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on October 22, 2004
While the artistic depictions of some characters may be a bit dodgy, this first story arc of the Empire comic was well "storyboarded" and well-written.

Vader fighting cloned stormtroopers on Coruscant. What can I say? This was a good way to grab the reader's attention right at the start.

One weakness of Betrayal is that we don't get much story surrounding new characters such as Trachta and Gauer; also, things move rather quickly at one point, and the comic probably could have been better if the progress of the conspiracy had been fleshed out for two more issues. The design of Trachta is nice because it shows another example of Imperial use of cyborging via a breathing apparatus. I would like to see some of the new characters from this story arc in later material.

It should be mentioned here that the plot of some Imperial generals trying to assassinate Vader is ultimately derived from the incident with Hitler's generals, and it's already been used in the Marvel comic series. In fact, both versions ( Marvel and Dark Horse ) involve an airlock, but the scenes are played differently. The drama of the Marvel scene is all about the generals thinking Vader's been blown out into space, and then Vader's hand appears on the edge of the airlock and he hauls himself back into the ship. In Betrayal's version we get to see Vader "flying" around in the breached airlock with lightsaber on, slicing through huge chunks of metallic debris.
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on December 5, 2012
I'll come right out and say it -- I'm not an avid follower of the Star Wars comic books, despite being a long-time fan of the series (ever since seeing the Special Edition in theaters in 1997). I will read them when they interest me, and I particularly like most of the "Tales" collections, but most of the Expanded Universe in general has been rather hit and miss for me. When our library purchased several of the comics, however, including the first four books of the "Empire" series, I decided to give them a look and see what I'd been missing.

To put it as politely as I can... perhaps this wasn't the best place for a comic "newbie" to start.

Volume 1 of the "Empire" series, "Betrayal," chronicles an attempt to murder both Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader by a group of high-ranking Imperials seeking to seize control of the Empire for themselves. Said plan involves a batch of specially conditioned cloned stormtroopers, a rogue "Jedi" planted on a remote world, and an ill-timed trip out an airlock for Darth Vader. Both Sith Lords are far more cunning and tough to kill than the conspirators realize, however, and that's not to mention what happens when said conspirators start turning on each other...

The plot has potential -- given more time to build on both plot and characters, it could have been a fascinating story arc. But none of the characters are given time to develop, so we are unable to identify with them or even learn their true motives for wanting to seize power for themselves. The plot degenerates into a confusing mess partway through, and it becomes difficult to figure out what's going on. And the canon characters themselves act off from their movie personalities -- Boba Fett seems entirely too wordy and too friendly, Vader acts irrationally, and Palpatine, the over-the-top villain from the movies, is incredibly bland here.

The art could have possibly saved a less-than-stellar storyline, but it's rather dismal as well. The colors are bland, the line-art lackluster, and all the minor characters seem to suffer from same-face syndrome. Both Vader's and the stormtroopers' helmets look squashed, as if they ran headfirst into a wall before the events of the story, and Emperor Palpatine looks more like the Thing from Fantastic Four than an actual human being. (Granted, he looked pretty gnarly in the movies, but come on, people, this is ridiculous...)

Also, this may simply be a "nerd" nitpick rearing its head, but... don't lightsabers leave fairly bloodless injuries, seeing as they cauterize wounds as they create them? So why do lightsaber battles seem to end in a bloody mess in this comic?

All in all, this comic did not win me over, and it hasn't exactly made me want to rush out and buy more Star Wars comics anytime soon. The idea had promise, but it needed more than one issue and a much better artist to give it the justice it deserved.
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on February 9, 2013
this and others of the series are in the Omnibus Star Wars collection for much less. I order several of this series only to find i already had them in the Omnibus book for less money , alot less money!
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on October 19, 2003
Simple observation cannot deny the cold truth of Empire: Betrayal. This is mediocre meat, a comic so laudably bland as to be purchased only for the determined collector or just curious buyer. And with so many peculiarities and problems here, preferably not at all.
The art is a mixed meal that incites disappointment. You have page after page of lacklustre illustration and dull colouring, interspersed with these intermittent panels of admirable artwork. The Star Destroyer shot, a familiar and faithful rendition from a movie screenshot, is one that certainly stands out. Strangely, I thought background scenery was actually rendered better and with more creativity than the foreground activity that is the primary focus of a reader.
Apparently there was some difficulty drawing the Padme character. Her hairline was so far back from forehead it brought reminders of Nomi Sunrider, a character from another comic whose half-bald head was most prominent. We also get that blasted face again you'll recognise it from the Mara Jade comic and the Imperial officer's face used for most Imperial officer faces there. Character poses were too often puerile and didn't parallel that character's speech. Like Vader trying to explain something to his Emperor, reaching out to him with one had; like his combat posture that too often just depicts him awkwardly bent. And of course, the Jedi girl was boobed up big, rather conspicuous when the rest if her attire is very covered.
Adding itch to scratch was the dialogue. Just as bad as the lines from Tales of the Jedi, the depth of character dialogue can be summed up as food without flavour, not just flavour missing from food. So many one-sentence lines, so many simple worded conversations as to render speech bubbles a waste of time. The Emperor had some damn good lines in Dark Empire; here he was as stale as the storyline.
That is, if you desire to call a cadre of top Imperial execs plotting the coup of the Sith themselves, as though such reality was possible. This comic lacked a cast readers could identify with. No exploration of the Imperial schemers, no insight to cybernetic Trachta, who was on comradely terms to Palpatine for three decades. They are just there, double-dealing each other, unknown other than name.
Scenes apparently flow they swift here, and without starting them with a new page they can get a bit too fast. You'll be reading the schemers, then abruptly a Vader scene, which is repeated over. Boba Fett was thrown in at the end for no other reason than to have an excuse to feature him for a few pages. His exclusion would have made little difference. And why now, after a couple decades, would Vader ponder his loyalty to his master, that he should flashback to his apprentice childhood?
What is the master plan for ridding themselves of the galaxy's two deadliest individuals? Lure Vader away, as though a contingent of troopers and riffraff would actually succeed where countless Jedi failed. Then---and the part I thought I had misread---march into the throne room and arrest Palpatine! But don't jump for the escape pods just yet, it gets better. You can't say the spastic-brained officer had no idea Palpatine has elite Royal Guardsmen or that he's a Sith, the plotters do say they want to end the Sith reign. And when Palpatine lets loose that lightning, what did that officer think was going to happen?
Overall, this is by far a comic better borrowed than bought, if these aspects are of concern for you. The art is far below par than what it can be these days, character dialogue way to simple and short, and a storyline with no surprises thrown in make this comic lacking behind better peers.
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VINE VOICEon July 27, 2007
There is, give or take a year or two, about two decades spanning the time between the end of "The Revenge of the Sith" and the start of "A New Hope." Apparently, very little occurred during that period. We already know the mighty Death Star, which was nearly complete at the end of "Sith," wasn't put into use for 20 years. Now, it appears that the Emperor waited just as long to start training Darth Vader in the ways of the Dark Side of the Force.

