Comics Review: Empire’s End

This weekend we have the conclusion of the Dark Empire Trilogy.

Star Wars: Empire’s End

Published from October to November 1995
Written by Tom Veitch & Mike Beidler
Art by Jim Baikie
Lettering by Lois Buhalis
Covers by Dave Dorman

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Plot Notes

In the conclusion of Dark Empire II, the Emperor had unveiled his new weapon, the Galaxy Gun – a super-weapon that could fire projectiles through hyperspace to anywhere in the galaxy. Republic forces are now on the run – with the book opening with an attack from the Galaxy Gun on the Republic’s main base being thwarted by a defective fuse on the projectile.

However, while victory could very easily be imminent, the Emperor’s own time is numbered – his last generation of clones were less resistant to the ravages of the Dark Side on his body than his original body, and he is aging rapidly. Palpatine travels to the Sith crypt world of Korriban, and from the spirits of the Ancient Sith, he learns that his only hope for survival would be to transfer his consciousness into the body of Anakin Solo, Han and Leia’s infant son.

Meanwhile, Leia and Han have taken Anakin to Onderon, to hide him there. Palpatine, however, is tipped off, and attempts to kidnap the child there, using his now even more decrepit appearance to deceive the guards of the settlement where Anakin is being hid. However, he fails to deceive Brand and Leia. The two manage to slay Palpatine. However, with his last dying effort, the Emperor attempts to transfer his conscousness into young Anakin, only to be thwarted by Brand, who takes Palpatine into himself, trapping him with the Light Side. Brand is mortally wounded, but through the power of the light side he prevents Palptaine’s spirit from escaping again, and the Emperor is finally slain.

While this is going on, a group of New Republic Commandos, led by Wedge, Lando, and Kam Solusar, and joined by R2-D2, raid the Emperor’s Eclipse Star Destroyer (technically the Eclipse II) over Onderon. They almost take control of the ship’s engine room, but are forced out. However, before their withdrawal, R2 sets the ship to perform a hyperspace jump to the Galaxy Gun – which is preparing to fire on Onderon once Palpatine succeeds. The Eclipse II hits the Galaxy Gun side-on, breaking the barrel and causing it to fire prematurely into the Emperor Reborn’s capital of Byss, destroying the planet. The commandos will take a win when they get one, and pile back in the Falcon (which they used for this raid, and return to Onderon in triumph.

Worldbuilding

  • The Empire’s resources are still somewhat strained – hense the defective fuses on some of the Galaxy Gun’s projectiles
  • The Planet Byss is completely destroyed by the Galaxy Gun.

Characterization

  • Emperor Palpatine: I’ll let The Wizard of Oz speak for this one.
  • Brand: Also dead.
  • R2-D2: Proving that they are very much a PC – on cracking into the Eclipse II‘s computer systems, determines that the best way to deal with the Galaxy Gun problem is to throw the Eclipse II at it and see who breaks first.
  • Vima Da-Boda: An Epilogue reveals that in the middle of the celebration following the Yes For Real This Time final defeat of the Emperor, Vima vanished, and is rumored to have returned to Nar Shaddaa

Other Notes

Partway through the writing of Dark Empire II, Tom Veitch had something of a falling out with Lucasfilm, leading to Empire’s End ultimately being truncated to two issues, and Veitch leaving the Star Wars universe entirely. This may be part of the reason why he returned to Dark Horse to write Superman At Earth’s End – the sequel to his Kamandi at Earth’s End series.

Final Thoughts

This ending is obviously rushed. The earlier installments of the Dark Empire Trilogy were about 4 issues long, and there’s clearly a little more story planned here – especially with the full page text epilogue. However, what we get works. It’s not perfect, by any means, but it does what it intends to do. The story is engrossing, and it moves at a very crisp rate.

Similarly, the way the Emperor goes out feels appropriate – the idea that he’s become so dependant on the power of the Dark Side, and it’s consumed him so much that his body just can’t handle it anymore, fits with the idea of the Dark Side very well – hatred and anger are consuming forces, things that need to be fed to be sustained – and to channel the amount of power that Palpatine demonstrates – needs to demonstrate to retain his hold on the Empire, that probably takes a lot of hate.

And again, I don’t mind the Emperor’s obsession with superweapons. Star Wars is, at its core, Flash Gordon with the serial numbers filed off, and with a less camp. It makes sense for the Emperor to be going after an escalating series of super weapons, the same way that his wardrobe (particularly in these last two installments) to basically bought from the Goth Collection of the same tailor that Ming shops at.

The next work I’ll be looking at is the first book in the Callista trilogy – Children of the Jedi.

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