Rebellion #10 (Empire #50)
The Ahakista Gambit Part 5 (of 5)
Story: Brandon Badeaux, Rob Williams
Script: Rob Williams
Art: Michel Lacombe
Coloring: Wil Glass
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Ryan Sook
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (01/05/2008)
Working for the crimelord Raze, Wyl Tarson and Laynara succeeded in infiltrating the Hive Imperial complex on the planet Rahakista, at the cost of one of their team's life. After disposing of a Dark Jedi and losing trace of Darca Nyl, Darth Vader catches up with the saboteurs before they can plant a transmitter into the computer mainframe. With no chance of escape, Wyl Tarson strikes a bargain with Vader that allows him and Laynara to survive. But at what cost?
This issue starts out with Wyl, Laynara and Baco Par in front of the undergound blast door after the energy field was de-activated last issue. It is now finally Baco's time to shine and prove his skills as the best lockbreaker in the galaxy. But before he accomplishes that, he has to have a scene where he pulls a blaster on the other two complaining that he never asked to be brought here. But then he does a complete 180 and resigns himself to do the task. I wonder why the writers even bothered to have him break down right before. Is it to remind us to feel bad when he gets shot? Is it to show us that Wyl is responsible for yet another death by kidnapping him in issue #6? If so, it is pretty anti-climactic since the small alien seems to feel very good about himself once he opens the door. He has no regret, and his confidance is back even if he didn't get the drink he asked for. After he gets shot, he proves himself to be braver than Wyl since he volunteers his last breaths in closing the door behind his two companions and holding off the stormtroopers.
But this doesn't work for very long. Baco buys them some time, but only enough for the Raze and Vader storylines to be resolved. Laynara reveals the contents of the briefcase she has been carrying all along: it's a small electronic "bug" that can plug itself into the Hub's mainframe and transmit the information to Raze, all the while being cloaked from detection (I don't think a cloaking device is the right term used here). In his dying breath, Baco begged Wyl to put his sacrifice to good use and send the information to the Rebellion. Wyl intends to keep that promise but as soon as he mentions altering the transmission coordinates to Laynara, Raze presses the button to send shocks to Wyl's brain. Laynara begs Raze to stop and succeeds when she threatens to destroy the bug. The pain stops, but that's when the stormtoopers open the door. One of them manages to hit Laynara on the shoulder where the bug was mounted, and woman and machine both fall injured. That is the point where Wyl gives up. He realizes there is no way back and tells Raze to blow up the bomb inside his skull
While this is all happening, somewhere close-by Vader interrupts the lightsaber duel between Darca Nyl and Sardoth that began last issue. His introduction is very cool, as the combatants hear his haunting voice off-panel before the Sith Lord reveals himself by coming out of the shadows. This is very reminiscent of the Luke/Vader fight on Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. Anyway, Vader makes short change of the Dark Jedi Sardoth, despite being distracted by Darca Nyl hitting the top of his helmet with his lightsaber. After Vader kills the Ikotchi and looses track of Darca Nyl, he walks in on Wyl. Right when Wyl thinks his head is about to be blown off remotely by Raze, he awakes to find himself very much alive and surrounded by Vader and his stormtroopers. Wyl doesn't seem to care much about himself, but for some reason when Vader threatens Laynara's life he promises to spill his guts about everything. In exhange for saving Laynara and destroying the bomb inside his head, Wyl says he will reveal all he knows about Raze's organization and the Rebel Alliance's spy network. Vader agrees, and Laynara congratulates Wyl of condemning many innocent lives in exchange for his and hers.