"Betrayal" is supposed to occur just a few weeks before "A New Hope" begins. And yet Vader is still insecure in his power, fearful of leaving the Emperor's side, hardly the figure to inspire fear throughout the galaxy. This story would have worked much better 15 or more years earlier in the Star Wars continuity.

The story itself revolves around a plot to assassinate the Emperor and Vader. The Emperor's devotion to the Sith religion, some underlings worry, will lead them all into defeat. The plot, obviously borrowed from a similar attempt by some German leaders during Hitler's reign, could have been good, but the book doesn't give itself time to involve the readers in anything more than the barest threads. We never get to know much about these rebellious leaders, who mostly squabble among themselves and assassinate each other rather than take action against their targets. Their plan, such as it is, is flimsy. It's execution, weak.

And Vader better pull himself together and inspire a little fear soon, or the Rebels are going to laugh him right off the Death Star.

by Tom Knapp, Rambles.(n e t) editor
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VINE VOICEon September 17, 2010
This book feels like a 6 or 8 part story compressed into 4. The premise is interesting - months before the first Death Star is completed a group of Imperial officers try to assassinate the Emperor and Vader - but the execution is bland.

The set-up is well done. We meet a mix of experienced officers and ambitious young turks out to end the 'Sith theocracy'. The leader, Grand Moff Trachta, has bred stormtrooper clones loyal only to him, they've planned ahead, taken into account the Emperor's ability to predict the future and have lured Vader away.

But the follow-through is poor. The conspirators turn on one another but it's hard to care since they've had very little development and for the most part I was still thinking of them as 'the fat guy' or 'bald dude'. The half-robotic Grand Moff Trachta is visually interesting but never gets much of a background. The finale is an anti-climax where the conspiritors have no real plan and are easily cut down.

Length seems to be main issue. For a while author Scott Allie makes it work cutting rapidly among characters and packing a lot of plot into a small space. But it ends up hurting the book since there is not enough character development or clever twists to keep the reader engaged. The only character who gets any sort of backstory is Vader with frequent flashbacks to the prequel films. But we know all of this and it adds little to the book and I would have rather seen those pages go to flesh out the plotters who never made it above the level of 'fat guy' or 'young officer'. The art by Ryan Benjamin is fine throughout but nothing special.

I got a cheap copy and found the book enjoyable but there's really nothing special.
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on May 19, 2005
This comic story takes place a few week before the beginning of Ep. IV A New Hope, when a few Imperial officers, including a couple Grand Moffs, plot to assinate both Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine in an attempt to save te Empire from their power hungery drive to control the galaxy. Remind you of anything? Sure does me. This reminds me of the plot to kill Hilter to save the Third Reich from destruction from within.

Anyway, like other reviews have said here, the story is a bit short and conceeded. Dialogue is a bit cheesey if not adolescent. In other words, you can't picture James Earl Jones saying some of Vader's dialogue in this book.

The art is above average I guess. Better than what was in Tales of the Jedi, but not as good as what's in the Clone Wars series. Probably on par with the Crimson Empire series.
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on September 2, 2014
The story moves almost too quickly but is ultimately satisfying.Benjamin's art is fantastic.
Recommended for fans of the original trilogy.
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on December 2, 2005
I found this graphic novel to be a change from standard Empire vs. Rebels. Instead it's Empire vs. Empire, which get's very interesting. Speaking of interesting, Trachta's (Grand Moff Trachta, the leader of the attempted coup) plot to overthrow the Sith was very. An unusaul thing for a Grand Moff to be doing, but anyway. The new characters were excellently done (Trachta, Kadir, Gauer). Very good art by Ryan Benjamin improved the rating to 4 stars. The only minus to Betrayal was the shortness. Could have been a lot longer (and a lot better). A good read.
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on November 15, 2003
I have been singing the praises of dark horse for their run of excellently done Star wars based comics. That is why I was stunned at how poorly done this one was. The story is a mediocre telling rated at 2.5. Pencils are a 3, but coloring is just plain dull. There is not one page that makes you say WOW. I will certainly be more careful in my purchases of comics colored by Curtis Arnold and Dave Stewart in the future as they rate a 2.5 for this rush job. The best part of the comic is the pencil work of Ryan Benjamin, he gets a 4. Hopefully he gets teamed with a better group next time out.
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