The story in “Star Wars: Dark Times – Out of the Wilderness” #4 is actually a great deal more complex than Dass Jennir’s attempted rescue of Ember Chankeli from a band of desert pirates. While the basic thrust of the tale is Jennir trying to rescue Ember, Jennir is being targeted by an assassin, searched for by the crew of the Uhumele and trailed by Darth Vader. While Vader is scarce in this issue, there’s little doubt he’ll turn up in a big way very soon. However, the story at hand is a thriller as Jennir tries to save lives, including his own. The assassin brings the thrill, determined to take down Jennir and collect the bounty, even if it means doing some of Jennir’s work for him — like killing the desert pirates.
Randy Stradley’s story feels less like a “Star Wars” tale and more like an espionage yarn. Stradley has fleshed out the characters sufficiently to move the story forward including the crew of the starship Uhumele, who we see for one page in this entire issue. There’s so much going on here and the reader is kept at a safe distance, never truly finding a sympathetic connection with any of the characters. The most interesting exchange in this issue is the conversation between the assassin and Ember, who the assassin uses as bait to draw Jennir back in range.
Douglas Wheatley’s art and Dan Jackson’s colors bring life to this story. Wheatley deftly draws the characters with specific ranges of expression, body language and demeanors. The artist builds on his characters through detailed pebbled backgrounds, riveted speeder bike panels and finely crossed braids of hair. Each and every panel is a masterful work of art, enticing the reader to fall into the world of Prine alongside Jennir and Ember. Jackson’s colors open up the big sky of the desert world and bring near-substantial warmth to the pages.
Four issues into this story, the tension has been building. With the crew of Uhumele so close to Jennir, Jennir readying to spring the assassin’s trap and Vader somewhere off-screen, this story is ready to explode like the first Death Star at the end of “A New Hope.” The pieces are all here for a fantastic delivery but only if they’re coordinated to trigger in just the right way.