The Alliance battles a revitalized Empire lead by the resurrected Emperor Palpatine,
and equipped with weapons of mass destruction. The only way to destroy the Emperor
is for Luke to follow his father's path into the Dark Side of the Force.
Like the trilogy of films themselves, I find it difficult to view Dark Empire
and completely ignore the historical context of my first viewing. Equally
difficult to forget are the seven years of sequels, discussions and opinions
shared. I will try...
There are two main flaws in the premise of the story that are serious enough
to overwhelm any other positives of the series. The first are the World
Devastators, a third superweapon the Alliance must face to stop the Empire.
The fact that there's a line of dialog calling them "far more lethal than the
Death Star" only calls further attention to the rehashed plotline. This story
thread really makes one feel like they've been here before.
The second, and far worse than a simple lack of originality, is the
resurrected Emperor. Beyond some basic problems with the logistics behind this
and the continuity problems for the timeline between ROTJ and DE, bringing
back the Emperor is unforgivable to me on one basis alone: it totally destroys
any meaning in the death of Anakin Sykwalker. I'm sure this sin will seem even
worse when we have six movies, and I'll bet that we see no evidence in the
prequels that Palpatine in any way lives from body to body.
Putting these aside, there are certainly many things found here to Veitch's
The "main seven" movie characters seem perfectly in character and interact
well. Having Luke feel he must conquer the dark side of the Force in order to
fully understand the good is a common human pitfall and I think what we see
here is just how Luke would handle the situation... as are the individual
reactions of Leia and Han.
Nar Shaddaa, the smugglers moon, remains one of the most interesting post-ROTJ
locals created. It is truly a hive of scum and villainy without ever saying
so. Seeing Han have to introduce regally-raised Leia to more of his past is
The idea of the Jedi Holocron is wonderful, particularly in a future where
Luke alone will have to train the entire next generation of Jedi based on his
limited teaching. This idea was the starting point for a number of other great
ideas introduced into the SW universe (even if not always delivered on great
And I'll admit it, bringing back Fett from the sarlaac pit makes this entire
series worthwhile. He's not written as intelligently as I'd like to see, but
he's far too great a character to leave out of post-ROTJ literature. His
return is not only plausible, but takes nothing away from the films.
The dialog is good, new and familiar characters are appealing, the tone is
dark and the story is complex in a way rarely seen in SW comics since. There
are many people who would like to have seen the ROTJ film more like this
story, but in the end it is Veitch's adherence to the ROTJ formula that keeps
this story from fulfilling its potential.
One must credit Kennedy for creating a look that is so unique that it defines
the title. The style of art will help make this series rememberable and
important for all time on lists of titles like Kingdom Come and Return of the
While it's the over-riding consistently unique style that is most remarkable
about the art, there are many great individual images and designs as well. Nar
Shaddaa is deep and feels slimy just looking at it. The devastation of war is
portrayed in ways never seen in the films.
DE was in works for years, and each issue had two months between releases. It
is clear the pages benefited from a lot of time for Kennedy to work his craft.
The uniqueness and obvious skill makes this a great visual experience. (I'm
ignoring future cheapening and over-use of this look in other titles.)
Despite flaws in the premise, there is enough good here that this series
deserves to be read. 6.5/10.