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Star Wars: Crimson Empire is a comic book series of three story arcs published by Dark Horse Comics and written by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley. The first series, titled Crimson Empire, was launched in December 1997, concluding in May 1998. The followup series, Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood, was released in November of that year, concluding in April 1999. After the end of the second story arc, a third was planned for release in 2001; the one shot comic Hard Currency was released as an introduction to the new storyline. However, the project would ultimately be shelved for a decade, eventually being revived in 2011 as Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost, the conclusion to the series storyline.
Set in the New Republic era immediately following the Dark Empire comic series, Crimson Empire follows the life of Kir Kanos, a former Imperial royal guard whose duty in life was to protect Emperor Palpatine. Following the final death of Palpatine during the Battle of Onderon and the slaughter of the rest of his kin on Yinchorr, Kir Kanos is left with a blood oath against the enemies of the Empire, swearing death to all involved in the death of his former master. The first storyline focused on the conflict between Kanos and Carnor Jax, a former Imperial Royal Guard and aspiring Sith Lord who made a bid for the throne following Palpatine's death, while the followup series chronicled Kanos' time as a bounty hunter and his targeting of members of the Imperial Ruling Council. The third and final series focused on both Kanos' desire to kill Luke Skywalker, the Jedi Master who was the main rival of the former Emperor, and his conflict with Devian, a former Imperial "thug" leading a splinter faction of the Imperial Remnant known as the "Restored Empire".
In addition to the three story arcs and various one off comics, an audio dramatization of the first Crimson Empire was released in 1999.
In 1983, following the release of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, writer Randy Stradley, who was working for the license holder of Star Wars related comics at the time, Marvel Comics, finished his first script. After turning in his script, the editor requested another story pitch. What resulted was a story focusing on four surviving members of the red-robed Imperial Royal Guard, seen fleetingly in the scenes on the Death Star II in Return of the Jedi. The guards would have "stalked" Luke Skywalker following the events of the film. A few weeks after submitting the pitch, Stradley was told that the story had been rejected by LucasFilm, who were uncomfortable with any mythology surrounding the Royal Guards at the time. The concept was put on the backburner for over a decade; in 1989, the Star Wars license was acquired by Dark Horse Comics, publishing the Dark Empire series in 1991, focusing on the constant rebirth of Emperor Palpatine through clone bodies.
In 1997, Stradley had a brainstorming session with editor Ryder Windham and publisher Mike Richardson for potential new projects. It was then that Stradley revived his fourteen year old concept, making some changes to account for new continuity. For example, the concept was moved forward in the timeline to take place after the final death of the Emperor over Onderon rather than immediately after the Battle of Endor, and the four Royal Guard characters were consolidated into one, resulting in the creation of Kir Kanos. At the suggestion of Richardson, the concept became a trilogy, in which Kanos would first target a traitorous fellow guardsmen before working his way up and confronting Luke Skywalker himself. LucasFilm was comfortable with the pitch, greenlighting the Crimson Empire saga.
After the overwhelming success of the first installment of the series, work on Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood began immediately based on an outline from Richardson. The miniseries was launched in November 1998, concluding in April 1999, one month before the premiere of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. Certain plot elements in the second installment, such as the introduction of the seedy Nom Anor, were intended to foreshadow a future cross-media project by Dark Horse Comics and Bantam Spectra; this project, chronicling the invasion of the extragalactic race, the Yuuzhan Vong, would be turned over to Del Rey, who published The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime in 1999.
Crimson Empire IIIEdit
Despite the fact that the one off comic Hard Currency was apparently written as a prelude to the third chapter of the Crimson Empire saga, because of the release of Vector Prime and its follow up novels in the late 90's and early 2000's, plans for a Crimson Empire III were put on hold, due in part to the everchanging continuity for that time period. Randy Stradley himself could not come up with a satisfying conclusion to the saga. Years later, in 2010, Mike Richardson announced his intentions to resurrect the project, with the deluge of New Jedi Order-related material far in the past. Although Stradley was reluctant to return to the series, he agreed to assist in the writing, which was for the most part Richardson's duty, to "steer him through the maze of Star Wars continuity." Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost would ultimately debut in October 2011.
Randy Stradley indicated in the May 2012 edition of "Scarlet Letters", included with the final issue of Crimson Empire III, that "the saga of Kir Kanos ends. Forever. Well, at least until there's a CE IV. But, there are no promises (or even hints) that such a story will ever be told. So don't go waiting for it and pestering me about it for a dozen years. Deal?"
