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A graphic novel by Jeremy Barlow, Ron Marz, and Michael Atiyeh (2005, Dark Horse Comics)
Empire comics #23-27
Set immediately after Star Wars: A New Hope

A former smuggler helps a woman running from the rebels, Han meets up with an old friend while gathering supplies, and Luke becomes a General when he meets a clone trooper.




Read on January 21st, 2007  
    This seemed like a very short book, although it appears to be roughly the same size of the other graphic novels of this series. It wasn't bad, but wasn't great. Out of the three stories, the first one interested me the most (and not only because of the scantily-clad female lead character). It was the only one where the characters had some sort of depth, especially considering it was a short story.

The story is called The Bravery of Being Out of Range, and it starts out with a first-person narrative that peters out after a few pages. That's really just to get us up to date. Rasha Bex was running from a Rebel cell under the command of Garm Bel Iblis, which made me wonder whose side she was really on. The former smuggler who helps her, Boshek, is actually quite naive. He helps her escape on his swoop, takes her to a friend's place, but the friend is a rebel sympathizer, who betrays them. I admired the artistry in this story, which seemed to be more pencil-drawn than painted. Of course, the skimpy clothing that Rasha wears, some of which leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination (and I mean nothing), help make the story visually appealing, because she is drawn well. But the rest of the scenery is also drawn impressively, from the swoops to the Imperials at the other end of the bridge. For Rasha was running to the Imperials. It became rather clear, the more she spoke, that she was an Imperial agent. I thought she was perhaps sent to catch him, but that was just a bonus for her, as she gathered information on the six rebel cells on that planet. She feels remorse at letting him be taken into custody, because she fell in love with him, and she thinks he could be useful as a pilot, but she doesn't let that get in her way when he refuses to take her side.

As for the rebels, they were inconsistent. If the lead pursuer could shoot the cables holding the bridge together from such a distance, then he should not have missed sitting targets that were simply hanging from those same cables.

In Idiot's Array, Han and Chewbacca volunteer to pick up some supplies needed for the Alliance. They head to Void station, where Han wants to do some gambling, and where the Bothan information broker is under pressure from Darth Vader to find the location of the rebel fleet. This is the same Bothan that we saw in Target: Vader from The Imperial Perspective, which is nice to see simply as continuity in this discontinuous series. Han meets a woman from his past, Sheel Odala, who betrays him to the Bothan because she owes him a large debt. Chewie is the voice of reason, as he first doesn't want to go to Void station, then wants Han to avoid gambling. When Han is tortured, Sheel can't watch, and walks away. When she sees Chewie, though, she confesses to him. I'm surprised he didn't tear her apart. She leads him to Han, however, and they escape. She even helps him escape once in space as TIE fighters attack him there. That space sequence had one of the greatest art segments in the whole book. I loved the way the lighting was depicted. The artists were, to me, better at depicting mechanical objects than people. All of the people have very strange shapes and textures to their faces. At the end of the story, Vader is so angry at the Bothan that he chops the guy's head off, which probably ends the continuity based on that story.

In "General" Skywalker, Luke, Wedge and another group of pilots are helping Intelligence officers set up a listening post, except that the Empire arrives before they are done. The rebels flee into the forest, except for Wedge and another pilot, who are targeted in space in their X-Wings fighters. When a clone trooper sees the action, he reports to the Imperial in charge, who decides to fire on the man instead. When the clone encounters Luke, he has trouble believing what has happened to the galaxy since he was shot down on this nameless planet twenty years ago. There is a nice two-page spread showing many characters from the Prequel and the Original Trilogy, with Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader spanning the pages, half a head representing each. Since Luke has a lightsaber and claims to be a Jedi, the clone agrees to take his side. Luke never demonstrated any Jedi powers, so he could have easily been a Separatist who had killed a Jedi. But I wonder why the clone thought the war would still be going on after so long. I suppose this was a regular trooper, who needed some reassurance about his command structure, so took the easiest route. He helps Luke and the others get off the planet, and Luke goes back for the clone, who then decides to go into the Rebel Alliance Intelligence department. The artwork was fairly simple, but managed to work well for me. There was nothing outstanding about it, though, except for the two-page spread.

I have quite suddenly grown tired of comics, so these are not doing much to impress me. I have found most of the stories to be mediocre, especially when they are told as short stories instead of large story arcs. It is difficult to give the characters depth in such short stories, but even much of the artwork is rather unstimulating. I plan to continue this series to the end of its run, but will not be continuing into the Rebellion series. I will also continue until the end of the Clone Wars series. I will definitely not be reading the latest incarnation of the Knights of the Old Republic, and have yet to decide about Dark Times or the futuristic Legacy. Time will tell whether I can stay away from large story arcs like the latter series. For now, I can only hope the last compilations of this Empire series will be more stimulating.


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