Rebellion #9 (Empire #49)
The Ahakista Gambit Part 4 (of 5)
Story: Brandon Badeaux, Rob Williams
Script: Rob Williams
Art: Michel Lacombe
Coloring: Wil Glass
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Ryan Sook
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (12/30/2007)
Wyl Tarson and his team go through with their plans of infiltrating the city's underground tunnels. But when they arrive at the energy barrier, they find it is still active. Captain Rasha Bex has not been able to deactivate it due to a confrontation with another Imperial officer inside the Hub. While the group is waiting, Wyl receives a reminder from Raze, and Darca Nyl meets the apprentice of the Dark Jedi who killed his family. Above in the city, resistance leader Dunlan has a change of heart and decides to complete his task of blowing up the energy barrier controls, not realizing that the Rebel infiltrators had a contingency plan in place.
Wyl Tarson and co. put the plans they made last issue in motion, despite the fact that Dunlan opted out. They encounter some resistance in the tunnels underneath Ahakista, but the two stormtroopers and later a creature called a merdoc are easily dispatched. When they arrive at the energy barrier, they find that it still active. The reason for that is Imperial Captain Rasha Bex has encountered some resistance of her own. Above ground inside the Hub complex, she pretends to come for a security inspection, but when she looks at the energy field's controls a suspicious officer named Tregor interrupts her. He holds her by the shoulder, prompting her to start a brawl. How very unprofessional of her, especially when she has some people who rely on her to complete her task.
Back inside the tunnels, Darca Nyl is tired of waiting and goes looking for an alternate route by himself. He is followed by Sardoth, who reveals to Nyl that he is one of the Empire's former Dark Jedi who helped execute Order 66, but the Emperor turned on them afterwards and sent Vader to hunt them down. Sardoth has been in hiding ever since. He also reveals that his master was Lycan, and that he intends to take back his lightsaber from Nyl. A lightsaber duel ensues, but although skilled with a Jedi's weapon, Nyl is not a Force user and has a clear disadvantage.
Elsewhere, Raze decides to remind Wyl that he still listening by sending electical shocks through his brain, prompting yet another continuation of his childhood flashback. This time, his brother Ved picks up some explosives and runs towards an Imperial Juggernaut, shouting for Wyl to follow. When he comes to, a tender moment following Laynara's revelation to Wyl that she implanted the bomb inside is head is interrupted by Raze sending another jolt. Wyl wonders how can he go on like this? He figures he'll wind up dead no matter how the mission turns out.
Meanwhile, our local resistance leader Dunlan has been running through the streets after being injured last issue, heading towards his safehouse. He picks up his hidden missile launcher and flies over rooftops in his landspeeder towards his target. He decided to go through with his part of the plan and blow up the Hub's control station that houses the energy field controls, not knowing that Captain Bex is inside. Oops! She and the officer she was fighting get blown up, and Vader catches up to Dunlan. The Sith Lord pierces the resistance leader's heart, finally getting rid of this thorn in his side, but then he feels someone nearby using the Force. What Vader sensed was Sardoth using the Force in his fight with Nyl to deflect a broken statue from falling on him. Needless to say, Vader orders his troops to find the Jedi, now!
As you can see, this issue has a lot of separate stories going on at the same time, and it keeps cutting back and forth from one group to the other. This sometimes can be tricky, but it is handled well by the writers and the flow of the story doesn't feel interrupted. I'm not too fond of this starting love story between Wyl and Laynara, but this kind of stuff is part of Star Wars sometimes. Also it's sad that Bex had to die, but according to the letters column she is not the last, especially with Vader in the mix.
This cover must be my second favorite of the year after the one for the upcoming Legacy #16. There's something so very dramatic in the lighting. Canadian artist Ryan Sook made a very realistic painted portrait, which doesn't look like his usual style that I know from Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics (such as the excellent Ring of Fire graphic novel) and the covers for Rebellion #6-7. He has refined his style, proving that he has even more talent than he has let on so far. (As a side note, click on these links to see the original cover art: preliminary 1 preliminary 2.)
As for Lacombe's interior work, it is sometimes good, but other times not that much. I talked about the good side in previous reviews, now I will mention a few things I don't like. The action poses feel exactly like that: poses. There is no impression of motion just a character stuck in a position. An example of this is on page 6 where Darca Nyl is approaching the merdoc to strike it with his lightsaber. His stiff limbs make him look like Frankenstein's monster. Most of the characters display exagerated expressions, again as if they were posing. And one weakness on the artist's part, but maybe it's just me, is the elements that are new to this series don't exactly have that Star Wars look to them. For instance, whatever species Baco Par is looks more like a cartoony dog, and the merdoc creature just looks strange. But these things counterbalance the good points about his style, and the coloring is also very decent.
As it approaches its conclusion, we wonder who will survive the ordeal. Intriguing story which doesn't hint at how it might end.
Rating: 6.5 / 10