I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!
I said in the review for the first part of Star Trek: The Modala Imperative that I probably love Star Wars more than I ever loved my first wife. . .and I meant every word of it. I'm gonna make myself sound old here, but kids today don't understand what a game-changer Star Wars was back in the 70's. It was like a pop culture atomic bomb. Fallout from Star Wars impacted EVERYTHING. . .including me. The original 6 issue mini-series of Star Wars comics were the first comics I bought and they are the reason I love comics today.
So, my enduring geek love of Star Wars now well-established, let's take a look at what Dark Horse was doing with Star Wars during the period of time when nobody thought there would be any more movies and things were just sort of. . .strange.
STAR WARS: DARK EMPIRE II (Dark Horse)
After the Emperor's death at the hands of Luke Skywalker, one of his Dark Side minions (Executor Sedriss) carries out Palpatine's final orders (Operation Shadow Hand) starting with attacking a war droid manufacturing world turning to the rebellion.
Elsewhere, Luke Skywalker and Jedi knight Kam Solusar leave the rebel headquarters on a mission to find ancient Jedi relics while Han Solo and Princess Leia travel to a smuggler's world to find an old Jedi woman.
And then. . .
Suprise! The Emperor isn't dead after all.
Right off the bat, looking at the giant "crawl" of backstory on the first page, I had a bad feeling about this.
If you don't know the events of "Dark Empire" it might be a bit daunting to come into part 2 with just that first page mini info dump to guide you in.
That said. . .
Once you start reading, the story is actually pretty simple and straightforward. It's divided into 4 narrative threads: An Imperial officer following the last commands of his Emperor. Luke and his Jedi friend setting out to find some ancient Jedi swag. . .Han and Leia setting out to find an old woman for, reasons? And Lando going on a Trojan horse mission to infiltrate and attack the Imperial headquarters.
The story is written in a slightly annoying way, where the author tells you what is happening in the picture right in front of you, but it's not too bad once you get used to it.
The art is a mixed bag for me. Kennedy is one of those unique "love it or hate it" artists. His depiction of vehicles and technology is masterful and deeply detailed. On the other hand, he has a real problem with faces, and really people in general. None of the characters bear even the slightest resemblance to their movie counterparts. Princess Leia suffers the worst. You can barely even tell she's female. And for some reason, Han Solo has light hair. The Deus Ex Resurrecta Clone Emperor at the end looks like Count Dracula. . .
The coloring deserves special mention here. . .and not for good reasons. The panels are rendered in a strange, almost monochromatic way, with each of them being mostly in one unnatural color. . .red, green, blue, purple. There isn't a single panel that is colored in a "normal" way. It's like the whole thing is an odd exercise in experimental art.
Overall, despite the odd artwork, this was a decent start to the series. I wouldn't call it a SOLID start. . .it's definitely a bit shaky, but it isn't that bad, either.
Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca travel to the smuggler's world of Nar Shaddaa in order to find an old Jedi woman, Vim-Da-Boda.
They quickly discover that what seems like every bounty hunter in the galaxy, including the infamous Boba Fett, is on their trail for a huge reward put on their heads by the Empire and the heroes end up having to fight for their lives, barely escaping the planet with Vim-Da-Boda.
This Han Solo/ Princess Leia-centric issue is mostly action as the heroes fight, run, and fly for their lives from bounty hunters and the Empire during what seems to be an ill-advised trip to the most obvious (to everyone but the heroes) place for a smuggler to visit.
If the first issue was a bit shaky, this one is even more so. Boba Fett seems to be written out of character, with thuggish dialogue, everyone JUST happens to be in the right place to cause problems for Solo and company, and. . .for God's sake, why are they even there? Inna-Da-Vida-Boda has to be the worst-named macguffin since. . .I can't even think of a since.
The art remains a strange mixture of great and awful. Ships, droids, and anything technological is rendered in stunning detail. Anything biological looks half-assed and strange. And once again, Princess Leia suffers the most. In this issue she's wearing a trucker cap for some reason. Then there's that strange monochrome coloring where each panel is shaded with a different, unnatural color. It's just weird.
Overall, this issue is okay for what it is. . .all action and Boba Fett fan service. It could have very easily been a one-shot issue and been fine. It's pretty much a self-contained story, and as such, it feels a bit out of place and unnecessary to the mini-series it's a part of.
Luke Skywalker and Kam Solusar travel to the ancient Jedi planet of Ossus following clues that they hope will lead to artifacts that can help rebuild the Jedi Order.
They discover a tribe of force using natives and must fight for their lives against Executor Sedriss and Dark Force stormtroopers, barely escaping with their lives only by the intervention of a giant force endowed tree.
Ooooookay. . .
So this is where this series finally jumps the rails. The previous two issues were a bit shaky, but now we're officially in territory where even George Lucas would be like, "Whoa! Hold on now. Cut that part out."
I realize that in Star Wars lore, the Force is all around everything, but in this series, they take that notion and run wild with it. Droids have the force. Trees have the force. Stormtroopers have the force. I'm surprised that The Emperor doesn't order a ham, green pepper, and Dark Force omlette for breakfast at his favorite Naboo Waffle House.
And then there's (STILL) the art on this thing. It's a colorful mess that is oddly enough brilliant and beautifully done in places and God-Awful in others.
Here's the art question at hand for THIS particular issue. . .with all the strange, brilliant primary colors splashed everywhere else, for God's sake why the F#$K are the lightsabers all friggin' WHITE?
