Star Wars: Crimson Empire III – Empire Lost #4 Written by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley
Pencils by Paul Gulacy
Colors by Michael Bartolo
Cover Art by Dave Dorman Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: February 08, 2012
Cover Price: $3.50
Now past the halfway mark, Star Wars: Crimson Empire III launches its acceleration to the incoming conclusion of the series. The fourth issue of Empire Lost finds Kir Kanos determined to stop the planned attack of Devian, warlord of a splinter element of the Imperial Remnant fixed on bringing both the New Republic and Grand Admiral Pellaeon’s Empire into his own demented grasp.
Empire Lost #4 kicks off in space, with a New Republic naval force under command of General Han Solo. We’re introduced to a subplot involving a character named Ndigo who is tasked with investigating the disappearance of the New Republic ship Endor, seen at the beginning of the first issue. Trailing this, Kir Kanos – surprisingly – ends up landing on Coruscant, surrendering to the authorities, and demanding to see Mirith Sinn to warn her of Devian’s impending attack.
In the meantime, Devian’s new fleet begins in launch, comprised of Imperial vessels we remember from the Original Trilogy, but also interestingly of many Prequel Era ships and fighters. I believe this is the first significant Prequel/Original jumble we’ve seen in Crimson Empire thus far, and the combination is not unwelcome. It certainly fits in with the profile and characterization of Devian thus far, and is quite visually striking, thanks mostly to the exceptional and distinctive artwork of Paul Gulacy.
Gulacy excels in this issue; I have praised his work previously, but his efforts in issue #4, along with the help of colorist Michael Bartolo, definitely surpass that of the previous releases. Both have contributed a specific tone to different settings in this edition that signifies the locations, bears close resemblance to the movie versions, but also has that distinct Gulacy seasoning to it. The artwork for the reunion between Kanos and Sinn is careful, deliberate, and meticulous; as is their conference with the Skywalker twins.
The plot by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley also continues to be strong with this issue, but falters with the characterization of Luke Skywalker in my opinion. By this stage of the New Republic’s history (13 ABY for the continuity fans), Skywalker has determinedly established himself as a renowned Jedi Master and is developing a status akin to that of Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi. His mistrust and doubts of Mirith Sinn seem very out of character, and extremely un-Jedi like. I guess it could be construed that his suspicions are borne out of concern for his sister, yet it does come across as unlike him at this stage of his character development.
His uncertainty and suspicions of Kir Kanos however, are understandable, and actually does pay off during the course of the issue. Kanos on the other almost convinces the reader that he has moved on from his blind devotion to the Emperor. I say “almost,” because I am not convinced. Kanos seems to understand that Palpatine’s Empire is never to return, and does seem to be against those who strive to bring rise to a false impersonation of it (such as it is with Devian’s goals), but the written dialogue does not come by as convincing.
It is possible that this is deliberate on the part of Richardson and Stradley, to leave Kanos’ characterization a little open ended before the conclusion of the series. After all, actions (as they say) speak louder than words, and conceivably Kanos’ skill as a warrior will have us all convinced.
Notwithstanding these very minor grumblings, Issue #4 is a wonderful read – exceptionally difficult to put down, in fact. The writing and the art DEMAND your attention, particularly as the creative team begins to weave all of the story elements together. I’m very much looking forward to the final two issues at this stage of the game.
Dave Dorman‘s cover artwork, as always, is exceptional, with a beautiful depiction of Kanos’ arrival on Coruscant. Though the depiction does not happen literally this way in the context of the story, it most certainly sets the tone wonderfully for this particular issue.
So the fourth issue of Crimson Empire III is most certainly worth the attention of Star Wars fans – mostly those who are enthusiasts of the Expanded Universe. The unlikely characterizations I mentioned do stand out in this reading – but are trivial detractions to an otherwise solid plot with some of the most beautiful artwork to grace the pages of a Star Wars comic book. Crimson Empire III #4 is definitely worth the read, especially as it nicely sets up deep-seated anticipation for the conclusion in the next two issues.