Ania Solo and Imperial Knight Jao Assam decide that they need to stop Darth Wredd on their own, but who is it blocking their way? Jao's master, Yalta Val - because running off on their own is against orders.
The story of the hunt for Darth Wredd continues in Star Wars: Legacy, Volume 2 #7 (DarkHorse.com profile) - while Ania and Jao track down one of Wredd's associates, AG and Sauk discuss the planet Dac - a topic also being explored by someone on Coruscant. Spoilers ahead!
Summary: Jao and Ania find the way to a ship blocked by Master Val and his stormtroopers. The Empress, as part of the triumvirate, has decreed that no action should be taken against Darth Wredd in his current string of wiping out undercover Sith around the galaxy - and going against the Empress' orders is treason. One trooper, sensing Ania reaching for her blaster, starts a firefight, but Master Val and his former apprentice eventually call a ceasefire, and Ania and Jao are allowed to go on their mission - even if it means that Jao is a deserter. Aboard Jao's ship, the pair sort through comm reports looking for a lead and Ania spots a report about Wredd's assistant, Dieben, being extradited to his homeworld of Nalyd.
On Nalyd, they learn that Dieben has been recently convicted for previous crimes and is about to be publicly executed. Unable to let their only lead to Wredd go silent, Ania Solo kidnaps the convict in the execution arena, and escapes with him on a giant spider. Despite Jao using a hovering air jelly to save them once, the guards cause the three to fall - with the prisoner getting impaled on a giant spiked plant, and dies without revealing anything to Ania or Jao.
Meanwhile on Coruscant, a trader petitions Admiral Stazi to clear the space around Dac to allow it to still be used as part of a trade route, but she is rebuffed. Master Val reports in to the Empress that Ania Solo and Jao Assam have fled, and she wants Ania brought back into custody, while Jao may suffer the death penalty for desertion, Force vision or not.
Aboard AG's ship, Sauk secures their latest cargo, a ferocious beast, and hopes that their journey might take them past Dac - but AG reminds him it is a dead world, despite the hopeful message from the other Calamari refugee that Sauk met. Sauk then opens up and shares that he never learned the fates of his family on Dac while he was apprenticing offworld. Back on Nalyd, the pursuing guards are satisfied that Dieben is dead, and assume that Ania and Jao were there to take him to Dac.
Review: The mystery deepens - The Alliance government wants people to stay away from Dac, which though a dead world, may still have most of its orbital shipyard intact. Some Mon Calamari are hoping to go there to rebuild - and now Wredd's minion has some connection to the system. Looks like things are headed toward a convergence on the late Mon Calamari homeworld. Plus the Empress is really, really interested in having Ania Solo in her custody.
Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman have built an interesting tale here - combining a good story with plenty of action. Having a chase on spiderback on the side of the mesa was novel and exciting, yet falls right into the classic Star Wars feel. We see that the Imperial Knights are very different than the Jedi - obedience to the soverign trumps individual determination, and death may await those who break orders. And AG and Sauk are not forgotten as we dive into more of Sauk's mixed feelings about his world and his species. We get a good sense of both our protagonists and the world they are visiting with such dialogue as "Ever been here before?" "I've never even heard of it." - Nalyd is indeed backwater, and yet also Ania and Jao are not the galaxy-hopping heroes that we usually see in Star Wars.
Brian Albert Thies continues his artwork on the series for this arc, with colors by Rachelle Rosenberg and lettering by Michael Heisler. I especially enjoyed the series of panels of the would-be execution, with the focus on all the characters, and a final panel of Dieben getting yoinked off panel, leading into a large spread of Ania grabbing the diminutive prisoner while astride a giant spider-legged beast. Other cool panels include the use of diagonal panels for their landing after the fall, and a large introspective shot of Sauk reflecting on his homeworld and the orbital shipyards.
The cover by Livio Ramondelli is certainly menacing, but Jao looks more like the Punisher or Dave Batista in this shot.
Overall, Bechko and Hardman do a good job of continuing the mystery by having the heroes fight for their breadcrumbs for the trail to the Sith.