By Samuel R .Delaney, illustrated by Howard Chaykin (Berkley/Putnam)
SBN: 399-12245-1

There was a time when Howard Chaykin was about more than lewdness, and potty-mouthed confrontation (not that I’m opposed in any way to those highly entertaining facets of his work): Once he was the darling of the swashbuckling science fiction crowd, both in comics like Monark Starstalker (Marvel) or his own Cody Starbuck, and in the superb paperback covers he produced. In 1976, before he began adapting Star Wars for Marvel, he started a project for Byron Priess Visual Publications with acclaimed author Samuel R .Delaney. It took nearly three years but when it was released Empire was an instant classic and a genuine contender for the title “First Graphic Novel”.

Vast, lush and expansive, this is the story of Wyrn, a young archaeologist who becomes embroiled in a race to recover the separated segments of an artefact that will bring down the dictatorship of the Information-Barons of the Kūndūke. Seduced as much by the charismatic rebel leader Qrelon as by the thirst for adventure and knowledge, the search takes him across the universe and into the heart of corruption in a non-stop thrill-ride of fantastic, exotic adventure.

Perhaps a little simplistic by modern standards, this high-speed, high-concept romp is magnificently illustrated in an engagingly painterly manner whilst Delaney’s poetic style creates a seductive blend of action and political thriller richly steeped in technological philosophy. Whilst the elements of young rebels and sprawling evil dictatorships has now become common currency, the sheer style of this book keeps it a high point of the genre and a worthwhile read for any fan.

© 1978 Byron Preiss Visual Publications Inc. All Rights Reserved.