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Promising premise, dismal execution
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.