As revealed by Dark Horse Senior Editor and Vice-President of Publishing Randy Stradley in this month's edition of MYSPACING COMICS, Dark Horse is bringing back its popular Star Wars series "Dark Times," first on MySpace Dark Horse Presents for a two-issue arc in January and February, and then as a print miniseries in April, the third since the title debuted in 2006.
What long-time fans of the Star Wars universe should be most excited about is the fact the third series is subtitled "Blue Harvest," which for Nabooan neophytes was the working title of what became "Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi."
"Dark Times," written by Mick Harrison and illustrated by Doug Wheatley, went on hiatus last June to make room in Dark Horse's publishing schedule for books dedicated to "The Force Unleashed" videogame and "The Clone Wars" animated film and television series. Set in the time between "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" and "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope," "Dark Times" features a Jedi survivor called Jennir, a Nosaurian named Bomo Greenbark, and Darth Vader.
Mick Harrison told CBR News that "Blue Harvest" is a bridge from the first "Dark Times" arc, "The Path to Nowhere," as it focuses on Jennir as he tries to figure out his place in a galaxy where, after the events in "Revenge of the Sith," all Jedi have been declared criminals. "In that first story, Jennir already made some bad - some very un-Jedi-like - decisions," explained Harrison. "He told himself he was breaking the rules for good reasons, but in the end everything went wrong. Now he's got to decide what to do with the rest of his life. If Jedi are now outlaws, can he be an outlaw and still be a Jedi? And how 'bad' can he be without betraying everything he thought he was?"
The second arc, "Parallels," predominantly featured Bomo Greenbark as he struggled to piece his life back together after a series of tragic events that occurred on homeworld during 'The Path to Nowhere.' Greenbark was also the main character of the series in its two Vector crossover tie-in books.
Harrison shared the MySpace DHP segments are all about Jennir, but when the print "Dark Times" series returns in April, the story will include connections to the other members of the "Dark Times" cast, including Darth Vader. "I'm still working out how much I can include of Bomo Greenbark and the crew of the ship Uhumele in this arc, but Doug Wheatley and I have been discussing where we're going next, and there's definitely a lot more to come with Bomo and company," said Harrison.
"But there are a bunch of new characters we'll be introducing," he added. "As you might suspect, there's a woman, Ember Chankeli, at the center of it all. As I began writing the story, I knew exactly where her part would begin and end, but as I 'discovered' more about her character, a whole new future evolved for her. I think readers will be surprised where she ends up.
"We're also introducing an honor-obsessed warrior - a kind of 'good' bad guy, who will place himself between Jennir and his goals and force a confrontation with the ex-Jedi. The cast is rounded out by a hot-headed youngster, and cagey old coot, a bunch of real bad guys, and the most annoying droid you've ever met."
Harrison said the idea to call the miniseries "Blue Harvest" came together in "about a minute," and once Star Wars licensor Lucasfilm okayed the use of the title, he and Wheatley were off and running. "This story came about because Doug Wheatley and I are both big fans of the films 'Yojimbo' and 'A Fistful of Dollars,' both of which tell the story of an outsider who comes into a town controlled by evil forces and stirs things up, eventually setting the bad guys against one another," explained Harrison. "This core idea has also formed the basis for lots of other films, like 'Last Man Standing' and 'Miller's Crossing.'
"And all of these films, to one extent or another, owe something to the Dashiell Hammett novel, 'Red Harvest.'
"In his current state, Dass Jennir seemed perfectly suited to play the part of the outsider, and in the galactic upheaval after the Clone Wars and the rise of the Empire, coming up with a place where bad guys are profiting from the current situation wasn't too difficult. The 'red' in 'Red Harvest' is an obvious reference, and in the Star Wars galaxy it was easy to find a 'blue' correlation, which led us to 'Blue Harvest' which, as every true Star Wars fan knows, was the phony title given to 'Return of the Jedi' to keep people away from the set during production."
Sounding like Jerry Seinfeld, Harrison said he loves writing "Star Wars" adventures set in the dark times because it's an era about nothing. "This may seem like an oxymoron, but what makes the dark times perfect territory for what Doug and I are doing is that we know that during this period nothing major happens," offered Harrison. "By that I mean that there is no galaxy-wide threat, no one poses any real challenge to Palpatine or the Empire. It's a period of relative stability - the Rebellion doesn't get started and Palpatine doesn't disband the Senate for another nineteen years, which means it's the ideal backdrop for 'smaller,' more personal stories.
"I've always liked 'The Empire Strikes Back' because the drama, the stakes, for all of the characters is personal. They're not trying to save the galaxy, they're trying to save each other. Big galactic battles are exciting, but they can't match the intensity of sacrificing everything to save the woman you love, or the gut-punch of finding out your dad is Vader."
And of course, scripting the Dark Lord of the Sith is pretty cool, too. "I don't want to give away too much of the story, but I will say that I'm having a great time writing the Vader segments," confessed Harrison. "Besides getting to see Vader cut loose with some displays of Force power, he's also coming to a really unsettling realization about where he stands in Palpatine's plans.
"I won't say it's a shocker, but there is an obvious potential that, as far as I know, nobody has mentioned yet."
"Dark Times: Blue Harvest" begins as a two-part story on MySpace Dark Horse Presents in January, with a print miniseries to begin in April.