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A graphic novel by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy (1993, Dark Horse Comics)
Dark Empire, Book 1
10 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Luke goes over to the Dark Side of the Force to try undermine the resurrected Emperor's plans for the galaxy.




Read on April 24th, 2005 for the second time  
    As mentioned below, my biggest complaint about this book is the amount of power that everybody has. Consider even Leia, who in the Grand Admiral Thrawn trilogy, which occurs just previous to this, couldn't move around Coruscant without getting permission from Mon Mothma. Now, she can roam about at will, and has somehow managed to gain a lot of Force ability, as well. Leia and Han work fast, too: I don't think it's even been a year since the twins were born, and she's pregnant again!

Luke and the Emperor are vastly more powerful than we've ever seen before. Luke somehow decides in no time at all to abandon all of his teaching, and to enter the Dark Side willingly. This is very much out of character for Luke, compared to any of the other books out there. He is willing, in this story, to allow so many other people to die, innocents and Imperials and New Republic members, without a thought. In fact, everybody is very willing to sacrifice as many people and ships as necessary here. Lando throws away two Star Destroyers. Those things take a lot of time and resources to construct!

What a strange prophecy given by the holocron. The wording is ridiculous, and it is way too detailed and straightforward for a prophecy. I was embarrassed just reading it.

While I like the ambition displayed by the story, especially since it was the first of the new graphic novels, it doesn't age very well, especially since we've grown to know these characters even better as they mature. It is unfortunate that the artwork doesn't show the characters and situations in a better style, because everybody was unrecognizable, and in many instances we only get to see ambiguous angular shapes with sharp colours. In a time before Star Wars comics became mature, this one is much more of an old-style comic book. After the new Republic and Empire series, with mature and interesting storylines, this one seems a bit out of place.



3 stars

Read October 25th to 27th, 1995  
    The art was too ambiguous for my tastes, with lots of angular shapes, and dull colours.  The story was intense, and pretty well thought out, even though I thought all the characters had more power than should ever be possible.

It turns out that after Grand Admiral Thrawn was killed, the Imperial warlords joined together, and retook Coruscant.  The planet could have been devastated, with ships crashing all over it, including a stolen Star Destroyer, commanded by Luke. 

Luke manages to single-handedly destroy an ATAT walker with the Force, which I thought was silly.  But then he is captured by a Force storm, and brought to the new Imperial throne world, Byss, where he is introduced to the Emperor, who has passed from one cloned body to the next.  Luke decides to join him, and learn the secrets of the dark side from within.

Meanwhile, Leia senses that Luke is in grave danger, so she and Han take the Falcon to Nar Shadda, where Han became a smuggler when he was young.  There, they meet old friends, and old enemies, including Boba Fett, who has resumed a normal life after escaping from the Sarlacc on Tatooine.  They manage to escape, and Sala Zend helps her old boyfriend get to Byss, where her ship is impounded. 

Boba Fett reaches Byss first, but he does not have a docking permit, so he crashes into the planetary shield. 

The Emperor has launched a massive assault on Mon Calamari, using his new World Devastators, which consume all manner of materials, bring them immediately to a recycling chamber, and create robotic fighter ships.  This is the silliest concept I can see in the whole book.  There is no way a ship like that could produce the high quality and precision parts to make a ship that would be able to fly, not to mention fight on its own.  And it can eat up a couple of  Star Destroyers, several times its size, and store all that material somewhere.  No thanks.

But Luke is in charge of the Devastator fleet, and he is sabotaging the efforts.  He thinks he is sabotaging the new Emperor's plans, but in reality, his work is not impeding those plans in the least.  The Emperor is willing to sacrifice all those lives and equipment, and even major battles, in order to win his slave.  For even though Luke is doing good for the galaxy, he is falling deeper and deeper to the Dark Side. 

When Leia arrives, he gives her R2D2, who has all the Emperor's battle plans and access codes, but he cannot accompany them back.  The Emperor interrogates Leia, and it looks like she is about to fall to the dark side, because she is so angry.  But she manages to escape, even with the Emperor's holocron, a device with a semi-sentient library inside it, which tells of ancient Jedi teachings and battles.  A really, really cool idea.

So R2D2 is able to destroy all the Word Devastators, but Luke reappears on the Emperor's new, bigger Star Destroyer, his new flagship.  Leia manages to board it somehow, and the Emperor welcomes her.  But she feels that Luke is willing to come back to the Light Side, and her love for him does indeed bring him back.  The Emperor is so enraged, that he creates a Force storm that destroys him and his ship.

Somewhere in there, we find out that Leia is pregnant with her third child, and she and Han come across an old, withered Jedi named Vima da Boda, who gives Leia her old lightsaber, and gives her some sort of cryptic predictions.  We also discover how the Emperor survived the Battle of Endor.  He had dozens of clones on Byss, and his Dark Side spirit was able to move from his old body at Endor, to one of those clones.  Apparently, he had done this many times before Endor, also.  Luke destroys all the clones, but misses one, into which the Emperor takes refuge, taking control of Luke again, before they board the new Super Star Destroyer. 

I think the Emperor has way too much power here.  He never showed so much in Jedi, and there is no reason to think that he should be hiding it there.  His ability to transfer from body to body, and even to the one in Leia's womb, is a neat idea, but to travel thousands of light years to move to a clone is pushing it. 

Leia seems to have much more power here than she does in any of the other books or comics.  I think Leia was the one who suffered the most from the art and style of the book, too.  Although I couldn't recognize Han lots of times, either. 

And as we know from the second book, Luke missed a clone...

But this was a riveting book when there were not too many Star Wars books out, and it was really interesting to see how one could try and fail to infiltrate the Dark Side of the Force.  I think the Force is hard to build a story upon, so it should be left to the sidelines, implied, not shown.  Otherwise, it can get out of hand.


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