Kir Kanos the main protagonist and anti-hero of the series. A member of the Imperial Royal Guard, Kanos is characterized as being extremely loyal, possibly even obsessive, over the late Emperor, Palpatine. Kanos made his first appearance in the first issue of Crimson Empire, quickly shown as being resourceful and cunning in his efforts to avoid capture by the forces of Carnor Jax. Kanos is based on a rough idea by Randy Stradley dating back to his time with Marvel Comics, in which four Royal Guards seek to avenge Palpatine's death after the Battle of Endor. In the audio adaptation of the series, Kanos was portrayed by voice actor Patrick Coyle.
The love interest of Kir Kanos, Mirith Sinn, a New Republic lieutenant, first appeared in the second issue of the original series. Despite their differences, Kanos and Sinn would eventually begin a romantic, though tumultuous, relationship. Even as a man of his resolve, Kanos goes out of his way several times to keep Sinn out of harm's way. She is portrayed by Nichole Pelerine in the audio adaptation.
Carnor Jax is the main antagonist of the first Crimson Empire, being the first object of Kir Kanos' vengeful obsession. A former graduate of the Imperial Royal Guard Academy alongside Kanos, Jax was essential in the final downfall of the returned clone emperor; by bribing Palpatine's physician, he ensured the rapid decay of Palpatine's stockpile of clone bodies. Now the galactic emperor, Jax uses his resources to track down Kir Kanos, who is a thorn in his plans. Jax and Kanos were originally conceived as being genetic brothers originating from the same prime clone; however, the idea would later be abandoned with the establishment of ideas such as Carnor Jax's father. Jax is portrayed by Robert Downing Davis in the audio adaptation.
Ennix Devian is the main antagonist of Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost. Devian was first mentioned in the first issue of Empire Lost by the ancient Jedi Master Vima-Da-Boda, warning Luke of his imminent attack on galactic society. He first his first appearance in the second issue. A former Imperial assassin under the wing of Emperor Palpatine, Devian wishes to bring back the golden age of the Empire as it was under his former master. Although he shares the same motives and aspirations as Kanos, he is a foil to Kanos' character, showing no honor and willing to sacrifice millions of civilian lives to further his cause. However, his is unaware that he is simply being manipulated by Nom Anor, a sleeper agent for the imminent Yuuzhan Vong invasion of the galaxy attempting to weaken galactic society by prolonging the Galactic Civil War.
Story arc summariesEdit
The forces of the Imperial Remnant, under the rule of Sith Lord and former Imperial Royal Guard Carnor Jax, is on the hunt for a fugitive named Kir Kanos. On the backwater Imperial world of Phaeda, a group of off-duty Imperials get into a drunken bar-fight with a robed figure brandishing a double-bladed vibroblade. The man, Kanos, is given shelter by a man named Merkon, who is a contact of the local New Republic resistance cell. After recounting his tales of training in The Squall on Yinchorr under the Sith Lord Darth Vader, Kanos is introduced to the local New Republic supporting rebels under the command of lieutenant Mirith Sinn. After being betrayed by Merkon, who was playing both sides for self-profit, an Imperial attack on the Rebel base leads Kanos to display his exceptional combat skills.
After the invasion, Kanos divulges his sworn "blood oath" against Carnor Jax, a traitor who accelerated the death of Emperor Palpatine and arranged the murder of the entire Royal Guard unit. Although Sinn displays interest in having a man like Kanos on the side of the rebels, Kanos claims that he works alone, only to further his own oath to kill Jax. Regardless, Sinn helps Kanos off the planet, acting as his decoy and being captured. Under torture, she divulges his current destination as being Yinchorr, the Royal Guard training world. Setting Sinn free, Jax takes his Star Destroyer, the Emperor's Revenge, to Yinchorr, where the crew of the ship falls to a trap laid by Kanos, capturing his starfighter which was actually rigged to blow, taking the Emperor's Revenge with it.
Jax managed to avoid the destruction of his flagship, landing in The Squall on the planet's surface with a squad of stormtroopers. Kanos engages in an intense duel with his former fellow guardsmen, and nearly loses. However, the arrival of Mirith Sinn and her right hand man, Sish Sadeet, prove enough of a distraction for Kanos to regain himself and overpower Jax. Despite the contentions of Sinn and Sadeet, who wish to take Jax alive, Kanos executes the usurper emperor, and kills Sadeet when the Trandoshan attempted to stop him. Kanos bids farewell to Sinn, swearing to kill whatever enemies of Palpatine remain. Sinn herself swears to kill Kanos to avenge the death of Sadeet, her best friend.
