In Review: Star Wars: Dark Times–A Spark Remains #5
The cover: How many times in a Star Wars film have we seen characters dangling above the abyss? Obi-Wan in Episodes I – III or Luke in V. It’s about time we see Vader doing the same, though his abyss is much hotter than what those other two encountered. Terrific sense of scale and power from Benjamin Carre. The coloring is also exceptional. The visual is a nice compliment to the subtitle of this series. Overall grade: A+
The story: This is the final chapter in Randy Stradley’s story of Darth Vader finally getting to Jedi Dass Jennir and he’s going to kill him. Vader is leading a company of troopers to the casino on Destavel which Master Kai Hudorra used to run. This is nothing but action. It begins quietly as Vader and his men march across a bridge to get to the casino. Bomo is the last one to make it to the Uhumele and prepare to blast off. Just as they make their way to the massive doors, Vader is altered by the Force that there are two Jedi present. A liquid begins to seep out of the doors and then explodes out as the entranceway opens. The guards are doused in this liquid but Vader avoids its touch by leaping skyward, hanging from a rock face. And then “stuff” happens. Holy cow. This must be seen. I’ve never seen troopers attacked like this. It’s savage, quick, messy, and gets the job done. I also liked how from a distance a few Imperial guards are watching; their commentary and concerns are winning. You know Vader will get inside the building. You know Vader will confront someone. Who that person is will be a surprise. What goes on is amazing. The dialogue on Page 11 is wonderful. I feel the anger from one character leap off the page. I knew exactly what would happen after the threat at the top of 12, but what comes of it was great! Pages 16 and 18 are perfection! And just when you think all is doom and gloom, and let’s be honest, these are the “Dark Times,” the last character to speak made me believe against all odds that hope still exists. This was a tricky speech to write and Stradley pulls it off. Bravo! Overall grade: A+
The art: How is it possible to continually top yourself? I didn’t think that Douglas Wheatley could do any better than what he’s done. I’m expecting things to look better than most books, and they do, but I was just not prepared for the carnage and the fight in this issue. Vader is not just a presence in this book; he’s an active character–with the emphasis on “active.” Vader is hunting a Jedi and he’s brought a lot of troopers with him. You know this is going to get ugly for most of them, but Wheatley does this violence so gorgeously. I was completely taken by the number of troopers in this issue and their reactions to the liquid. I loved Vader’s leap to safety. The Imperials watching him look amazing, and these are not stiff lipped characters, they’ve got plenty of emotion and they show it! The combatant Vader fights looks stunning. Their battle is one that finally challenges Vader–something we’ve not seen in a while. The layout of Page 15 is great and it sucked me even deeper into this story. 18 was a genuine jaw dropper and looked stupendous. This is a Star Wars fan’s dream come true. Overall grade: A+
The colors: Amazing coloring throughout this book by Dan Jackson. Vader was really impressive. He could easily have been just a black smudge of wrath on the page but Jackson expertly provides the right shades and tones to his suit to make his every appearance real. Equally impressive his work on the mountain and bridge with gorgeous sand and brown work. Page 7 is amazing, considering the violence. I also loved the green backgrounds for close-ups on certain characters and the lightsabers and their swings looked great! And the sound effects really stand out, showing how “loud” they are. Terrific work. Overall grade: A+
The letters: Dialogue and narration, the usual stuff for a letterer and Michael Heisler does his usual excellent job, but the sound effects are spectacular. The VVVVM! was the killer this issue! Overall grade: A+
The final line: Wow. This is a must own tale for every Star Wars fan. Dark Times is the brightest star in Dark Horse’s Star Wars adventures. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.