By Tom Veitch, Cam Kennedy & Jim Baikie (Marvel)
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the mythology of Star Wars which – in the UK and thanks to the science fictional nature of time zones – celebrated its 40th anniversary yesterday. What you might not know is that the first sight future fanatics got of its breathtakingly expansive continuity and the mythology-in-the-making way back in 1977 was the premier issue of the Marvel comicbook tie-in.
It hit shelves two weeks before the film launched in cinemas, setting the scene for a legion of kids and beginning a mini-phenomenon which encompassed the initial movie trilogy and expanded those already vast imaginative horizons.
Marvel had an illustrious run with the franchise – nine years’ worth of comics, specials and paperback collections – before the option was left to die.
Comicbook exploits were reinstated in 1993 by Dark Horse Comics who built on the film legacy with numerous superb titles and tales until Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars in 2012.
Around the same time, the home of Donald & Mickey also bought Marvel Comics and before long the original magic was being rekindled…
When Marvel relaunched the enterprise, they included not just a core title but also solo books for the lead stars. Moreover, rather than ignore what had passed between their two bites of the cherry, Disney/Marvel began reissuing the Dark Horse material too.
Amongst the very best of it was a tryptic of miniseries digitally released as one grand adventure under the Star Wars Legend imprint.
Scripted by Tom Veitch, Star Wars: Dark Empire Trilogy is set after the movie Return of the Jedi and comprises two 6-issue miniseries – Dark Empire and Dark Empire II – plus 2-part concluding mini-epic Empire’s End. Also included in this galactic grimoire is full information on all the characters involved courtesy of Star Wars Handbook 3: Dark Empire.
The drama unfolds about ten years after the Battle of Endor and the death and redemption of Darth Vader. Although the Emperor is gone, the war continues.
The militaristic remnants of the Empire are still battling for every inch of the galaxy. The New Republic is desperately hard-pressed. Han Solo and his wife Leia, although new parents, are as deeply involved as ever, and Luke Skywalker is pushed to ever-more desperate measures as he attempts to destroy the pervasive unleashed evil corrupting the Universe. His solution to rebalance the Force is to revive and rebuild the fabled Jedi Knights…
A mysterious new leader and ingenious new super-weapons are winning the war for the Empire, and the heroes must separate to succeed. As Han and Leia pursue the strategic aspects of the conflict, Luke heads directly to the source and succumbs to the Dark Side when a dead foe returns.
…And Leia’s newly conceived child is destined to become the greatest threat the galaxy has ever faced… Can the heroes reunite before all is lost?
Dark Horse kicked off its entire Star Wars franchise with this supremely moody, action-packed thriller. Cam Kennedy (reuniting with Veitch after previously collaborating on the excellent and peculiar Light and Darkness War), illustrating in his own unique and magnificent manner, provides quirky but reassuringly authentic settings and scenarios for a space opera romp that satisfyingly captures the feel and pace of the cinema versions, whilst building on the canon for Force-starved fanatics everywhere.
Veitch & Kennedy returned in a blaze of glory after the runaway success of Dark Empire with a superb continuation of the further battles of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and all those other movie favourites…
The ghost of Emperor Palpatine, deprived of the clone bodies he was incubating to ensure his return to chilling physicality, is intent on possessing the unborn child in Leia’s belly even as his Dark Side lieutenants struggle to become his successor.
The Empire’s last infrastructure remnants are producing more diabolical planet killing weapons to terrorise and subdue the battered, war-weary galaxy.
…And Skywalker has flown off on a wild goose chase in pursuit of lost Jedi survivors. How can the good guys possibly win this time…?
With extreme verve, style and panache, apparently, as this big budget blockbuster fairly rockets along full of tension and invention, with action aplenty and spectacular set pieces for the fans – although it might be a tad bewildering if your Star Wars IQ is limited.
Capping off the gusher of cosmic thrills and chills is the final story-arc of the sequence, Empire’s End, with Jim Baikie replacing Kennedy as artist for a much shorter adventure that wraps up all the plot-threads in a fittingly spectacular if somewhat rushed fashion.
After that true Jedi adepts can enhance their SWIQ by memorising a veritable avalanche of new friends and foes in the data-drenched Star Wars Handbook 3: Dark Empire
and also reacquaint themselves with old favourites – everybody and everything from Boba Fett to the Jedi Holocron…
Even more sheer joy can be experienced by viewing the huge gallery of covers from the individual issues as originally painted by Dave Dorman.
Unchallenging fun, beautiful pictures, and an utter delight for devotees of a galaxy not so very far, far away.
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