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Empire #39 The Wrong Side of the War, Part 4 (of 5)

Story: Welles Hartley
Art: Davidé Fabbri
Inking: Christian Dalla Vecchia
Coloring: Neziti Domenico
Lettering: Michael David Thomas
Cover: David Michael Beck, Brad Anderson
Released: 02/08/2006

Reviewed by: JF Boivin (12/11/2006)

SUMMARY:

Luke is catches up with his old friend Janek "Tank" Sunber on what they've been doing since they last saw each other on Tatooine. Jorin Sol's interrogation/torture session seems to be over, and the Imperials have plans for him. When the Rebels are discovered, their plans to rescue Jorin Sol and the Jabiimi slaves are already in motion. The Imperials decided to move Jorin off planet, so the undercover Rebels had to act earlier than anticipated. Now they have to act fast or everything is lost.


[final cover]


[preview cover]


THE STORY

Another month and a half has passed since last issue was published. The upcoming release of the Rebellion series is getting closer. Anyway, it was definitely worth the wait. Last issue, Luke met his old friend Janek "Tank" Sunber who is now an Imperial lieutenant posted at Kalist VI base. They spend the whole issue talking about old times, Biggs, the Empire and the Rebellion. At first Luke pretends like he is also an Imperial, but at the end he tells Tank that he should join the Alliance. Tank makes a move to arrest him but Luke knocks him out.

But this is not the only way the Rebels are discovered. Two other events happen simultaneously, which inter-cut the Luke/Tank scene, where Imperials find out there are Rebels in the base. Mouse the Duros volunteers to go plant the last of the explosives on his own, diguised as a stormtrooper. He is discovered and killed, but he succeeds in his mission which results in a big explosion. Meanwhile, on a mission to Thila to search for a Rebel base, Lt. Clynn and several stormtroopers are killed in an explosion which leads Captain Roshuir to suspect that he was set up by Deena (in the last issue) and thus she must be a Rebel herself.

There is also the continuing sub-plot of the "interrogation" of Jorin Sol by some Imperial Intel agents. They seem to set him up for soemthing, and when they are satidfied by the results the Imperials decide to move the prisoner off planet. The Rebels find out about the change of plans from Artoo Detoo, and this moves up their time table dramatically. Now they have to scramble to create a diversion (Mouse's part), rescue Jorin Sol (Able and Basso's part) and free the slaves (Luke's part). The last two will have to happen in the next issue as this one once again ends on a major cliffhanger.

In my review of #37 I suspected that the Rebels pulled a "Dantooine" by revealing the Rebel base on Thila's location to the Imperials, and I was right. Let me just mention that this is the first time in any source that we see the Thila base. This is another obscure reference (just like Kalist VI) which proves to me that writer Hartley must have brushed up on his old West End Games RPG material. Thila was first mentioned in Galaxy Guide 1: A New Hope as the site of a new base were the Rebels moved ater Yavin, and where historian Voren Na'al was interviewing the Heores of Yavin to write up their biographies. But it was never really explored anywhere else. For years it has been speculated when and if the Rebels actually occupied that temporary base, and now the matter is finally put to rest. Officially as of 8 months after the Battle of Yavin, Thila base was already evacuated (take a note of that, you timeliners out there).

But this is just one of many reasons that I am very much enjoying this storyline so far. Luke's dialogue and confrontation with Tank are very gripping, I was hanging on their every words. Also very sad is when poor Mouse gets shot in the back. I even felt bad for Roshuir getting wounded in the explosion on Thila. It just proves that Hartley can create very interesting characters to whom it is easy to get attached to. And he also knows how to create a suspensful and entertaining story and how to pace it. He makes the job of writing a Star Wars comic look easy. The only downer is that there is only one issue left...


THE ART

Fabbri really knows how to convey emotions in the characters, which is crucial in this particular story. So much of the storytelling relies on the reader actually feeling what the characters are saying. This issue only has 2 types of costumes: stormtroopers and Imperial officers. But Fabbri manages to make them distinct by their body types and expressions. The backgrounds are also very memorable. The coloring is not bad, but the palette of colors seems to be limited mostly to greys to browns to olive greens.


CONCLUSIONS

This series is very enjoyable so far, full of action, character development and suspense.

Rating: 8.5 / 10 Highly Recommended

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