Star Wars #32
Darkness Part 1 (of 4)
Scripting: John Ostrander
Pencilling: Jan Duursema
Inking: Ray Kryssing
Coloring: Dave McCaig
Lettering: Steve Dutro
Cover: Jon Foster
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (02/11/2010)
A prison security compound on Kiffex is attacked mysteriously, and Kiffar Jedi Quinlan Vos is sent to investigate. Once there, he is attacked by a group of savage Anzati but manages to fight them off thanks to his old Master Tholme. They discover Vilmarh Grarhk hiding in a compartment, an old friend of Quinlan's. Unbeknownst to all of them, Quinlan's Padawan is also on the planet, and she has released a dangerous criminal named Volfe Karkko.
Note: The comic strip "Heart of Fire" from Dark Horse Extra #35-37 takes place between last issue and this one.
For those keeping track, we are now two years after The Phantom Menace, and several months or maybe a year after Quinlan saw his Padawan Aayla Secura on Ryloth (in issue #22). She is also amnesiac, and her last memory of her former Master is him causing her uncle's death. Hoping to find him, she stowed aboard a smuggling ship delivering weapons to the prison colony Kiffex, one of a pair of twin worlds from with Quinlan originates. The ship is destroyed in orbit by a Guardians of Kiffu patrol, but Aayla manages to land on the planet in an escape pod. Once there, her thoughts filled with vengeance, she is drawn to an imposing structure that holds a dangerous prisoner within a stasis field. (They also keep his lightsaber nearby for some reason). Volfe Karkko is able to control Aayla's mind into pressing the control panel that release him.
Meanwhile, on Coruscant Sheyf Tinte makes a return as she contacts the Jedi Council to ask for Quinlan's help. The three masters present, Mace Windu, Saesee Tiin and Yarael Poof, hesitate to send Quinlan because of his closeness to the Dark Side, and Quinlan himself suggests to send the Sector's watchman T'ra Saa instead. But Tinte needs Quinlan's psychometric ability to read what happened to a prison compound that was attacked a day earlier. The Council agrees to send him, and a ship piloted by the Guardian Maritan Kas arrives to pick up Quinlan and deliver him on the surface of the hostile planet. Inside the compound, he finds the bodies of fallen Guardians and starts to read the bodies when he discovers that the killers are still here. Quinlan is attacked by a group of Anzati and he is soon joined by another figure from his forgotten past: his old master Tholme. As soon as they drive off the attackers, the Jedi sense another presence hiding inside a storage area. They open it to find Quinlan's "friend", the smuggler Vilmarh Grarhk AKA Villie. Quinlan is not too happy to see the Devaronian but they enlist his help in leading them safely to a settlement.
Ostrander and Duursema last worked on the "Twilight" story arc, and this is pretty much a continuation of it, with characters like Aayla, Tinte and Villie returning. But events that happened since (and even before) are referenced in this issue. Quinlan saving Coruscant from Dathomir is mentioned (from issues #23-26 "Infinity's End"), and sometime since their last encounter, Quinlan found out that Villie was responsible for the death of several Jedi (from Jedi Council: Acts of War). I think it's a pretty big coincidence that Aayla is on Kiffex and Quinlan arrives there "some weeks later". It has been a quest of his to find his Padawan, and Mace Windu has been unsuccesful so far in tracking her down since they last saw her on Ryloth. Hopefully, this will be resolve by the end of the story. I also think that the villain Volfe Karkko, although he doesn't do much in this issue, is promising to be pretty dangerous. There a hints that he was once a Jedi and he might be allied with the Anzati who attacked the compound. As we know from the stories "Soup's On: The Pipe Smoker's Tale" and "Out of the Closet: The Assassin's Tale" (from Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina and Tales from Jabba's Palace respectively), Anzati are a long-lived race of vampires who get power from drinking the "soup" of living beings and especially love the blood of Jedi. The fact that one of them might be a Jedi or Dark Jedi is pretty frightening.
We all know Duursema's artwork is near-perfect. The highlight here is when Quinlan is "reading" one of the dead bodies inside the compound, then sees himself as the victim being attacked by an Anzat, then realizing that the Anzat is really attacking him! This transition is so smooth it gives the whole scene a surreal aspect. Another highlight is also the coloring. I really love the earth and orange tones of the planet Kiffex, and the contrast with the blue tones of Coruscant.
A nice build-up for Quinlan meeting some allies to fight a dangerous escaped villain.
Rating: 8.5 / 10 Recommended