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Lit Star Wars: The Crimson Empire Saga

Discussion in 'Literature' started by mbruno, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. mbruno

    mbruno Jedi Knight star 1

    Jan 19, 2010
    I just got this book and I was a little surprised. I would have thought that it would have included The Third Time Pays for All, but for some reason it doesn't.

    EDIT: Nevermind, it is included, it's just the first 8 pages of CEIII, instead of being separate. Which is what confused me.
  2. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Sep 7, 2012
    Given that there’s this thread just sitting here, I figure I’ll use it to share a few disjointed thoughts I have on the CE saga.

    CE1 seems to be widely approved of (at least by a decent number of people) but I think I’m in the definitely minority here in saying that I enjoyed the series overall. Yes, the second and third volumes don’t have the directness and conciseness of the first volume’s plot; Mirith Sinn is basically a Mara clone; the art is pretty bad (although I think it does get minimally better by the time of the third volume); and some of the characterizations of the later volumes feels way off.

    But for those faults, I can’t help but really enjoy the CE trilogy as a whole. I’m not even sure why, myself. And I’m not out to convert anyone. I actually don’t really have a huge goal with this post – I guess it’s just an excuse to post some things about CE I’ve been thinking about, having recently read the full trilogy.

    For the storyline:

    In one way, Crimson Empire is almost unique: I believe it is one of two Dark Horse SW projects that actually have their origins in storylines proposed for the Marvel Star Wars label (the other one being Dark Empire, which is of course linked into CE, as I’ll discuss below). And of course it probably would have tied into the planned Dark Horse invasion comic, given the presence of Nom Anor.

    But what I think is more interesting about the CE story is both that it builds directly off of the ending of DE, and serves as the endpoint of a sort of extended New Republic “trilogy of trilogies”. The Thrawn Trilogy starts off showing the return of the Empire, DE shows the resurrected Empire at its peak, and CE shows its final decline. Obviously, CE flowing from DE is a big part of that, but even DE namedropping Thrawn and CE including Pellaeon I think justifies those three as working well together. (I also think CE is a more satisfying continuation of DE than either Empire’s End or JAT.) Even outside of the “trilogy of trilogies” reading, I think reading CE is a rare case where reading it as a single volume rather than individual publications has highly tangible benefits (specifically, Mirith’s motivations and the Feena clone not coming out of left field in vol. 3).

    Incidentally, I find it interesting that the whole idea which spawned CE (a Royal Guard fighting Luke Skywalker to get revenge for the Emperor’s death) never really happened in the series, unless you want to squint at Luke’s out-of-character aggression in the middle of CE3.

    For continuity:

    I think CE is also notable in how well it meshed with established continuity, for the most part. The first volume includes flashback to events from Empire’s End (something we still don’t see often – directly exploring scenes from other series, that is); references to Marvel’s series (not as prevalent as they are now) via Gen. Wessel and Yinchorr; and Rogue Squadron flying the Lusankya. CE2 has the Spaarti cylinders and Black Sun; and CE3 has Pellaeon and Vima-Da-Boda. (CE3 even moved the date it was set at back to ensure it wouldn’t conflict with the RPG scenario featuring Kanos.) Each volume also has a number of notable EU ship designs, for the fleet junkies (even outside of the Clone Wars era ships that I think were rather extraneous).

    While there are some continuity issues with Crimson Empire, I think it’s notable that, as far as I recall, they come from other authors adapting things from CE, rather than from CE itself. The Jax backstory conflicting with the intent to have the Royal Guards be clones, for example. I also think that, with CE3 finally out, it makes sense to say that the mustachioed Imperial admiral in CE2 is Pellaeon, as it makes more sense to have him appear there and then go on to play a big role in CE3. Even before CE2 I always thought it would have made sense for sourcebook authors to just assume that that was Pellaeon and work that connection in, somehow.

    Finally, I think that CE introduced some interesting retcons. Notably how it recasts the later events from DE2/EE with Jax’s plot, but also how the Ord Cantrell council’s alien membership is a step towards later alien-friendly Imperial policies (and how the council’s failing and its government’s collapse directly sets the stage for the creation of the Imperial Remnant, and why the IR will basically be a military rule rather than nominally civilian-administered).

