Rebellion #13 (Empire #53)
Small Victories Part 3 (of 4)
Story: Jeremy Barlow
Art: Colin Wilson
Coloring: Wil Glass
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Colin Wilson
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (06/18/2008)
Leia and Able try to escape the clutches of Commander D'Vox inside Bannistar Station's command center, while Deena Shan fights Captain Rishyk in another part of the station. Meanwhile, a squadron from the Rebel Alliance fleet plan to rescue their fellow Rebels.
Leia and Able are in deep trouble, prisoners of Imperial Commander D'Vox inside Bannistar Station after a failed attempt at sabotaging the fueling depot. Luke has also been captured, but he is nowhere to be seen in this story, only his lightsaber which Basso sees as an important tool in his escape plan. Basso doesn't have a part in this issue either, but the last time we saw him he was thought dead by the Imperials and hijacking an escape shuttle. Basso manages to loosen his bonds, but D'Vox then walks over to announce that the prisoners will be sent to the Emperor as soon as the Star Destroyer Certainty is refueled. Basso only seizes his chance when a major distraction occurs.
That distraction is engendered after a series of events that involve Deena Shan. As bad a situation as Leia and Able are in, they are not nearly as much in trouble as Deena who is one-on-one with the sadistic Captain Rishyk. The only way to escape his choking grip is to enrage him, which is pretty easy, and get thrown through a transparisteel window. Deena then stabs Riskyk in the leg with a shard, which gives her access to her bag filled with explosive charges. One of the charges allows her to escape, but she reaches a dead end atop a docking walkway. Thoughts of heroic sacrifices run thought her head as Rishyk and his stormtroopers close in on her, and she desperatley reaches for another charge. She drops it and against all odds it drops inside one of the tanks fueling the docked Star Destroyer, and both explode from the detonation. Deena survives however, barely hanging by a cable dangling from the broken walkway.
In the center of all this, there is a very cool briefing scene aboard the Alliance flagship, Admiral Ackbar's Home One, where members of Dagger Squadron are planning to rescue their friends from Bannistar. The squadron is led by Lt. Pollard, and all four pilots fly a new type of starfighter called a B-wing. This scene is a huge homage to one of my favorite EU stories of all time. Ackbar talking about the four B-wing being prototypes, and having one of the pilots be a Verpine brings back fond memories of the RPG scenario Strike Force: Shantipole. On top of that, the Human pilot is named Nothos, the same as the main villain (Bane Nothos) in the West End Games adventure. Coincidence? Probably not, given that Barlow mentions the Verpine's name as being Suskafoo in the forums. Also all the talk about flight simulators references the old X-Wing flight simulator game for PC. That game's second expansion was named B-Wing and was in turn referencing the story of Strike Force: Shantipole. Whether the writer was actually familiar with those sources, or if he read that info up on Wookieepedia (which I suspect after he calls it "the Shantipole adventure in one of WEG's Imperial Sourcebooks"), it's still a very cool reference for long-time fans. Plus I love Verpines, and we don't see them anywhere in the EU anymore. By the way, the remaining pilot is a Falleen named Troyt.
Anyway, Dagger Squadron plan to go on their own and attempt to rescue Luke, Leia and the others (whom they conveniently know are still alive from an intercepted Imperial transmission). I find it strange that Ackbar doesn't object that they are risking the only four B-wings in existence at that time, after all he's been through to acquire them. Pollard does the objecting instead, but he is against Captian Dantels joining his squad. For some reason, she can't go along in her own ship the Starduster, and since she pledged to look after Luke before Biggs died (waaay back in X-Wing Rogue Squadron #½) she can only replace one of the pilots. The Verpine is more than happy to give up his place, after having trained hours in the flight sim. I can understand Pollard's objection, given that Dantels has never flown as part of a squadron and is not familiar with the starfighter, but unfortunately he gives in to her demand way to easily. Once again, Ackbar could have intervened since he is the commanding officer of the whole fleet, but he lets Dantels join and put the prototypes even more at risk.
Basically, I think the story goes down a notch with this issue. What started out as a dark, who-knows-what-will-happen type of suspense is becoming predictable. The villains die, the good guys in jeopardy escape, and the mission is accomplished anyway, even though not exactly as planned. And I really don't like the way Ackbar is handled; he acts very much out of character. Next issue we'll see how it all turns out. Of course we know Luke and Leia will survive, but what about the others? I assume the B-wings (at least one of them) will also survive since we see them again in Return of the Jedi. But one thing for sure, and most important to me: the Verpine will definitely stay alive.
After a good first half, this one is a bit of a let-down. Let's hope it gets more intriguing next time.
Everything goes bad for our Rebels. Can it get any worse? Stay tuned.
Rating: 7 / 10 Recommended