The Wrong Side of the War, Part 1 (of 5)
Story: Welles Hartley
Art: Davidé Fabbri
Inking: Christian Dalla Vecchia
Coloring: Davidé Fabbri
Lettering: Michael David Thomas
Cover: David Michael Beck, Brad Anderson
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (11/06/2005)
Lt. Janek Sunber leads an infantry assault against the last Rebel stronghold on Jabiim and succeeds in capturing all the Jabiimi rebels. He is then transferred to a new post at the Imperial base on Kalist VI where he takes the prisoners, along with Jorin Sol, a Rebel mathematician who knows the trajectory of the main Rebel fleet. Upon arriving at the base, the transport exits hyperspace right in the middle of a squadron of X-Wings attacking an Imperial tanker named Nuna's Twins. After the X-Wings leave, the transport and the tanker land, but the base's commander, General Noils, is very suspicious of the tanker, whose crew he confines to the ship until the state of emergency is over. But unbeknownst to the Imperials, the crew of the Nuna's Twins is a group of Rebel imposters, including Luke Skywalker himself.
It is now about eight months since Lt. Sunber first saw action on the planet Maridun, as chronicled in "To the Last Man" (Empire #16-18). In that story, we saw him promoted to Captain, then Commander, only to loose the ranks for lack of paperwork to back it up. Now this story is by the same creative team, and if not for the references to the Jabiim storyline (Empire #29-35) it would be a direct sequel. But the fact that it also resolves the ongoing Jabiim plot, by showing the assault on the last pocket of Jabiimi resistance and also the fate of Jorin Sol, makes it even better.
Hartley manages to use an existing backstory and seamlessly intergrate it into his own character's story while at the same time using little-known references as well. In "To the Last Man", he used the Amanin and the Imperial Academy on Carida. Here he uses the planet Kalist VI, which was first mentioned as Dack Ralter's (Luke's gunner in ESB) homeworld in West End Games' Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back. Although in that book it is referred to as a labor colony, I love it when authors use existing references and flesh them out (which the writer of the "Darklighter" story arc should have done). This issue also has Jorin Sol beign transferred to the Analysis Bureau of Imperial Intelligence, which, according to West End Games' Imperial Sourcebook ,includes a much feared Interrogation branch.
Now on to the story itself. Once again, Hartley crafts a very well-told tale about a likeable Imperial officer, which is no small feat. There is a lot of narration, which a lot of people don't like to see in comics, but it is very interesting and relevant to the plot. And when it is revealed, very cleverly, that Luke and some Rebels managed to infiltrate the base, we realize that we are reading a Rebel mission but from the Imperial point of view. This story explores the motives behind Imperial officers' actions, and how they view the Rebellion and the Empire.
The issue ends with a total cliffhanger. Sure we find out in the last panel that "Lt. Jundland" is Luke Skywalker. But who is the guy posing as "Captain Harran," and who is the female with them? I hope that Princess Leia wouldn't risk another dangerous mission so soon after the Jabiim debacle. I really can't wait to read the rest of this story, as well as the upcoming two-parter by Hartley in Republic #79-80.
Fabbri manages to depict intense military ground action and space combat equally well. Further, he can make the different settings of Jabiim and Kalist VI totally distinct. His talent as a colorist is also very apparent here, as it was in "To the Last Man". This is one of those stories where the art adds a lot to the story, which is what a comic book should be about. So far, Fabbri's work has been outstanding, including past series like Jedi Council: Acts of War and The Hunt for Aurra Sing.
This being the last Empire story arc and Janek Sunber having a part in the upcoming Rebellion series, this story is an important read. And more importantly, it is well-written and a very entertaining read.
Rating: 8 / 10 Recommended