Dark Times is a 2006 comic book series published by Dark Horse Comics as a series of continuing mini-series. It is part of their 30th anniversary retooling of its long-running Star Wars series of comics, replacing Star Wars: Republic.
The first issue was released on November 8, 2006, and is written by Mick Harrison from a plot by Welles Hartley; both were eventually revealed to be pseudonyms of veteran writer Randy Stradley. The series ran until Dark Horse lost the license to Marvel Comics and the Expanded Universe received a Continuity Reboot, relegating this series to the Star Wars Legends.
The series is set in the Star Wars galaxy shortly after the events in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and about 19 years before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The story begins in the days following the events in Purge by John Ostrander, and intertwines with the events of Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno.
These books provide examples of:
- Anyone Can Die: Oh god yes. Crys, Kai Hudorra and Resa all bite the dust, to name a few.
- Asshole Victim: Dezono Qua is a Rich Bitch who thinks his wealth puts him above the common man, and enables him to do whatever he wants to indulge his petty hedonistic impulses, up to and including killing and eating children. Needless to say, no-one shed a tear over his death.
- Back for the Dead: Kai Hudorra, one of the original protagonists from "Into the Unknown", returns in "A Spark Remains", only to die in a Heroic Sacrifice to delay Vader.
- Badass Crew: It's quite a coincidence that Dass Jennir found the one group of people in the galaxy willing to go to the mattresses for a complete stranger.
- Batman Gambit: Dass Jennir is proving surprisingly adept at this.
- Darker and Edgier: Pretty much the embodiment of this trope. Oddly, the ending of the Blue Harvest arc seems to subvert this.
- The Dark Times: Duh. As the title implies, the story takes place during the 20-year period between the end of the Clone War and A New Hope, though mostly at the start of that period.
- Dirty Business: Dass Jennir is the first Jedi to espouse this without falling to the Dark Side. Throughout the story he routinely engages in mercenary work, kills people with little reservation, and uses underhanded tactics like igniting gang wars.
- Divide and Conquer: Dass Jennir's plan for dealing with the slavers and spicers. He sets up a raid on a spice plant on one of the moons, then informs the head of the gang that the slavers were responsible, thus starting a gang war. Most of the gangs are nearly wiped out without him lifting a finger.
- Downer Ending: The ending of the Resa Greenbark arc. Resa was killed and eaten by a Rich Bastard shortly before the heroes arrived to save her, and Dass Jennir splits from the crew because of the schism formed between him and Bomo when he kills Qua before Bomo can get revenge.
- The Dragon: Darth Vader, one of the most iconic examples, is shown having some difficulty settling into the role, especially since he doesn't quite agree with all of the Empire's policies.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Poor Crys goes out with little fanfare aside from the crew mourning.
- Enemy Civil War: Dass Jennir engineers one of these between the slavers and spice traders by staging a raid at a spice plant, then blaming the slavers.
- Even Evil Can Be Loved: Jennir killing Dezono Qua causes him to have a bounty placed on his head by the man's vengeful family, despite the fact that Qua was a murderous cannibal scumbag.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Due to his past, Vader is genuinely uncomfortable with the idea of selling the surviving Nosaurians into slavery, although he eventually does it anyway.
- Fantastic Racism: Taken to its most odious extreme with Dezono Qua. His disdain for other species is such that he doesn't even think twice about eating sapient children, since they are just animals in his eyes. The Empire is also perfectly fine with enslaving entire species.
- For the Evulz: Dezono Qua's motivation for killing Resa. He has wealth and power, so why not indulge?
- Happy Ending: Master K'Kruhk and the Jedi younglings under his protection have the closest thing that could be called this in the whole comic, having settled in an isolated spot on a world under the watch of a friendly Imperial officer that respected the Jedi. Cue a Time Skip to years later, with all of the younglings having become fine young Jedi. While the younglings are never seen again, K'kruhk survived far into the legacy era, and as of the latest known events in Star Wars Legends, he's Grand Master of the Jedi order, and one of the three rulers of the galaxy.
- Hate Sink: Dezono Qua is built around this, lacking any likable traits and is all around an utter scumbag.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ratty and Bomo become very good friends. Even after they have a falling out, Bomo is notably bummed for a good while afterward (not that he doesn't have good reason), and Dass Jennir clearly has no idea what to do without his friend. Them reuniting is one of the story's unambiguously happy moments.
- Honor Before Reason: Dass Jennir has an entire conversation with a young boy about the concept of honor, pointing out that the honorable warrior he idolizes is ultimately just a thug with a weapon who does whatever he wants under the guise of "honor", whereas the boy's mother, who sold herself into sexwork to earn enough to care for him, is far more honorable than any thug with a sword could ever hope to be.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Dass, who is trained as a Jedi, deliberately downplays his skills when fighting the slavers on Telerath, making it seem like he is a skilled swordfighter, but ultimately not enough to beat their best warrior. When they later have a rematch under more serious conditions, Jennir beats him easily.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Dass tries to prevent this by killing Dezono Qua before Bomo can, with catastrophic results. Since Bomo has a very good reason to want revenge, it just causes him to vent his anger at Dass instead, causing a schism between them.
- I'm a Humanitarian: One of the more disgusting examples in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Dezono Qua happily eats sapient life forms just because he can, since he is wealthy and powerful enough to get away with it.
- Mauve Shirt: Stormtrooper Commander Vill of Vader's 501st shows up quite a few times, serving as a somewhat sympathetic viewpoint for the stormies... then Vader asks him if Palpy's got an Order 66 equivalent in case of Vader going rogue. When Vill tries to evade the question, he winds up getting force-choked and thrown off a cliff so that he can't report the question to Palps.
- Papa Wolf:
- Master K'kruhk takes a number of younglings under his charge during Order 66, and spends the rest of the dark times protecting them. Just to start, he goes absolutely balistic at the clones when he realizes what's happening, and routinely struggles with his anger when protecting the kids.
- Bomo Greenbark is one as well; it's why he turns against Dass after he kills the man who murdered Bomo's family before Bomo could do it himself.
- Must Make Amends: Early in the comic, Dass has to leave behind some slaves or risk blowing his cover. A storyarc later, he learns that those same slaves are working at a nearby spice plant, and nearly drops everything to go save them.
- Recycled In Space: The Blue Harvest arc is Yojimbo in space. Dass Jennir, a Jedi, who are essentially space samurai mixed with medieval wizards, is hired by a local to take care of some gangs menacing the town.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: The fate of Resa Greenbark. The entire second arc revolves around the heroes trying to find her, only to learn that she has been killed and eaten by a rich cannibal who did it For the Evulz.
- Single-Stroke Battle: Dass disarms the spicers' most skilled swordsman in one move. In an interesting subversion, the move is incredibly detailed, the single stroke taking up an entire page and shown through five individual panels.
- True Companions: The Crew of the Uhumele stick together through thick and thin, including breaking an Imperial travel band, a Rakghoul attack, an extended mission to find one of their family members and even a battle with Vader himself.
- Wham Line: In "A Spark Remains", Beyghor Sahdett convinces the group to try and assassinate Darth Vader. Dass Jennir eventually agrees and brings Kai Hudorra in.Hudorra: You know he's lying, don't you, Jennir?Dass: Yes. I've known for some time. But I also know his reputation with a lightsaber. I knew I couldn't take him myself.