Council of BloodEdit
Shortly after the death of Carnor Jax, the Imperial Ruling Council, the interim Imperial governing body in the absence of Palpatine which Carnor Jax led, finds itself in a power struggle, all the while members of the council are assassinated one by one, with the culprit leaving clues that point to Kir Kanos. Feena D'Asta, the daughter of the wealthy baron Ragez D'Asta, suggests a peace treaty with the New Republic. Meanwhile, the criminal organization Black Sun arranges the kidnapping of Feena by the crime lord Grappa the Hutt: they intend to replace her and other members of the Council with clones grown from Spaarti cloning cylinders.
Two years after the events of Council of Blood, Kir Kanos is sought by a man named Ennix Devian, who is a threat to the galaxy large enough for Vima-Da-Boda to warn Jedi Master Luke Skywalker of. Devian, the leader of a splinter faction of the Imperial Remnant known as the Restored Empire, wishes to reform the Empire under the ideals of Palpatine in the same vein as Kanos. To this end, Devian hires bounty hunter Boba Fett to retrieve Kanos, who was operating under his "Kenix Kil" pseudonym in the backwater region of Meenka, and bring him to the Restored Empire homebase of RZ7-6113-23. There, Kanos is acquainted with a massive army and fleet made up of Clone Wars-era hardware, which Devian plans to use to attack the homeworlds of both the Imperial Remnant and the New Republic and create a new order. Meanwhile, political turmoil erupts on various worlds due to the influence of Nom Anor, a man of unknown origin who arranges the theft of a small supply of the volatile and highly explosive material zinethium from a storehouse on Nyara.
Recognizing Devian as a corrupt "thug" and assassin with no moral value, Kanos rejects his political ideals, escaping from the base in a captured shuttle. He travels to Coruscant in an attempt to make amends with Mirith Sinn and warn her of Devian's imminent attack; however, he is unaware that the shuttle has been embedded with the zinethium stolen from Nyara, which is abandoned in orbit by Luke Skywalker just as it detonates. The blame falls on Kanos, who was accompanying Sinn to a possible peace treaty between the Imperial Remnant and the New Republic hosted by the D'Asta family. Soon after the attempted attack on Coruscant, the peace summit is disrupted by a squad of Devian's stormtroopers, and Feena D'Asta is killed in the ensuing firefight. With peace talks halted by what seemed to be a New Republic ambush, Admiral Gilad Pellaeon of the Imperial Remnant quickly launches a retaliatory fleet towards Coruscant; with the Imperial homeworld of Orinda left relatively undefended, Devian mobilizes his fleet to attack.
Amidst this political and military confusion, Kanos and Sinn make an alliance with Feena's father, Ragez, who offers his fleet to ambush Devian's fleet as it enters the Orinda system. They narrowly save Admiral Pellaeon from capture by Devian during the battle, and Kanos challenges Devian to a final duel. Kanos overcomes Devian and kills him, but is critically wounded in the process. He uses this opportunity to fake his death, allowing the New Republic to pardon him "posthumously" of his crimes while he recovered from his wounds in one of Ragez D'Asta's safehouses. D'Asta and his remaining daughter, the clone of Feena created by Black Sun which he adopted, help Kanos begin a new life, one without the Empire.
An audio dramatization of the first miniseries was released on a two disc/cassette set in 1999.
Despite overwhelmingly positive fanmail, Crimson Empire III received mixed to negative reviews from websites such as IGN. The publication criticized the artwork of Paul Gulacy, which they considered "poorly proportioned". They also considered the characterization of Mirith Sinn and her interactions with the Solo family as having "some horrible character chemistry". Ultimately, in their review of the sixth issue, writer Poet Mase claimed, "Presumably, someone in the creative ladder behind Crimson Empire III had a vision, at some point, for an integral and thrilling installment for the series. Empire Lost #6 marks the final nail in the coffin of that vision, as, somewhere between the spark of an idea and the pages being assembled, things went terribly wrong."
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ Star Wars: The Comics Companion
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Crimson Empire: A Recollection (Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 1 Scarlet Letters)
- ↑ Dark Empire
- ↑ The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 6 (Scarlet Letters)
- ↑ Randy Stradley on the Darkhorse.com Boards
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 1
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 3
- ↑ Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 2
- ↑ Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 4
- ↑ Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 5
- ↑ Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 6
- ↑ Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 6 Review- IGN