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A graphic novel by Tom Vietch and Cam Kennedy (1995, Dark Horse Comics)
Dark Empire, Book 2
10 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Luke fights the resurrected Emperor's Dark Side adepts, while Leia looks for Vima da Boda, and the New Republic worries about the new Galaxy Gun.



2 stars+

Read July 23rd to 24th, 2005 for the second time  
    Maybe it was my really, really low expectations, combined with my lack of memory of most of the events in this book, but it actually came off much better than I remembered it. There are still many things that bugged me a lot, including the artwork, but in general, I rather enjoyed the story. It was the way the story was depicted that gives this book its low rating.

Things are always big in the comics, and they always have been. Before there was a huge Star Wars expanded universe, however, things were much bigger. More recent comics bring things in line with the novels and movies. But when Dark Empire series came out, the big things got bigger. In the previous book, of course, there was the incredibly-super-sized Star Destroyer and the world devastators. This book deals with battle droids, which are necessarily smaller. But for every battle droid, there is one that is even bigger. Then there are rancor-like beasts which eat the largest battle droids! I do wonder why the driods didn't fire a single shot at the creatures. If they could drag a gunship out of the sky, then they should be able to decapitate the beasts, even if the creatures were endowed with the Dark Side of the Force. They were, after all, killed by the smugglers' ships' weapons.

Events and abilities, too, are bigger, though not as big as Luke single-handedly taking out an AT-AT walker in the last book. In this series, there are no limits as to how much a single person can do, or how much damage can be repaired in no time. How the heck did they evacuate Pinnacle Base so fast, when they had no warning? If they did have warning, we should have seen it in these pages.

In fact, some major things are just missing from this story, the most obvious one being Luke and Kam Solusar's first meeting on Nespiss Station. Why wasn't that shown?

I also found that there was too much narrative input in this story. The narrative boxes litter the pages, instead of letting the story progress naturally through dialog, thought or actions. There are so many exclamation points, as if the authors had to convince us that Big! Things! Were! Happening! In! This! Book!!!! It just wasn't necessary.

But the worst thing about this book, the part I hate most of all and find most unacceptable, is the Emperor's ability to "empower" ordinary people (mostly losers, from what I could tell) with the Dark Side of the Force. I have always maintained that Palpatine would not allow more than one apprentice to the Dark Side power, and the Prequels teachings about the Sith confirm this. I can accept Mara, as she was mostly a messenger who knew Force-tricks, at the time. But people who become instantly knowledgeable and agile with the Force, chief lieutenants who were highly visible? No way.

The bad guys were bad for no reason other than to be bad. Killing each other for petty reasons, firing into and destroying crowds... there is no reason for this, and the Emperor's rule could not survive such misuse of power. Fear that your planet will be destroyed by the Death Star is one thing -the targets would have been carefully selected. These cases show an unpredictability that would lead to unrestrainable revolt, because people would not have anything to lose.

Any sense of reality in the Star Wars universe is carelessly thrown out in this book.

I did enjoy the story, though, which I wish had been given a better setting. The failed attack on Byss was engaging, and I like that it failed, but did give us a look at the Galaxy Gun, a weapon that could send planet-killing projectiles through hyperspece (why do they have to be intelligent, though?). Han and Leia's romp through Nar Shadda, however, was mostly wasted space, as it was silly, stupid and boring.

Luke's story, however, takes him to Ossus, which brings the planet back into the current generation. It is unfortunate that we never get to see the results of the archaeology of Ossus, or the great finds that they uncovered, in future books. I thought at first that Luke's discovery of the Padawan system in Vector Prime might be one result, but there were no real Padawans in as seen in The Phantom Menace in the time of the Knights of the Old Republic. There is not much Ossus in this book, but it could have been a minefield for the writers -maybe too much of one, as it gives us too much information.

Finally, we come to the artwork, which is really lousy. Called "stylistic" in the forward, I find it difficult to look at. People are so angular, with no detail at all, and completely unrecognizable as themselves -even aliens such as Ackbar. There is very little color with which to distinguish details, anyway.

The book ends with a cliff-hanger, to a sequel which is, if memory serves, really awful, and often difficult-to-find, even when it was first released.



2 stars

Read on April 22nd, 1996  
    I'm tired of the reincarnating Emperor. This is getting to be a very worn concept. But the biggest problem I have with this story is the ability to transfer Force powers to ordinary people. I am sorry, but that just goes too far. 

The story itself is fairly decent. We get to travel to all sorts of ancient Jedi locations. The best one, of course, is Ossus. Through the holocron, Luke has discovered this ancient place of Jedi power. He also discovers a people who have descended from the Jedi four thousand years ago, the ones who for the most part had to evacuate the planet because of the Sith War

Two of them, youngsters, join Luke, and one of them falls in love with Luke. They discover the ancient Jedi library, and get help from the old tree Jedi from The Sith War in destroying the Emperor's chief lieutenant. 

When all his dark side adepts are killed, however, the Emperor simply creates more. I find that completely unacceptable. 

Meanwhile, Leia and Han have gone back to Nar Shadda to seek out Vima da Boda. They hope that Vima can teach their children in the ways of the Force, things that even Luke might not be able to do. They of course meet up with Boba Fett, and outwit him again. I'm beginning to think that Fett's reputation was undeserved. But maybe he was really good until Return of the Jedi, where he turned stupid. Now, every time we meet him, he is still stupid. 

But between his attack, and an Imperial attack, the Falcon is driven into some unexplored nebula, that has never appeared in any book before or since, even though it seems to be very close to Nar Shadda. Inside, they meet a former Jedi, encased in a mechanical bubble suit, who was chased into hiding by Darth Vader. They fit some outdated weapons onto the Falcon, and leave with the Jedi. Boba Fett quickly descends on them, but is outmatched by this ancient technology, for which he has no shields. Fett disappears from the Star Wars universe for a long time after this. It's probably just as well.

Between all these Jedi being found, Luke hopes to start the resurrection of the Jedi Knights. But his hopes are dashed when he discovers the Emperor has unleashed another superweapon upon the galaxy, the Galaxy Gun, which can fire a planet-smashing torpedo through hyperspace. He destroys the current Rebel base, but they were able to evacuate in time, leading to a silly suspense period where we are led to believe that all the leaders of the Alliance have been killed. 

The Emperor then goes after Leia's kids, especially the one who is in her womb, and ready to enter the world. An assault on the world where they are being hidden fails, and they manage to escape to the new Rebel headquarters. There, Anakin Solo is born, and Luke sees some light come into the world, even though the Emperor is still bringing the galaxy to its knees.

I was disappointed that they ended this volume this way, without a firm conclusion, but it did seem to fit, nevertheless, as Anakin's birth forms a new turning point in the Star Wars Universe.


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