Dark Times #12 (Republic #95)
Vector Part 6 (of 12)
Story: Mick Harrison
Art: Dave Ross (p.1-10), Douglas Wheatley (p.11-22)
Coloring: Dave McCaig
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Douglas Wheatley
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (09/07/2008)
Darth Vader has opened an ancient casket and unleashes the prisoner trapped inside, a Jedi Knight from ages past who is carrying a talisman inside which resides the spirit of a Sith Lord. Celeste Morne's mandate is to rid the galaxy of the Sith, so a lightsaber duel is fought. All the while, the Jedi woman is tempted to use the talisman's power to defeat the more powerful Vader. She finally gives in, turning Vader's stormtroopers into Rakghouls and forcing the Sith Lord to retreat to his shuttle. During the battle, the crew of the Uhumele manage to free themselves from their shackles and run back to their ship, but not without suffering one more casualty.
The duel that stated last issue continues, and Celeste soon sees that she is outmatched by Vader. Karness Muur's spirit offers a solution, to unleash the powers of the talisman even though it means embracing the Dark Side. Left with a hard choice, Celeste sees the logic in this, mainly to prevent the power to fall into Vader's hands. Who knows what he would do with it? Vader also tempts Celeste in joining him as his apprentice to help overthrow the Emperor. But Vader's search for a secret apprentice is no longer secret, as the Sith Lord discovers that his master Palpatine/Darth Sidious/The Empror knew about his quest all along sending out the scientist Doctor Peturri to spy for him. During a reprieve in the fight, after Vader disarmed Celeste, he catches the scientist trying to senak away and makes him confess. Suddenly, Peturri starts to change into a Rakghoul, a creature about which he informed Vader last issue. As Vader slices him up, Celeste uses the distraction to Force push the stormtroopers guarding her and to retrieve her lightsaber. The fight resumes as Celeste clears a path to Vader through the stormtroopers.
By that time, for some reason Muur has changed his mind and now wants Celeste to give up so that Vader can inherit the power of the talisman. At the beginning, it seemed to the people around that Celeste was crazy talking to herself when she replied to Karness Muur. But later we see Muur talking to Vader, so maybe he can only communicate with Force-sensitive beings. Anyway, Muur must have seen that Vader is more deserving of the talisman so he tires to convince the Sith Lord to kill Celeste. This is when Celeste decides to open herself up to the talisman's power and turns all the stormtroopers into Rakghouls which only she can control. They turn on Vader, some still shooting their blasters, and Force him to run to his shuttle. The rakghouls are abandonned on the planet, as is Vader's hope of getting an apprentice. But at the end, he will not giving up his search, hinting maybe at the events of The Force Unleashed which occur a few years later. Morne is left behind with her army of Rakghouls and the constant presence of Karness Muur's ghost.
But what about our heroes, the crew of the Uhumele? Last issue they were tied up to posts so they could witness all the events. During Celeste's counterstrike (when she blows away the stormies), Shurk-Heren breaks of the cement post holding him and retrieves a blaster from a fallen stormtrooper. He then frees the others with the weapon, and they hurry back to their ship before anyone can notice. But on the way there, something terrible happens. The pilot Crys Taanzer keels over in pain and starts changing into a Rakghoul. I don't know if this is because she is Human, or why the others were not affected by the plague. Nevertheless, Captain Shurk-Heren has the sad task of shooting what was once a good friend and member of his crew. The crew are mostly silent during liftoff, shedding tears for their fallen friend who will never find out that her son his still alive in the care of Master K'kruhk.
A quick and sad conclusion for Dark Times... at least until the series returns next year as announced at the end. Quick because it consists mainly of a lightsaber duel between Celeste Morne and Vader. And sad because of what happens to Crys. There is a mention that Celeste has no intention of putting herself back in stasis inside the oubliette, hinting that she may stay on this planet and age naturally for 19 years until the next part of "Vector" in Rebellion #15. Even though we don't see much of the Uhumele crew whose role is mainly to witness the events unfolding, I like this two-part story which really stars Vader and Celeste. I also like the hints about Vader searching for an apprentice and Palpatine knowing about it all along. Did the Emperor plan on obtaining the talisman through Vader? Or did he want it destroyed? He probably knew about it through Peturri, who revealed the whole backstory about the Muur Talsiman to Vader last issue. Anyway, I can't wait for the next installment of "Vector" and for Dark Times to continue in 2009 (especially with the hint in the letters column of Dass Jennir's return).
Much like issues #7-9, this one has two different artists. But unlike what was done previously, this time the credits specify which pages each artist worked on. Dave Ross was the main artist on issues #6-10, the "Parallels" story arc, and Wheatley was the artist on the first story arc "The Path to Nowhere" in issues #1-5. Both are very talented and have similar styles, except that Wheatley's likeness of Vader is much closer to the real thing. Not to compare the two artists, the art flows smoothly from beginning to end, thanks in a part to the coloring by McCaig. I also love how the two ships at the end look very realistic, and the amazing cover by Wheatley.
The "Vector" storyline reaches its mid-point with this issue, and some major events are happening that will affect the crew of the Uhumele. This one is for Vader fans, readers of "Vector", and just plain old people who like a good Star Wars story.
Rating: 7.5 / 10 Recommended