I still remember when I first found out about the Dark Empire comic series from Dark Horse. I was reading through the Jedi Academy Trilogy by Kevin J. Anderson and it mentioned at times a battle with the reborn Emperor. Now at this point in my life I was absolutely ravenous for anything Star Wars. I went to the book store every other week and scoured the “S” section of science fiction shelves. I was fairly certain that I had read every Star Wars novel available at that point, but I had never read anything about a reborn Emperor. After a bit of research I found out about the comic series and immediately fell in love. Dark Empire and Dark Empire II still rate among my favorite comics, but for some reason I never got around to reading Crimson Empire, their successor, until now.
Crimson Empire tells the story Kir Kanos, one of the last remaining Imperial Royal Guards. The Royal Guards are one of my favorite groups from the Star Wars universe. I find their design to be fantastic, and I love the mystery behind them. Not much is known aside from the fact that they are deadly warriors, fiercely loyal, and would die for the Emperor without a second thought. All of them except for Carnor Jax however, and that is where the story begins. Carnor Jax is the other remaining Royal Guard, along with Kir Kanos. Unlike Kanos though, Jax has not remained true to his Royal Guard training. Jax was actually part of a conspiracy that brought down the Emperor for good, as well as killed the other remaining Royal Guards. Kir Kanos managed to escape this massacre and his since vowed to avenge his Emperor and his fallen brothers. Kir Kanos is a fun character to read, and really adds a lot to the book. He isn’t a good guy and he isn’t a bad guy per se. He just sees himself as a soldier who is doing his duty. It makes for some interesting and entertaining stories.
The Crimson Empire Saga is a great package, and a great way to get these stories. It includes Crimson Empire I, II, and III, as well as two single issue side stories, and the Crimson Empire Handbook. There is quite a lot of material packed into this book. The only real downsides are the fact that the book is a little smaller than the standard comic size, so you don’t get to see the art in its full glory, and it also doesn’t contain all the covers. The covers were done by Dave Dorman, and as you can see from the ones posted here, they are pretty great.
Overall I very much enjoyed Crimson Empire. It didn’t grab me the way that the Dark Empire series did, but I think that has more to do with timing than anything else. It was quire fun to be reading something from back in that earlier time period. It was fun to see things like Leia still being Chief of State, and the Solo children when they were still young. I think it’s definitely worth a look for any Star Wars fan that missed it the first time around.