GONK here with a review of this week's Star Wars comic: Star Wars: Dark Times - Out of the Wilderness #2
Out of the Wilderness continues with the Jedi Dass Jennir and his less-than-honest companion, Ember Chankeli, stranded in the deserts of Prine, while he is being sought out by three different people: Darth Vader, a mysterious assassin who killed Vader's only lead in tracking Jennir, and the Verpine Jedi Beyghor Sahdett, who has teamed up with Jennir's comrades from the Uhumele. While Vader's quest to hunt down surviving Jedi is deflected by Palpatine onto tracking the assassin instead, the assassin discovers Jennir's crash site and begins tracking them. Believing that Jennir was headed to Vondarc, the Uhumele's ragtag crew fight their way into Vonport's Imperial guard station, where Sahdett can download Imperial records related to Jennir's ship. Back in the desert, Jennir knows that someone is following him and has H2 hide their tracks, but while he is scouting ahead for water, Chankeli gets kidnapped by a wandering caravan and dumped with another shackled woman. Jennir gives chase to the caravan by catching a wild broncolope.
One thing that struck me with this issue of Dark Times is the lush artwork. With many pages having sparse or even no dialogue, the visual style by Douglas Wheatley and the color palettes from Dan Jackson convey some great moods, especially in Prine's deserts. We see Jennir's apprehension as the sun rises at the start of the issue, and the moods of dusk when Jennir catches a ride at the end. With the story following several different groups, there could be the potential to cram a lot into the issue, but the pace feels unhurried in order to have several spreads on each party. While the action-seekers in the audience would surely like to have seen how Bomo Greenbark, Beyghor Sahdett and others force their way into an Imperial base, there is enough action as they hold the position while Ratty slices his way to the information and then they make their exit: a flying Verpine with a lightsaber is death from above for a pair of troopers. The shot of Sahdett getting ready for action with Bomo, the Blood Carver, and Ratty in the background was one of my favorites - another great panel has the Uhumele coming to land on a rainy spaceport on Vondarc. The only art that bugs me is Ember's look - her clothes and hair seem more appropriate to an 80s movie than in Star Wars, especially compared to the more exotic looks worn by Dass and the caravan from Dinotopia (or maybe Dino-dystopia in this case). Maybe her look is to highlight that while she's a manipulator, she's got no practical skills for being away from civilization.
For a story entitled 'Out of the Wilderness', we're right at the point where we're getting into the wilderness: our hero has reached another complication, and two different bad guys are on his trail, and it's still not clear why the Verpine Jedi needs to find Dass, but he certainly knows his way around an Imperial data center. While the suspense has ticked up yet in the story, we know that it will only be a short time before all the characters start crossing paths. Writer 'Mick Harrison' (unmasked last issue to be editor Randy Stradley) continues the storyline of Dass Jennir in Dark Times well with this story arc so far.