In Review: ‘Star Wars: Dark Times–Out of the Wilderness’ #4

The cover: Pablo Corea provides a moody shot of the bounty hunter searching for Jedi Dass Jennir, behind him is his faithful droid IZEE. There’s a lot of darkness, but that’s what you’d expect a bounty hunter to be coming out of. It’s a solid representation of both characters, though it doesn’t really “wow” me, but it’s good. Overall grade: B+

The story: There’s a summary on the inside cover of what’s gone before, but a decent reader could extrapolate what’s going on without it. Here’s the situation: After the events of ‘Revenge of the Sith’, Darth Vader is hunting down jedi, among them Dass Jennir, who’s on the planet Prine trying to rescue his (more-than-a-friend?) companion Ember Chankeli. In the first four pages we witness the aftermath and current carnage of Jennir trying to free Ember, and her friend Maddie, from a caravan of slavers/pirates. Unknown to everyone is that the bounty hunter has caught up with them. What follows is a rescue mission that’s only half successful and a splitting of characters that leads into next issue’s final battle. What’s the rest of the book about if there’s not any more major fighting? Characterization, and writer Randy Stradley aces this. These are fully developed characters with goals (and secrets) and they’re not just dumped into a story for the coolness factor. Case in point: The bounty hunter. I’m so thankful he’s not a Mandalorian or any other previously seen alien race. He’s just a man, or, as he says, “I’m a professional, not a monster.” It’s a treat to have an assassin that’s not the typical guns-a-blazing killer or alien comic relief with a gun as a bounty hunter, let alone the overused Boba Fett. Jennir is also a great reluctant jedi, as faithful readers have followed. Add to this a previous issue’s appearance of Darth Vader, and the tension is wonderfully ratched up! Overall grade: A+

The art: I can’t think of any other series with such a long lag time between issues. It seems as though this book never comes in on time. But you know what? Who cares! It could come out once a year, and I wouldn’t mind if it continues to look like this. Look at any page and prepare to fall in love with Douglas Wheatley‘s work. This isn’t your typical comic art: It’s fine art, and damn fine art at that, highly detailed on every page. Even the settings are highly detailed. Heck, the first page looks like ‘Xenoxic Tales’ meets ‘Star Wars’. Dinosaurs and Jedi? Sold! The action scenes are amazing, from Jennir riding his mount to the bounty hunter coming out of a spin. ‘Star Wars’ fans should be thankful that such care is going into a book like this. I know I am. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Trying to separate the art from the coloring seems impossible a task; they’re on a par with each other. I don’t know if Dan Jackson is using a computer, but it looks as though watercolors were used on this book. Who knew a desert could be so pretty at sunset? I mean, it’s just dirt. Jackson knew, and he shows it. Overall grade: A+

The lettering: The sounds of ‘Star War’s are famous, and Michael Heisler does a great job creating them, as well as doing excellent dialogue. Even though the rifle of the bounty hunter is silent for its first two shots, but emits a sound on its third–odd. Overall grade: A-

The final line: I am so grateful for this book when it comes out. It brings me back to the awe I felt when I saw the first film in ’77. The story, the art, the colors, and the letters of this book make me proud to be a ‘Star Wars’ fan. You could show this book to anyone and they’ll have to agree that it’s great. Overall grade: A+

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