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SW Dark Empire TPB
Story: Tom Veitch
Art: Cam Kennedy
Cover: Dave Dorman
Editor: Barbara Kesel

Summary

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.


EnsViews Comic Review
Reviewed 05/12/98

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...

Story
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 credit.

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 entertaining.

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 literature).

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.

Art
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 Dark Knight.

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.)

Conclusions
Despite flaws in the premise, there is enough good here that this series deserves to be read. 6.5/10.

Comments?

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"EnsViews" are copyright 1997-8 by Paul Ens. They are posted to rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc, emailed to Dark Horse Comics and archived on theForce.net. With the exception of Dark Horse Comics Inc, they may not be reprinted without permission.

Titles, Cover images, Dark Horse Comics, and the Dark Horse logo are trademarks of Dark Horse Comics Inc. and its respective Licensors.

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