    And I also think that we haven’t seen the last of the failed peace conference in CE3 – I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s eventually established that the tentative talks begun there lead directly to the quasi-official that begins three years prior to the Black Fleet Crisis (ie, around the time of CE3).

    To end this long rambling discursion: I’m amused that CE3 establishes that “fascism” is an in-universe term. I really want to know the IU backstory to that.
    Valin__Kenobi and RC-1991 like this.
  3. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 7

    Jul 19, 1999
    My copy of CE3 shipped a few days back, not sure when I'll get it though.
  4. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 15, 2006
    Thanks for the thoughts, Steve. I read Crimson Empire for the first time a year ago, and I just read II and III over the past couple of weeks, actually. I was hoping there would be somebody eager to discuss them. :D

    I think my reaction to the series jives pretty well with what you identify as the majority opinion --- #1 was actually quite good, while 2 and 3 had their moments but didn't quite come together. An image from #1 that's stuck with me for the last year is the first time that we see Lord Jax aboard his Star Destroyer. Gulacy's art really helped give the scene an eerie, silent-in-space feel that immediately gave some power and credibility to Jax's villain-ness. I could almost hear the hum of the equipment on the bridge. The rest of the six issues were good, too, and the evolving dynamic between Sinn and Kanos was something I really enjoyed.

    ... Until Crimson Empire II. Sinn's declaration to kill Kanos the next time she saw him had so much potential, but then when they reunited in CEII, she was suddenly the damsel in distress who was so grateful to be rescued by her big hunky hero. There was a useless throwaway line to how she had once vowed to kill him, and the whole thing stunk of character regression. I found Grappa's plot very uninteresting and felt that it took up way too many pages. The intrigue surrounding Nom Anor and the Imperial Ruling Council was the saving grace of the entire series.

    I thought that III was better than II, but parts of it still rubbed me the wrong way. Nom Anor and Vima-da-Boda felt shoehorned in, especially since the latter's warning to Luke amounted to nothing. Luke arrived on Coruscant already knowing the name "Devian," but that failed to affect anything he did from that point on. He still didn't trust Kanos for the entire series. Sinn's vow to kill Kanos in the first issue felt like backtracking on the authors' part to make up for her bad characterization in CEII, but it still amounted to nothing, and I found it very hard to care about her relationship with Kanos from then on.

    With that said, CEIII had some great parts, too. General Solo, Pellaeon, the ruse involving the Feena clone, the Restored Empire --- all in all, the good outweighed the bad. Although the whole "dedicate half of the first issue to Kanos beating up a group of thugs just to remind everyone how tough he is" schtick is a very tired trope at this point.
  5. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Sep 7, 2012
    Glad to have someone else interested in talking the series over!

    I first read CE1 and CE2 years ago. Not when they first came out, but still a decent time ago. When I read CE3 over this past year, I had to wonder if my enjoyment of it (at least compared to others) was of the sense of nostalgia I got from reading it. Yeah, a big chunk dealt with Clone Wars era leftovers for some reason, but other than that it consisted almost directly from Bantam-era characters and books, in the middle of the Bantam era, with all said and done a very Bantam-era plot (even had a failed Solo-offspring Imperial kidnapping plot). So I wondered if I was seeing it through rose-tinted glasses, taking me back into the old days when CE1/2 first came out. And I probably am. But I'm glad to see that someone who only read them recently agrees that CE3 still had at least some merits, especially compared to CE2.

    I agree with all your criticisms about CE2/3, too. Sinn is absolutely all over the place, and I thought Luke was terrible in CE3. Just completely out of character on all fronts. And Nom Anor appearing in the first (second?) issue was a major letdown for me, to the point where I kept waiting for him to show up later in the series to justify his earlier inclusion, and tie in to why Devian was such a big threat for Vima to warn Luke about. But sadly, no doing. Also, CE3 has one of the most baffling visual snafus I've seen in a SW comic, where Kanos's ship changes type in between issues. That was hugely baffling.

