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Monday, March 17, 2008

Dark Side of the Horse IV

It’s been a long time coming but Dark Side of the Horse is back. I originally had this feature slated for Comics Alliance but the powers that be have deemed that side bunk. Anyway, that won’t stop you from getting impressions and a fans point of view on the most recent Star Wars comics from Dark Horse. So without further chit chat here’s a look at Dark Side of the Horse IV …

Star Wars: Rebellion #11Star Wars: Rebellion #11 - Small Victories part 1 (of 4)
Deena Shan finds herself aboard Rebel One, a damaged Rebel flagship fleeing from the Empire with Luke, Leia and spymaster Tungo Li aboard. Betrayed by Imperial Spy Jorin Sol the ship finds itself in hyperspace with unknown coordinates entered after he betrayed the Rebels by turning over their secret hyperspace routes. When they do drop out of hyperspace it’s in the vicinity of the Bannistar Station, a major imperial hub for refueling and a foothold into the outer rim plants, a destination that’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s decided the destruction of the base is more important than the lives on Rebel One, so plans are set in motion, lives sacrificed so that a select few can sabotage the base. Amid all the planning Deena finds herself questioning her place in the alliance as well as her general fate, confiding in Luke and reflecting … all before being faced with a life-or-death mission.

It’s an interesting story arc set in the middle of the best trilogy. The art is passable, excellent in some panels, so-so in others, but it’s the story that drives this book. Seeing the Rebel heroes through the eyes of ordinary Rebels is always a joy and shows just how special Luke and crew are, but it also puts a very real human reality behind all the ‘extras’ from the movies. Not every battle was a victory, not every hero survives, not every character is noble, and it’s these story points mixed with Deena’s choices that make Rebellion a joy to read.

Star Wars: Dark Times #8Star Wars: Dark Times #8 - Parallels part 3
Bomo Greenbark’s gang is caught between a rock and a hard place as they betray one contraband buyer to get themselves in a tortuous situation while their ‘package’ causes trouble for Jedi Master K’Kruhk and his stranded Padawans. Captain Heren and his crew, having crash landed on the same moon where the Jedi resides, have noticed their camp as a potential resource for material to repair their ship. Bomo meanwhile is being tortured so that Lord haka can find his missing package.

My explanation for Dark Times is short as I’ve always found this particular series a mixed bag and issue 8 is no exception. The story involves marginal characters form the new trilogy and while Bomo has had his moments overall this story just feels a bit bland. The dual art styles, one from Dave Ross the other Lui Antonio are so vastly different you do feel like you’re reading two books stitched together. I’m not the biggest Dark Times fan, especially when you can pick up this next story …

Star Wars: Legacy #18Star Wars: Legacy #18 - Claws of the Dragon part 5
Cade Skywalker continues to reside in the service of Darth Krayt while the Sith attempt to turn the descendent of Vader to the same path as his ancestor. Darth Krayt reveals his entire origin and the cause for his appearance at the hands of the Vong. Just when Cade decides he’s done with his charade a few Sith step in to stop him while Krayt urges him to strike them down, giving into the darkness in his heart. Even the death of Jedi Hosk Tre’Lyis cannot turn Cade as he has a vision of his father and takes up his lightsaber to face Krayt. Cade turns to face the possibility of death at Sith Lords hands.

Now this is a Star Wars story worth of the Skywalker heritage. Cade faces some inner demons while being taught a lesson by not one, but two fallen Jedi. The art is excellent with great mood and relays a true feeling of conflict in Cade as well as his mother looking to rescue him. The ties to the past help the story along as each era is touched on and reader truly feel they are continuing the Star Wars story. An excellent storyline and a very likeable character in Cade, this is a must have for Star Wars fans.

Star Wars: Legacy #19Star Wars: Legacy #19 - Claws of the Dragon part 6 (of 6)
The faceoff continues as Cade and Krayt clash with the experienced Sith easily having the upper hand. Corde makes her move to rescue her son. The action eats up, and it’s all about the action as Cade escapes from Krayt and the Mynock makes a daring rescue and escape from Imperial fighters.

Short and sweet is the flavor of this book as its mano-y-mano between Cade and Krayt and a quick and daring rescue which ends this story arc. The art is excellent as noted above and the story satisfying. What will the next volume bring, not sure yet, but with Darth Krayt in pursuit you know Cade is going to live an interesting life.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #24Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #24 - Knights of Suffering part 3
Zayne just does not attract good luck. Cornered in the Jedi Temple in Taris surrounded by Mandalorians it’s time to go toe-to-toe with Jedi Raana. Shel is now starting to believe Zayne did not slay her brother, and just in time as he needs all the help he can get against Raana. The battle rages, Mandalorians battle, Zayne escapes, but not before Raana dies, but not in the manner, or at the hands of the one you expect. Where to next for Zayne, we shall see.

Zayne is another interesting character as the Old Republic era is ripe for character creation and he’s one with potential. The art in this particular volume of KOTOR is hit and miss. It nails some panels but feels plain in other, out of proportion at times. The story, the story of Zayne is enjoyable as a whole so I’d recommend picking up some of the collected KOTOR books before diving in, especially with what’s next.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #25Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #25 - Vector part 1
Zayne and Gryph are running for their lives, still on Taris and they witness the Mandalorians discovery of a legendary Sith pendant, one that’s seen in a vision by the Jedi Covenant responsible for framing Zayne. Familiar faces (Vader, cough!) are seen in the vision as are the ancient Sith such as Naga Sadow. Acting upon this vision, which by the way included Zayne, Lucien activates various spies in his extensive network to step up the search for not only our missing Padawan but also the Sith pendant. What is the power behind this Sith artifact, how does it tie Zayne to the Skywalker clan of the future and Sith Empire of the past and what does it mean now that it’s in the hands of the Mandalorians?

Dark Horse has dubbed this the perfect introduction to the entire Star Wars line, a yearlong event that will touch every here in the Star Wars galaxy. That alone should be enough to get you geeked for this and future books, and it’s also why I left the best for last. The art style reminds me in ways of the Clone Wars, just not as childish. The story, oh hell yeah. Whenever you tie the past to the Skywalkers you’ve got a winner, especially when you know you’re moving outside the side-story angle and into a tale to touch on the heart of what is Star Wars. Stop reading, well finish reading this blog and get to the store to start reading up on Vector, it’s going to be hot!

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