My Brother, My Enemy Part 1 (of 5)
Story: Rob Williams
Art: Brandon Badeaux
Coloring: Wil Glass
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Brandon Badeaux
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (04/09/2007)
After finding out from a prisoner that his childhood friend Luke Skywalker was the one who destroyed the Death Star and that his other friend Biggs gave up his life for the Rebellion, Imperial Lieutenant Janek "Tank" Sunber, starts having some doubts about his life choice. He wonders why did they have to fall on different sides of the war, and which one made the right choice. Then Sunber makes up his mind and decides to make a report to Lord Vader about some valuable background information he has about the Hero of the Alliance.
The team behind the "Nomad" story (Star Wars Tales #21-24) is back together for this continuation of the Empire series. I still wonder why the decision to start over a new series... if this is to get new readers, why choose a storyline that depends so much on a previous series? Why not start over a new, stand-alone adventure? I think Dark Horse should have published this 5-part story as the final one for Empire because it ties so many loose ends from that.
Anyway, in the aftermath of the events on Kalist IV, where Janek Sunber found out his old chum Luke from Tatooine joined the Rebel Alliance, Sunber is back to his regular duties. He starts off very loyal to the Empire, firm in his beliefs and not a hint of regret that Luke is now his enemy. But those beliefs are shaken during an "interrogation" of a Rebel prisoner, where Sunber learns that the Rebels see the Empire as evil, and also that Luke destroyed the Death Star. This sets Sunber right off, and he takes it out on the prisoner proving the latter's point. After that scene, we see him literally tossing and turning in his bed, wondering if he's made the right choice in joining the Empire. But after that period of doubt, he makes a final choice and decides to stay loyal. And to make this absolutely final, he meets Darth Vader aboard the Executor, fully intending to betray his old friend from Tatooine.
For this first part of the story arc, there is not much happening. It is mostly an exploration of Sunber's psyche and motivations, his frustrations and regrets. It's about choosing to fight for what he really believes in. Of course the writer had to add some action in the form of a generic attack on a Rebel base which takes up more than half the comic. But that whole part feels out of place with the rest of the story, and like it was just stretched out to fill in some pages. Overall, I wasn't really impressed with the storytelling and characterizations, which are pretty bland and clichéd. Nothing compared to what Welles Hartley started in "To the Last Man" and "The Wrong Side of the War". I can't see this story going anywhere interesting.
While I like coloring over rough pencils, expecially when the colorist is really good (as is the case here with wil Glass), it still takes a lot of talent to pull it off without the help of an inker. Examples of artists that can pull it off are Doug Wheatley ("Darklighter" and "Into the Unknown") and Cary Nord (Dark Horse's Conan series). An example of an artist that can't is Badeaux.
I guess "Nomad" was prety good because Badeaux and writer Williams used original characters that they created. But in this story we have familiar characters and vehicles like stormtroopers, AT-ST's and Darth Vader and Badeaux is not up to the task. My main beef is that most of the characters' bodies are disproportionate; for example, how long is that stormtrooper's neck on page 3, the one standing behind Sunber? Just trace the parts that are hidden behind Sunber and you'll see. And that full-page Darth Vader on the last page... his arms are too long and his legs too short. And I hate that cover, I think it's the worst one I've seen in years. Plus, the artist has no sense of scale, as proven by that double-page spread on pages 4-5. I guess it's impressive to see all the work he put in that, but if you look at the characters in the foreground, the AT-AT's in the background and everything in-between them it looks very disproportionate.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Badeaux is completely untalented. Most panels are very good, I'm just picking on the ones that are not. I really like facial expressions, and the prisoner's face after he's been beat up is very convincing. Two scenes that I really like are when a TIE Bomber crashes on the planet and bounces right over Sunber as he looks calmly at the doomed pilot passing by in the cockpit (pages 12-13), and the first-person perspective of Sunber punching the prisoner's face (page 18). I guess my standards are pretty high now after seeing Star Wars comics drawn by the likes of Jan Duursema, Davidé Fabbri and Joe Corroney.
A slow start, and not very promising at first glance. I'm 50/50 on that series picking up steam in the following issues.
Rating: 5.5 / 10