I'm only halfway through this series. It's getting rough now, folks.
Luke Skywalker and Kam Solusar complete their mission on Ossus with the recovery of a trove of ancient Jedi books and their first two recruits for the New Jedi Order.
Lando Calrissian and Wedge Antilles set into motion their plan to attack Imperial Headquarters with giant, deadly war droids while above the planet, The Emperor inspects his newest super-weapon. . .a huge space gun that fires intelligent hyperspace projectiles.
Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca run for their lives from their ill-advised trip to Nar Shaddaa. The Millenium Falcon is heavily damaged by Boba Fett and they take shelter in a huge gas cloud, where they discover a hidden planet with steam-powered spaceships ruled by a paraplegic Jedi Knight. . .
Steam powered spaceships? Really? No. . .really? And there just happens to be a JEDI there? Ho-Lee $H!T, what a coincidence!
Last issue this train jumped the tracks. This issue it runs straight off the friggin' cliff and it doesn't even hit the brakes.
That's not to say it's ALL bad. There's some pretty good scenes on Byss (which I guess is this continuity's Imperial Headquarters instead of Coruscant) during Lando and Wedge's "Trojan Horse" invasion. The art and writing come together to make those scenes, as well as Han and Leia's escape from Nar Shaddaa pretty exciting.
But steam powered spaceship? And then there's the Emperor looking like Count Dracula just "making" a couple of Imperial Officers into Dark Jedi on the spot. If it's so easy just throwing the Force on someone, then why is Luke searching for Jedi. Can't he just make a few?
And THEN there's a scene where some chubby dude in a trucker cap declares he can sense the force on the paraplegic guy who rules the steampunk space people. . .and then I realized that it's SUPPOSED to be Princess Leia speaking. Seriously. . .this artist has severe problems drawing women.
Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia escape Boba Fett with the help of a giant steampunk electro-gun installed on the Millenium Falcon, and in the process, gain a new recruit for the New Jedi Order. . .paraplegic Jedi Knight Empatojayos Brand.
Lando Calrissian and Wedge Antilles' attack on Byss goes badly when the Emperor unleashes Dark Force Rancors on them, forcing the rebels to abandon the attack and run for their lives with the assistance of a group of friendly smugglers who just happened to be in the area.
Luke Skywalker begins to make romantic moves on his new, much younger student, Jem, as they return to the rebel base. The beginning of their inappropriate relationship is interrupted by the utter destruction of the rebel planet by the Emperor's new "Galaxy Gun".
Alrighty, then. . .let's just break it on down in an easy-to-read list!
1. Giant steampunk electro-gun.
2. Huge Dark Force empowered monsters.
3. Deus Ex Machina Smuggler Rescue.
4. Inappropriate student teacher relationship with a much younger girl Luke has known for about 2 days, at most.
5. Count Dracula Emperor able to throw the dark side of the force on just about anyone or anything.
6. Princess Leia in a trucker cap.
1. The cover.
2. Some of the battle scenes.
After the destruction of the rebel base, The Emperor sets his sights on capturing the force powerful children of Han Solo and Princess Leia and sends his Dark Jedi and military forces to attack the planet of new Alderaan.
All seems lost until a friendly group of smugglers who just happen to be in the area (AGAIN!) manage to evacuate the planet and get the heroes to safety so that Princess Leia can have her third baby without the annoyance of stormtroopers in the birthing chamber. . .
Last issue. It's over, thank God.
This final issue doesn't really end the story so much as set things up for a sequel and then just sort of. . .stop.
This was an entirely unsatisfactory ending. But to tell the truth, I really wasn't surprised. This series has been in a free fall off the cliff since the third issue, did I REALLY think it would end well?
No, but I WAS sort of expecting an actual end to the story, not just a slow roll up to the last page with a little "The End" to let me know that this oddly colorful experiment in how low Star Wars can go was over with.
This mini-series started shaky, but okay. . .then went into an extreme nosedive with the introduction of Force trees, steam-powered spaceships, a Deus Ex Machina gang of smugglers who always managed to be in the right place at the right time to save the heroes, a cloned Emporer who looked like Count Dracula being able to put the Dark Side of the Force into just about anyone or anything, ANOTHER giant planet-killing space weapon, and last but not least. . .Princess Leia being drawn like a chubby dude wearing a trucker cap.
As a practically life-long Star Wars fan, I find this mini to be a slap to the face followed by a sucker punch to the nuts. I find it hard to believe that this thing even exists. I WANT to deny that it exists. . .but there it is, sitting there mocking everything that I love about Star Wars.
I said in my last review (of Star Trek The Next Generation: The Modala Imperative) that those issues were the first time I ever felt like throwing perfectly good comic books in the garbage can. . .
I want to set THESE comic books on fire and watch them burn to ashes.
Up next. . .
Marvel Executive #1: Boy, those Avenger movies are doing GREAT! Everybody sure loves Captain America. What can we do to expand his exposure in other markets? Ideas?
Marvel Executive #2: We can reboot his comic book with a new #1 issue. Everybody loves new #1 issues, right?
Marvel Executive #1: I like the way you're thinking, #2! Anyone else?
Marvel Executive #3: How about in the new #1 comic we have a completely different character than the one in the movies? That way we can use the name recognition AND give the kids something new.
Marvel Executive #1: I LOVE IT! what can possibly go wrong?
Marvel's extremely short 6 issue run on All New Captain America. . .be there or be square!
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