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SOTE Shadows of the Empire - Evolution #1 (of 5)
Story: Steve Perry
Pencils: Ron Randall
Inker: Tom Simmons
Color: Dave Nestelle
Editor: Bob Cooper

Guri, the human replica droid bodyguard of the late Xizor, looks for a droid expert to help her become more human.

EnsViews Comic Review
Reviewed 02/15/98

Where the original 'Shadows of the Empire' media event was used as an opportunity to showcase the entire movie cast in a new story, this sequel puts one of the few original SOTE characters at center stage. Fortunately, this character was the most original (and my favorite) new addition: Guri, the human replica droid assassin.

Unusual for a SW story, the premise is an individual journey. Guri is seeking her humanity (a la Pinocchio, the Tinman, Data), but killer programming, killer motives and killer looks is bound to make her quest more than a solely inner struggle. From what I've seen so far, this arc could be very entertaining.

What strikes me about this single issue is the lack of narrative and dialog. Words are few and far between. It certainly takes its time in showing travel and setting up background. This isn't a knock, mind you, as the issue doesn't feel slow, but rather meticulous as a droid would be. Six issues of this pace might get a bit tiresome.

The weakness here could be the antagonist Azool, whom I fear is a simple retread of Xizor. Worse yet, the who's who in the back (a great addition, BTW) has me worried that Xizor might not be dead.

I can admire the technical skill of Fegredo's cover, but I don't care for it. The stars feel silly and I'm sorry to see that this theme will be carried. Also, Luke and the other movie heroes depicted on the cover appear silently in only two brief flashback panels. This one feels like a ploy to get people to buy the book. (Whatever works, I guess... since people should buy it.)

The pencils are pretty good, with a combination of very accurate and detailed technology along with very realistic and well-posed characters. The quality of this work was overshadowed for me (perhaps because I'd seen a black and white version earlier) by the Nestelle's very nice colors. The coloring effects were done with obvious care and add richness to every panel.

I do have a few concerns over alien designs. Kar Yang looks too much like the Loony Tunes' Marvin the Martian bird warriors. The human with distorted faces aliens made the book feel more like Star Trek than Star Wars in places. However, these are minor complaints about a high quality work.

The inside of this issue is a great start to a new series. The art is top notch and the premise is promising. 8/10. Recommended.

Previewed 11/26/97
I received a preview copy of DH's "SOTE:Evolution #1" just before the mail strike hit Canada. I won't do a full review until it hits the news-stands in February, but here's a copy of the letter I sent to the editor.

Mr Cooper,

The best part of the original 'Shadows of the Empire' story was the opportunity to see familiar characters in situations which tie in tightly with the events of the movies. I think I'm correct in saying that the popularity of various SW comic and novel titles increases as the use of "main" movie characters increases. Han/Luke/Leia titles are inherently more popular than Wedge/Ackbar titles which are more popular than titles 1000s of years before ANH.

Luke may be on the cover of SOTE:Evolution, but the movie heroes are little more than props in flashback sequences in this story. I applaud Dark Horse for taking a risk and accepting the challenge of launching a series where none of the main characters are from the movies... and only ONE has appeared in SW fiction before.

Aside from a chance to see Vader back in action, my favorite thing about SOTE was Guri. While the premise is familiar, Evolution #1 shows that Guri is more than another Pinocchio/Data/Tinman looking to become human. In her universe droids are appliances at best... slaves at worst. If you throw in a dark side of lethal assassin programming, drive for revenge and killer looks... this one could be fun.

Based on the inked pages I saw, Ron Randall has everything I want in a SW artist. His rendering of known SW technology was dead on and rich with detail. The movie characters looked like the actors who played them. There's a great mix of established species and new aliens... none of whom are simply humans with funny faces.

There's room for improvement... I'm not thrilled about attempting to replace Xizor with Azool who's a virtual clone. I think Kar Yang looks way to much like the Martians from Bugs Bunny. As far as I know, "Photon Torpedoes" belong in the Star Trek universe only.

This title's full of potential and I look forward to seeing it met. (If SOTE goes well, can I get that Mara Jade title I've been asking for?)

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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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