- "The dark times are here. Even as the worlds of the former Republic are drawn into the iron grip of Palpatine's Empire, the galaxy seems adrift in a sea of chaos, lawlessness, and despair. On Coruscant, Darth Vader waits for his Master to reveal his vision for the future. But is there a plan beyond obtaining power? On New Plympto, Jedi Master Dass Jennir leads a Nosaurian army in a war they have already lost. Is this what it now means to be a Jedi? Dark Times #1 is the gateway to a new era in Star Wars history, an era where the future is grim, evil is on the rise, and all paths seem to lead nowhere?"
- ―Diamond Previews
Star Wars: Dark Times was a comic series published by Dark Horse Comics. The first issue was scheduled for release in October 2006. Similar to Star Wars: Rebellion, it is a continuation of an older series, Star Wars: Republic, and continued the numbering of Republic on the inside. It also has the same miniseries style of Rebellion, and ran in alternating arcs with it, and later the Star Wars: Invasion series.
The story begins shortly after Star Wars: Purge, and intertwines with the events of Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. In July 2008, the line was paused for eight months to give precedence to the Clone Wars monthly comic, resuming in April 2009. In June 2010, it was put on hiatus once again, resuming in August 2011.
- "We told you we still had a few cards up our sleeves. Well, here's another."
- ―Randy Stradley
In 2006, Dark Horse relaunched its entire Star Wars line, wrapping up its popular Republic, Empire, and Star Wars Tales series, and replacing them with Knights of the Old Republic, Rebellion, and Legacy. It seemed as if those would be the only three series of the new line, until July, when Randy Stradley announced a new series at the Dark Horse message boards. Dark Times was scheduled to alternate five-issue arcs with Rebellion, with its first story arc premiering in the fall after Rebellion wrapped up its own first arc, My Brother, My Enemy.
Republic had been one of the most popular and well-received pieces of Star Wars publishing throughout its 83-issue run, and would continue in the pages of Dark Times, just as Empire was doing in the pages of Rebellion. Dark Times is officially a continuation of Republic, with the numbering of the former series continuing inside the comic's pages. For example, the inside cover of Dark Times #1 also displays the numbering Republic #84. The first arc of Dark Times also continued the story of Dass Jennir and Bomo Greenbark, who were last seen in the pages of Republic.
- "This book, in my opinion is going to be so much fun, it might kill me!"
- ―Doug Wheatley
The Path to Nowhere
- "Probably the darkest, bleakest story we've ever done."
- ―Randy Stradley
The first story arc, The Path To Nowhere, was set to debut in October of 2006, but a delay caused the first issue to be released on the 8th of November. The first issue, however, was actually released prior to the final issue of the first Rebellion Arc, due to a four-month delay that saw Issue 5 of My Brother, My Enemy (originally scheduled for an August release) come out in December. This was only the first of many delays to completely throw the Dark Times/Rebellion publishing schedule off-kilter, however. Issue 2 of The Path to Nowhere was released in January of 2007, with the next three issues being released in May, July, and October, respectively. The fifth issue of the arc was released a full eleven months after the first.
Many fans speculated that the heavy delays were a result of the time it took for penciller Doug Wheatley to prepare his photorealistic and much-admired artwork. Following the release of Issue 3, Wheatley appeared at the Jedi Council Forums, asserting that he begrudged no one for their comments, and accepted full responsibility for the delay. He claimed to have made significant progress on the problem and that the book was back on track, and thanked everyone who was still hanging in there. He also said that the severity of the delays "scared the hell out of him", and stated that it would not happen in future story arcs.
The second story arc of Rebellion, The Ahakista Gambit, premiered in May 2007 and completed its entire five-issue arc before The Path To Nowhere was said and done. The second arc of Dark Times, Parallels, was originally set to premiere in August, but due to the delays suffered by The Path To Nowhere, saw its first issue released in October, only two weeks after the release of Issue 5.
Following the release of Issue 5, Randy Stradley stated the following at the Dark Horse Message Boards:
- "For the first Dark Time arc, artist Doug Wheatley ran into problems completing the work on schedule. The reasons were his own, and not really important for our discussion here. I, as editor, having assessed the situation, decided (based on the quality of Doug's work) to stick with him for this arc -- though I knew it would make the book late. In hindsight, and if I had known the full extent of the delays, I probably should have replaced him with another artist. I prefer to reserve actions like that for the last resort, mainly because changing one artist for another is usually like switching apples for oranges -- artists aren't interchangable widgets, easily swapped one for another on an equal basis. Also, another Star Wars-quality artist isn't always available."
- ―Randy Stradley
As the events of The Path To Nowhere dovetailed with the events of the novel Dark Lord, Issue #5 featured a scene taken right from the pages of the book. James Luceno was credited in the issue's inside cover.