I finally figured out that Wyl Tarson is not a likeable character. Raze has been ragging on him to be a coward and a murderer all along, and turns out he was mostly right. When the time comes, Wyl thinks of himself first and gives up easily in the face of danger. This issue also shows the conclusion of Wyl's flashback about his younger days with his brother that was spread over the story arc. It was left off last issue with Ved running towards an Imperial Juggernaut and calling out for Wyl to follow. Now we see that Wyl was too scared to follow, and his brother gets shot by a stormtrooper. Personally I don't really see this as an act of cowardice. Sure, young Wyl let his brother down, but who dragged him into the Rebellion in the first place? Did he really ask to be dragged along during his brother's acts of sabotage? Probably not. And if he would have followed him across the battlefield, Wyl would have been shot as well. I'm not sure what the writers intended this scene to represent, whether to feel bad about Wyl or think he's a coward, but it doesn't have the big emotional impact that they probably wanted to portray. But back in the present, Wyl is pretty selfish and his action will probably cause a lot of grief to the Rebellion. It does impact Raze, as there is a scene showing the information broker leaving his homebase besieged by Imperial Star Destroyers. This would have been a perfect opportunity to have the annoying crime lord killed, but unfortunately the writers decided he would live to pester the galaxy another day.
The final page confirms Baco's death, but also reveals that Captain Rasha Bex survived the explosion last issue. But the officer who knew of her treachery lies dead, so she might be able to return to duty without anyone knowing. We also see Darca Nyl vowing to get his payback with Wyl, and that the bug, forgotten in the confusion, managed to plant itself in the Hub's databanks and started transmitting. Although it is not revealed whether Laynara had time to alter the transmition to go to the Rebel Alliance. Overall, this story arc is very disappointing. None of the events or characters really had an impact on me. Nothing significant really happens in the story. Plus I find a lot of characters to be annoying and useless. Raze is not a dangerous villain, all he does is taunt Wyl and zap him from time to time. Sardoth is just a frustrated Sith-wannabe who does not deserve to have survived this long. Darca Nyl is useless for most of the story arc, and when he finally gets some action in this issue it is only as an annoyance and distraction for Vader. Plus it doesn't seem plausible for a non-Force-sensitive be so skilled with a Jedi lightsaber. And Vader is sometimes out-of-character, making a few dumb remarks (VADER: "I don't know who you are, but I will kill you for that." DARCA: "Come and get me".) This story falls under the "useless" category in my book, especially compared with the other current series which are much more entertaining.
Since this is its last installment, I can comment on the story arc in general. Mostly, I find Lacombe's character renditions a bit stiff. Even though most of the facial expressions a pretty realistic, the action poses make the characters look like they are standing still. This is especially true in this issue, with the three-way lightsaber fight between Vader, Sardoth and Darca Nyl on page 5. All three characters are seen from above, and the blurred lightsaber blades are the only indication that they are making any movements. There is another example on page 9, with a full page shot of stormtroopers shooting at Paco in the distance. The troopers seem frozen in firing positions. I know comic books are static images, but a lot of artists have a way to depict character movements and make it more cinematic. But there are good things about the artowrk as mentioned in previous reviews. Like I said, the expressions in character's faces are very detailed, and I especially love Paco Bar's looks of anger and sadness on page 2. And Lacombe also makes good use of shadows, especially fitting in the underground tunnel environment of this story.
The cover by Ryan Sook is good, but not as impressive as the one from last issue. I am a big fan of Sook's work. About the word ballons, I don't have anything against dialogue on the cover in general but here what is being said sounds a bit exagerrated. Sardoth seems to imply that he is allied with Vader against Darca Nyl, and Nyl says that he has destroyed a Sith before. As far as I know, Nyl killed Lycan who was a Dark Jedi, not a Sith, but maybe he doesn't know the difference if he thinks Sardoth is a Sith too. Unless he is addressing Vader? But I am nitpicking, this has nothing to do with the artwork itself. At least the dialogue adds some depth to the cover. Like I said, I'm all for them, being long time reader of old school comics from the 70's and 80's, but they can't all be winners.
The Ahakista Gambit comes to an end, and it is a relief. The conclusion fits the rest of the story, which doesn't bring much to the Star Wars universe in my opinion.
Rating: 5.5 / 10