Star Wars: Crimson Empire III – Empire Lost #3
Written by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley
Pencils by Paul Gulacy
Colors by Michael Bartolo
Cover Art by Dave Dorman
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: December 28, 2011
Cover Price: $3.50
The ongoing Crimson Empire III saga continues, now in its third issue, opening with a surprise appearance by Han Solo – with a story that finally progresses with more action and decision by our main character, former Imperial Guard Kir Kanos, swept and maneuvered into actions that are (perhaps) beyond his control.
Following the previous issue, which was mildly disappointing due to the lack of Kanos, the third issue quickly rectifies this with a great deal of interaction with (and action taken by) our main character. Detained by Boba Fett and delivered into the hands of a rogue Imperial operation (unsanctioned by Admiral Pellaeon), Kanos discovers that the man in charge of the hidden base is a man called Devian.
It’s revealed in this issue that Devian, a former assassin utilized by the long dead Emperor Palpatine, is in charge of this hidden Imperial offshoot – determined to destroy the New Republic; AND the Empire, only to exchange it for his demented vision. The antagonist attempts to persuade Kanos that his vision is in the same vein as that of Palpatine’s, trying to woo the Guardsman into his employ by stroking his devotion to the Emperor.
Kanos, of course, doesn’t want anything to do with it. He’s an independent individual now, and although still devoted to the vision of Emperor Palpatine, has no interest in Devian’s plans, and that brings us to our main action…
Kanos embarks upon an extraordinary escape from Devian’s hidden base, which is exquisitely depicted by the wonderful artwork of Paul Gulacy. Writers Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley wisely use little words during these sequences, allowing Gulacy’s craftsmanship to beautifully let the events unfold – and to re-emphasize Kir Kanos’ remarkable abilities in strengths, stealth, and intelligence. The coloring used by Michael Bartolo in this sequence is a little brighter than expected; but mostly suit Gulacy’s art and the script. But while little text is employed in this great sequence, it does lead me to my main criticism.
Within this issue, there is another sequence in which Devian explains his backstory, intentions, and proposals to Kanos. Understandably, this exposition is needed for the progression of the tale. However, in the context of this issue, Devian’s dialogue seems to overtake three or four pages. The text dominates these pages, nearly defeating the purpose of allowing the art to help tell the story. While I understand the need for exposition moments in a story, considering the lack of Kanos action in the previous issue, I can’t understand why it was dispersed across the two issues to allow a smoother story flow. Perhaps overall in the inevitable trade paperback, it will flow seamlessly; but within the context of singular issues, this seems like a terribly wasted opportunity.
Notwithstanding this minor criticism, the issue overall is a big improvement on #2. We finally get to see Han Solo, away on an extended mission against Imperial Remnant forces. Luke Skywalker reappears in this issue, hinting that he knows more about Devian (and perhaps Kanos) than he has previously let on. Expanded Universe fans would be happy to know that Feena D’asta appears in hologram form, delivering a message to Chief of State Leia Organa Solo and Mirith Sinn, hinting at the eventual peacetime that would be finally consolidated in Timothy Zahn‘s Hand of Thrawn duology.
Back on the artwork for a moment: more of Gulacy’s and Bartolo’s work are also worth remarking on. The color palettes and lights/darks employed for specific moments are eye-catching – but also key to moments in the story. The interrogation sequence is placed in a darkened room, highlighting not only the literal moment, but daring to show that elements of the hopeful New Republic also have their threatening sides as well.
Dave Dorman‘s cover artwork is phenomenal yet again, as expected, and (as he mentioned in a comment on our preceding review) is a nice accurate reflection of Kanos’ actions portrayed through this specific issue. I can’t say enough nice things about Dorman’s work, having been a fan for many years; but this cover in particular is a very refined action shot that would also serve well as a framed picture or poster.
Overall, issue #3 of Crimson Empire III is an improvement on the previous chapter, with a swift kick-up-the-butt back to some action. Despite the domineering exposition on a few pages, the rest of the story holds up this issue, complete with cameo appearances that begin to tell another side to the tale. We are now pretty much at the halfway mark of CE3, and I am vastly looking forward to the next issue.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5