Star Wars: Dark Times #1: The Path to Nowhere
by Welles Hartley, Mick Harrison, Douglas Wheatley (Dark Horse, 2007)

The Dark Horse line of Star Wars comics seems, at times, glutted with new ideas. Some are very good, and some -- for reasons of concept, execution or, in a few cases, both -- really should have been left on the reject pile.

The latest series, Dark Times, falls solidly in the "win" column. The first volume, The Path to Nowhere, sets readers up for a fascinating storyline at an era only slightly explored in existing Star Wars fiction.

Anakin Skywalker has fallen to the Dark Side and become Darth Vader -- but the Rebellion described in the original trilogy of films is still many years in his future. Now, for all his brooding menace and power, Vader is still an unsure apprentice learning the ways of his master, Emperor Palpatine. And, with fragments of Skywalker's conscience still struggling in his mind, Vader is not sure his master always acts with the best interests of the Empire at heart.

Meanwhile, a Jedi namd Dass Jennir has survived the Clone Wars and did not die in the treachery that wiped out most of the Jedi order. Now allied with the Nosaurian army -- previously his foes during the war -- Jennir battles hopelessly against high odds against the clone troops he once led. And when the family of his friend Bomo Greenbark falls into peril, Jennir feels bound to do his utmost to save them.

They find aid in their mission, but a great many mysteries about their new allies remain to be explored.

The Path to Nowhere is bold storytelling that doesn't flinch from taking a dark turn in its plot. Some of Vader's secret thoughts may surprise readers; some of Jannir's actions certainly will. With a strong story supported by Douglas Wheatley's excellent artwork, Dark Times can consider me hooked.

review by
Tom Knapp

26 January 2008

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