- "In fact I'm excited for those of you who are sticking around, Harrison is freaking me out with where he is taking this title."
- ―Doug Wheatley
Parallels was released with comparatively few delays, having a five-issue run from October 2007 to April 2008. Mick Harrison remained the writer, with Zach Howard creating the covers, and Dave Ross taking over the penciling duty from Doug Wheatley. Issue #8 saw the penciling duties split between Ross and Lui Antonio, resulting in a noticeably inconsistent art style. Fans were disappointed in the inconsistency, though it is possible that Antonio was brought on board to help the issue be released on time. The issue was split between two locations, and it was apparent that Ross was penciling K'Kruhk's adventures on an unknown planet, while Antonio was penciling the story of the Uhumele's crew on Circarpous V.
- "As to whether Darth Vader, say, is the protagonist or antagonist — or any of the other characters for that matter — read on. The answers may not be what you expect!"
- ―John Jackson Miller
Doug Wheatley returned to the series to pencil Issues 11 and 12, which formed parts 5 and 6 of the mega-arc Vector, a crossover series which encompassed all four current Dark Horse titles throughout 2008. The script was by Mick Harrison, though John Jackson Miller and John Ostrander had hands in the plotting of the story. The events of Vector were intended to have a profound impact on the storylines of all four series.
Issue 12, however, saw penciling duties split between Wheatley and Dave Ross, with Ross penciling the first ten pages of the issue, and Wheatley the second twelve.
- "With the huge push for Clone Wars coming up -- and with it more or less coinciding with the release of The Force Unleashed -- something had to give."
- ―Randy Stradley
In April 2008, it was announced that both Dark Times and Rebellion would go on hiatus to make room for Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Slaves of the Republic. Randy Stradley offered these words of wisdom on the matter:
- "The two titles, Dark Times and Rebellion, are being put on hiatus because we at Dark Horse know from past experience that whenever our Star Wars line grows beyond three (or occasionally four) titles in a given month, many fans are forced to make financial decisions about which titles to purchase. Invariably, sales on all of our books plateau -- essentially, we increase our overhead but don't increase sales. Carrying on like that for very long is not a good business model. So, we try to keep our output to three (and occasionally four) titles per month."
- ―Randy Stradley
He also stated that work on both series was continuing, and that they should continue once the furor over Clone Wars dies down. However, only Dark Times resumed publication, as the Rebellion line was discontinued and replaced with the new Star Wars: Invasion series.
In the "Letters" section in the final issue of Blue Harvest, published in June 2010, it was stated that the series would not continue until 2011.
Star Wars: Dark Times—A Spark Remains became the final Dark Times story arc, due to Dark Horse's loss of the Star Wars comic license following Lucasfilm's acquisition by Disney.
The Path to Nowhere
Randy Stradley has stated that "The story begins in the days following the events in Purge, and intertwines itself with some of the events in James Luceno's novel Dark Lord." He has also stated that "only about four weeks have passed between Republic #80 and Dark Times #1."
Issue #6 begins two and-a-half-days before the issuance of Order 66, and follows Master K'Kruhk until the order is issued. The issue then flashes forward to the crew of the Uhumele on Pizkoss, two months later. As such, Parallels takes place roughly one month after The Path To Nowhere begins. Similarly, Issue #7 indicates that two months have passed since the end of the Clone Wars.
Out of the Wilderness
The prelude of the first issue indicates it is four months since Palpatine declared himself Emperor. The story then shifts back to the Uhumele, two days later, before flashing back two weeks earlier to Jennir's exploits.
So far, it has seemed that a month has passed between each arc, with each arc beginning an additional month after Order 66, though Out of the Wilderness appears to be concurrent with Blue Harvest. However, in the case of the crew of the Uhumele, approximately one month and an additional three weeks pass between Parallels and Vector, with only nine days passing before Out of the Wilderness.
The sixth arc, Fire Carrier, takes place sometime after Out of the Wilderness. Issue 23 also references the events of the Gentis coup and featured the reconstruction of the Imperial Palace, indicating that it took place shortly after the events of the comic series Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison. The same issue also indirectly referenced the events of Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command and the first three issues of Blue Harvest. Issues 24 and 25 also indicate that it occurred sometime after the events of Parallels, referencing the skirmish on an unidentified jungle moon.
A Spark Remains
Issue #28 begins with an ambush of Darth Vader on the planet Kestavel, and then cuts back to several weeks earlier. It also inferred that the events of the main period of time of the story arc occurred at least some period of time after the events of Star Wars: Vector. Issue 4 also referenced the events of Parallels, Out of the Wilderness, The Path to Nowhere, and Blue Harvest.
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