    (And in a roundabout way from you mentioning Grappa, I never thought it made sense to retcon Xo as an old Infinite Empire planet, when its ruins were all stated as being specifically pre-Republic humanoid. I mean, yeah, you can say it was built by Rakatan slaves or whatever, but one of my few gripes with the Atlas was that it went the route of assigning all pre-Republic worlds into the Infinite Empire whether it fully made sense or not.)

    Anyway, I also agree that the political intrigue was one of the winning points of CE2. I especially loved those scenes and thought it was a really interesting look at what IU was the last dying grasp attempt to keep the original Empire of Palpatine together. I don't think it's mentioned directly in the comic, but from Darksaber and sourcebooks we know that when Ord Cantrell is taken by the New Republic, that marks the final end of the original Empire and its central government as founded by Palpatine in 19 BBY. It has to have been seen as a fairly momentous occasion IU. I don't know if you've read the CE Handbook, but it provides a lot more details on the military and political backgrounds of the various councilors, the organizations/groups they represent, and their histories. It's really fascinating and is a veritable wealth of information that I honestly am surprised has barely been touched by later sources. If there ever is an Essential Guide to Politics/Governance, a big chunk on the Imperial section will have to tie into that single issue CE Handbook.

    While I'm satisfied with the CE trilogy overall and have no need to read any more stories about Kir Kanos (or Sinn either, for that matter...though I would like some more on the D'Astas and just what role they play in the Empire) I am curious on an academic level what exactly Kanos ended up doing. I know there are those who think he joins the Imperial Knights, but I think the end of CE3 makes pretty clear he's done with politics. I like to imagine him as some law-keeper on an Outer Rim frontier world. Actually...being completely serious, I honestly think he would be a good candidate for Mayor of Sernpidal.
  6. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 15, 2006
    Yeah, it's actually one of the single most important events of the New Republic era. In which case, I'm surprised nobody around here is clamoring for a novelization. :cool:

    I use The Essential Atlas as my go-to source whenever I want to mention in a Wookieepedia article that Carivus's death is the end of the Empire --- it explicitly states that after the capture of Ord Cantrell, the Galactic Empire ceases to exist. Did Darksaber explicitly say that the Empire was dead, or did Stradley and Richardson just kind of extrapolate from the fact that the various Warlord Holdings were all that was left pre-Unification?

    I glanced through it, but you've just convinced me to give the entire thing a read. Merci!
  7. Mika-El-Hakim

    Mika-El-Hakim Jedi Youngling

    Sep 14, 2012
    The greates tragedy is that we still know little abaot those beatifull D'Astan starfighters.

  8. Nobody145

    Nobody145 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Feb 9, 2007
    The New Republic era in general is somewhat woefully empty, especially compared to how ridiculously jam-packed the short few years of the OT and Clone Wars are (Oh, Anakin went to this planet! And that planet! And he had angst! And killed some people while Greivous ran way again!).

    Not sure I'll pick up this omnibus, but one of my favorite moments of the original CE was when the Lusankya showed up. Now that is a huge sign of just how far the New Republic has come. Usually a Super Star Destroyer shows up its time for the Rebels to scatter, but instead now Wedge is commanding from one. But then most eras usually don't bother having the good guys have any advantage, but that's neither here nor there.

    CE1 was quite good, even with an Imperial protagonist, since while he's aiming to kill Luke eventually, at least Luke was an enemy compared to supposedly loyal servants of the Empire who backstabbed Palpatine, which is even worse. And just enough twists to give it a dark edge.

    CE2 was... different. Interesting glimpse of the state of the Empire in that era, after the warlord era, the Galactic Civil War was already settling down. CE3 unfortunately was even weaker. Bad Luke characterization didn't help, although General Solo and plenty of Mon Calamari cruiser pictures alleviated the... mediocrity. I wish we could see more Mon Calamari fleet images, but the only era they're active in, post-RotJ, is mostly inactive. Only Legacy came close with their Scythe cruisers.

