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A graphic novel by Steve Perry and Ron Randall  (2000, Dark Horse Comics)
4 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Guri is hunted by those who want to possess her, while she tries to eliminate her assassin programming.



4 stars

Read on June 3rd, 2001  
    A really good story, combined with amazing art make this graphic novel so much better than its predecessor.   Very little detracts from this excellent book.

I have found that the best comic adaptations have been the simplest ones.  When they try to do too much, it gets way out of hand.  That's what happened with the first Shadows of the Empire graphic novel.  It tried to do everything, and got away with none of it.  It was just really, really bad.  This one, on the other hand, had one focus, with obstacles to overcome.  It was great.

In the wake of Xizor's death at the end of Shadows of the Empire, Black Sun is left without a leader.  The various factions vie for control, much as the factions of the Empire would do in later books.  One thing I don't really like is the way the authors use the cliché of the previously-unknown niece who suddenly comes in to take control.  There was never any reason to think Xizor wouldn't have had a surviving niece, but the fact that she knew Guri's control codes suggests that she was in his confidence, and I'm not so sure about that.  For the Faleen, family appears to be very important.  She would have been at his side during the first book.

This niece disguises herself as a human while trying to take control of Black Sun without killing everybody.  But that becomes inevitable, and she lets the other contenders take it out on each other, while she watches from the sidelines, working her part in secret.  

But the main focus of the book is Guri, the human replica droid who was Xizor's bodyguard.  She suddenly finds herself without an employer, and she discovers that she no longer wants to be an assassin.  So she evades the Imperial agents, several bounty hunters, and a series of sentry ships to locate a very specialized droid creator, one of her creators.  She asks him to reprogram her.  In return, she retrieves his surgeon droid from somebody who has kidnapped it.  This she does with ease.

As she returns with it, more people are on her tail, including Xizor's niece, and her bounty hunters, and Luke, Han and Leia, who are worried that she is on the loose.  But by the time they get to the surgeon's hideout, Guri's memory of being an assassin has been wiped.  Each group has wiped itself out, except for Luke's.  Xizor's niece survives, and gives Guri codes that are supposed to allow her to control the droid, and in a suspenseful couple of panels, Guri fakes it, so that she catches her new "employer" by surprise, disarming her.  

I do have a couple of questions, regarding strange reasoning or logic.  One is Leia's discovery of Xizor's niece in her disguise.  Where did that come from?  If nobody knew Xizor had a niece, then where did the files come from?  When the bounty hunter comes for Guri, the droid follows his instructions and ties up the surgeon and walking out before finally confronting him.  Why?  She has shown before that she could take on several opponents without even a single shot fired.  She does the same thing at the end, but that shows her sense of humour.  Lastly, since when did Han Solo become such a magnet or dope for women?  He has always been depicted as a rogue, but all throughout, he has never been dumbfounded around women, nor as a womanizer once he had someone around his arm.  It just didn't make sense.

There are also a couple of continuity glitches here, along with the previous book, but they are not so important.  Especially strange is that the Millenium Falcon can come and go to Coruscant without any problems.  When Guri goes to rescue the surgeon droid, the narration tells us that few people even dare go to that planet for fear of being destroyed.  But both Guri and the bounty hunter got through the sentry droids with barely a scratch.  So are we supposed to be impressed?

Anyway, I thought the story was extremely well presented.  Guri desperately wants to get on with her life -but what is life to a droid?  So she goes to all the trouble to get reprogrammed, but she uses her assassin skills to go about it.  And later, she is still in trouble, and even though she doesn't remember how to be an assassin, she still has memory of how to defend herself and others.  Ah, the irony!

They never cleared up whether Xizor actually died in the last book, but we are reasonably sure he did, otherwise he would no doubt have come back to lead Black Sun, or else tried to kill Vader.  Guri is still alive, and the authors decided to resurrect Dash Rendar!  I thought he had such a meaningless death in Shadows of the Empire, but I never thought he was interesting enough to bring back.

Finally, the art was terrific.  I'm not sure about the logic of drawing Guri as top-heavy as she was.  An assassin should have a small profile, to be able to sneak through small spaces and go unseen.  She definitely didn't have a small profile.  For some reason, "beautiful woman" always translates to "large-breasted", especially in comics.  Oh, well.  I found the twin bounty hunters drawn much more enticing...  But what really impressed me was the depth of the drawings.  The best part was entering hyperspace.  But the flashbacks and memories were also great, as were the nature shots.  Truly superb.

This was a great entry into the saga, especially since it wasn't really something that needed to be concluded.  The story was nicely simple, the artwork was great, and the characterization was surprisingly complex.  Except for a few questionable moments, which never detracted from the story, I was nicely impressed.


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