The fine print of the indicia brands this comic as "Star Wars: Republic" #111, but "Star Wars: Dark Times - A Spark Remains" #1 is the beginning of a another chapter in the continuing adventures of Jedi Master Dass Jennir and his allies among the crew of the Uhumele.
Writer Randy Stradley uses a large chunk of the issue to show Jennir wrestle with a decision without completely revealing the Jedi's thoughts to the reader, which would be fine enough -- but "Star Wars: Dark Times - A Spark Remains" #1 ends with a surprise from one of Jennir's allies, cloaking the Jedi's motivation and plan in mystery just as Luke Skywalker was shrouded in dark secrecy when he first appeared onscreen in "Return of the Jedi." To this point, readers think they know Jennir, or have at least begun to know him, but Stradley proves there is still more to learn.
Wheatley's art is riveting. Many of these characters are visually more developed than a vast amount of the characters that get made into "Star Wars" action figures. Certainly Mezgraf the Togarian is much more visually impressive than that silly orange, blue and green with frogman flippers Walrus Man figure ever was. Wheatley jams the pages so full of detail that when he reels it back a bit, as with Vader's sudden appearance mid-issue, the impact is striking. Dan Jackson's colors fit the bill nicely and continue to provide a cinematic ambiance to this series. With Vader heavily embroiled in this conflict, "Star Wars: Dark Times - A Spark Remains" #1 is worth the cover price for the stunning artwork alone.
A propaganda ad pitches how busy and vital Darth Vader is to the Empire. While much of that seems better suited to Brian Wood's current "Star Wars" series than "Dark Times," it anchors this first issue of the new series nicely, promising an inevitable conflagration. It's a bold first strike, but so much of this issue is told in flashback that readers will anxiously await the story after Darth Vader lets go of the perch he clings to early in this issue. Stradley and Wheatley have teased Vader throughout their run on "Dark Times," it's hopeful that this series will finally deliver in full.