The Crimson Empire saga from the Expanded Star Wars Universe resumes with Issue #2, the second part of a six-part story entitled Empire Lost. In the previous issue, we learn where former Imperial Royal Guardsman Kir Kanos has been hiding, when Boba Fett brings him to secret Imperial headquarters. Meanwhile, Mirith Sinn, the New Republic operative from the previous Crimson Empire chapters, is now in charge of security for Chief of State Leia Organa Solo; while her brother Luke Skywalker senses a disturbance in the Force at his Jedi Academy on Yavin IV.
The second issue of Crimson Empire III picks up directly from the tale from the previous issue. While Admiral Pellaeon is in command of the official Imperial Remnant, a new Imperial faction seems to be rising in secret – with a plot to destroy both the Remnant and the Republic. In command, is an as-of-yet unnamed Supreme Commander, and it would seem that Kir Kanos has willingly joined forces with them.
Meanwhile, stealth mercenary agents retrieve a precious (but potentially deadly) artifact for a memorable enemy [from the Expanded Universe] strategizing behind the scenes. An attack is launched on Leia and her family, and it is left to Mirith Sinn and her crew to stop the attackers.
Several characters from the Star Wars universe reappear for this episode of Crimson Empire III – like last issue – seemingly to indicate that Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley are attempting to make some significant continuity connections between previous novels and comics while continuing the Kir Kanos narrative.
Perhaps the most significant reappearance, and most unexpected, is that of Admiral Pellaeon of the Imperial Remnant. He meets with Feena D’asta (an additional reprise, this time from a character with a significant role from Crimson Empire II) in his particular scene, foreshadowing events that would come many years later (“in-universe years”, that is) during The Hand Of Thrawn duology by Timothy Zahn.
Similarly returning in this issue is the sinister Nom Anor. While hinted at during Crimson Empire II that he was a bad seed, it was disclosed in The New Jedi Order series that he is, in fact, a forward-agent for the Yuuzhan Vong invasion force. His appearance here seems to be more of Richardson and Stradley writing in significant moments that not only influence Kanos’ story, but connect very strongly to other elements of the Star Wars universe.
While this is an awesome touch by the writers, it affected one major part of the story in this issue: that of Kanos himself. Kir Kanos has always been the main character of the Crimson Empire series, and in this comic, he only appears in a few frames on a few pages. While his appearance in the final moments is pretty badass, it was disappointing to see him being delegated to being somewhat of a minor side character.
I am hoping that this is deliberate for setting up the stage for seeing much more of him in future issues. Maybe this sidelining might make more sense as time progresses for the story – but within the confines of this single issue, I had to admit some disappointment. It’s like reading The Incredible Hulk, but the Hulk never shows up at all, or Judge Dredd shows up instead – perplexing and frustrating.
Another mild annoyance was the final moments of the Coruscant Palace invasion scene. Once everything is wrapped up, Mirith Sinn and Leia share a quiet, intimate moment focusing on anxiety and expectations. Ordinarily this might have been/felt touching; but instead felt like filler material for the page… there was a surprising lack of depth in the moment, which made me think they were just struggling to fill up the page to complete the comic.
But these are very minor criticisms. Within that particular conversation between Mirith and Leia, there’s a wonderful WHOLE PAGE representation by phenomenon Paul Gulacy of Darth Vader about to strike down someone in a flashback. The image is nicely done, capturing a stillness that is almost paradoxical to the moment it is depicting. The meticulousness is noticeable; and I would hope that at some stage, Dark Horse or Lucasfilm release a poster edition of this specific page.
On the topic of Gulacy, his artwork, as mentioned in the previous review, is outstanding. It ties into the art flow of Crimson Empire and Crimson Empire II, and the attention to detail in background areas is exceptional. There’s a few frames and scenes set within the Palace that are simply beautiful to say the least; and it was nice to see more of Nom Anor’s regalia being visualized in Gulacy’s art – definitively following many of the descriptions provided in the Vector Prime novel.
Dave Dorman‘s artwork, for the covers, as always is magnificent. I can never say enough kind words about Dorman’s work – he brings a movie poster quality to the designs and usually accurately depicts what the issue is about. I say ‘usually’ for this review, because as mentioned, there’s very little of Kir Kanos in this installment. I can only hope that Dorman is foreshadowing some action to be coming soon in future pages.
Generally, Crimson Empire III #2, is fairly good, and feels like a necessary next step in the story. However, as mentioned, I feel like there was a lot of enduring “set up” from the previous issue going on; and it is disappointing that the major character got so little coverage in this chapter. With the conclusion of this installment, it does feel like things are going to bump up a little; and it would be unfair for me to judge the whole story based on one single issue. So, while a reasonable issue, I have higher hopes for more details and more movement of plot in the third issue.