series gets better and better with each issue. At last the mission is laid out, but we are left unsure if it can be accomplished. Intrigue and action at its best.
Rating: 7 / 10