    CE3 suffered not only from the long, long gap between 2 and 3, but also... this is just speculation/analysis and I haven't kept up with the years of hint, but it just seemed like they sort of wrote themselves into a corner with Kir Kanos. Yes, he is badass... but his ultimate goal was to avenge Palpatine by killing Luke Skywalker and... that is not going to happen, at least not in this time period and almost definitely not by his hand. Which is probably why in CE2 he was off killing other people and then by CE3 he basically gave up.

    It was still quite nostalgic to read CE3 and see how nice those years were (look! Cute Solo kids before they grew up!), although cameos by Vima and Nom Anor didn't add anything, unfortunately. I'm not interested in more CE, but since Dark Horse usually comes up with the best stories of the EU (although that's partially because the rest of the EU is so lacking in terms of quality), they're probably the only ones with a chance to come out with more stories like this, although CE3 sadly fell short.
    Abadacus likes this.
  9. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Sep 7, 2012
    You know, I thought that Darksaber did say the Empire was dead, but thinking back on it now (and it's been a while) I'm not so sure. But in any case, the fact that the Imperial Remnant is built by forging together a bunch of warlord groups rather than by claiming any direct continuity or building off of Imperial advisors or the old chain of command is pretty telling. I actually have my own fanonical theories about that, even if they are just fanon.

    Hope you like it! It was by far my favorite of the three old Handbook issues, and the one that did the most to actually expand on the setting rather than just recount it. (Although I did like that the DE Handbook was, I believe, the first source to link Neimoidians and Duros, although in a way that didn't really match up with later descriptions of their relationship.)
  10. Duragizer

    Duragizer Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 23, 2009
    I've got two nice things to say about CEIII - references to the PT were practically non-existent, and it was nice to see a Jedi with a lightsaber that wasn't boring old blue or green, however briefly. Beyond that, though, it was a flop. All that build up in the previous entries implying an eventual showdown between Luke and Kanos ignored and swept under the rug to focus on some lame rehashed resurgent Imperial storyline, and the art was woefully inconsistent quality-wise. Overall, it didn't even feel like a Crimson Empire sequel - if felt more like a distantly-related spinoff, if anything. Disappointing, incredibly disappointing.
  11. Blur

    Blur Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 11, 1999
    I just finished re-reading Crimson Empire I & II, for the first time in years. Great series! The art by Paul Gulacy was amazing, and the writing/story was fantastic as well.

    My brief review:

    CE I was superb. At the time it came out, I remember being fascinated by the back-story of the Crimson Royal Guards. I was interested in these characters ever since seeing them as a kid in ROTJ back in '83; they were also some of my favorite action figures from the Kenner line. I liked the idea of the "last" Royal guard on the run & actually being somewhat of a good guy. Even though Kir Kanos was still loyal to the Empire, at the same time he still had a moral code that he lived by - even if this code went against what the "new" Empire stood for at times.

    It was also interesting to see the "new" Empire & how powerful it still was, despite the defeat at Endor in ROTJ.

    Crimson Empire II was an excellent series, and very underrated. I know it gets a lot of flack for not being as good as the first series, but I felt the storyline involving the Hutt Gangster, the Imperial ruling council (who intentionally reminded me of the Ancient Romans), the creepy Zanibar (hired assasins), etc. was quite compelling. If anything, I think the story may have been somewhat "crowded", and would have possibly benefited from being 1-2 more issues. However, my feelings regarding this didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story.

    And, again, the art by PG is sublime - he does a great job of drawing not only humans & aliens, but also the uniforms, vehicles, and other tech. Excellent.

    I'm reading CE III for the first time now, and will report back once I complete this. I will say that I'm loving this series (I'm on the 4th issue) & am glad it did eventually come out (there was a gap of 13 years between CE II & III). Enjoying the story, and the art by Gulacy actually seems superior than in the first two series.
    Dr. Steve Brule and Nom von Anor like this.
  12. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    Nov 28, 2000
    Imperial *Interim Ruling Council, that is. They're a group of regicides with no claim to authority, unlike the Imperial Ruling Council which ran the Empire under Palpatine.

    Missa ab iPhona mea est.
  13. First Of My Name

    First Of My Name Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 28, 2014
  14. Nom von Anor

    Nom von Anor Jedi Knight star 2

    Oct 7, 2012
    Yeah unlike most people I like both Crimson Empire I and II, art and all. Still haven't read CE III.
  15. fett 4

    fett 4 Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 2, 2000
    It's been a (long) while since I read it Crimson Empire, but was it not one of many stories/Characters from that era, that showed a Loyal Imperial proving his loyalty by teaming up with the Rebellion and fighting the Empire ! I mean WTF It was always hard to take stories and characters like that seriously when they started doing that. It was similar with that Zahn comic where Mara teams up with the Rebellion to fulfil the Emperors last command and take down a corrupt Imperial. It happened a lot back then.
  16. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Force Ghost star 9

    Sep 2, 2012
    From Kir Kanos's perspective, he wasn't fighting the concept of Empire - he was fighting "Imperial traitors to the Emperor seeking to seize power".
  17. Blur

    Blur Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 11, 1999
    I just finished reading Crimson Empire III & thought it was excellent! I even liked it slightly better than CE II. I know this is an unpopular opinion here.
    However, the story & art really worked for me - note that there are SPOILERS below, for those who haven't read the whole series yet:

    -The art by Paul Gulacy was amazing in this series, even better than in CE I & II. Either he really improved as an artist in the 13 years between CE II & III and/or he was inking his own work...but, whatever it was, the art here really popped.

    -I normally don't like reading EU comics/books with Leia/Luke/Han since there are so many of them out there & I feel the characters are over-used. However, I didn't mind the characters being incorporated within this story. The focus was still on Kir Kanos.

    -The idea that there are two Imperial Factions fighting amongst themselves makes perfect sense, i.e. an Imperial civil war.

    -I liked the introduction of the evil, corrupt Imperial Devian (with the missing eye) and his inevitable confrontation with Kanos in the last issue.

    -I think Kir Kanos definitely was in character in CE III, based on what we saw in CE I & II. He was one of the few "honorable" Imperials left, and as such had a moral code that he lived by.

    -I liked the plot twist re: the clone of the female Imperial; this clone was introduced in CE II - nice homage to the previous series.
    starfish and Iron_lord like this.
  18. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    Nov 28, 2000
    My favorite part of CEIII was seeing Chief of State Leia in action at the Palace. So Bantam. Loved it.

    As for Devian, he's a monster. And the Remnant isn't much better. Boo them. Boo!

    Missa ab iPhona mea est.
  19. Zorrixor

    Zorrixor Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 8, 2004
    Looking back at it, I guess I enjoyed CE3 more than I probably thought at the time. My first impression wasn't that impressed, but I went in with so many expectations of the stories it could have told-- and admittedly I still wish they had gone with a different story to the one that we got-- but it was probably no worse than CE2 in the end.

    Still, CE1 will always stand out for me as the gem, the same way DE1 does in the DE trilogy.
    Jedi Ben likes this.
  20. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Sep 7, 2012
    Gulacy's art was never good, but I do think there was slight improvement by the time of CEIII. And like Jello, I loved CEIII because it was kind of like reading it directly where CEII left off, like I was reading a remnant of the late 90s Bantam EU that just happened to be discovered. Some real nostalgia from it.
  21. Blur

    Blur Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 11, 1999
    Yes, artwork is definitely subjective - especially comic book artwork/artists. I've been a Paul Gulacy fan ever since I was a kid & read a couple of issues of the '70's/'80's comic Master of Kung Fu, which he drew many issues of. I felt his art was excellent then, and just improved as he got older. Though, again, I'm sure he's not for everyone.

    But, I'm a big comic book fan/collector, and have been for years. However, these days I just collect reprints/collected editions of older comics.

    I'm not even reading/collecting the new SW Marvel comics, since I have so many of the Dark Horse SW comics that I still need to read/re-read.
  22. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Jan 3, 2013
    Crimson Empire always felt like such a 90s comic to me.
  23. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    He just got modern inking and coloring, which makes it look slightly better. The linework is still fundamentally incompetent.
    Gorefiend likes this.