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Graphic Novel Review: "Star Wars: Crimson Empire" by Mike Richardson

Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

Star Wars: Crimson Empire cover.

Star Wars: Crimson Empire cover.

Quick Info About Crimson Empire

  • Author: Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics, formerly Darkhorse Comics
  • Published: December 2, 1998
  • Page Count: 160
  • Availability: Buy used on Amazon or eBay; buy digitally on Amazon Comixology

Story Summary

Seven years after the end of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), after the Battle of Endor, Imperial Red Guard Kir Kanos is loyal to the Empire. He seeks revenge against the would-be Dark Lord Karnor Jax, who destroyed the remainder of the Emperor’s Guard after the death of Emperor Palpatine’s clones.

He hides out on the planet Phaeda where he meets New Republic Commander Mirith Sinn and joins her because they share a common enemy in Carnor Jax.

A Well Written Story With Engaging New Characters

This story doesn’t feature the main characters of the original Star Wars trilogy as the main protagonists of the story; instead, it shows the impact of Luke Skywalker’s actions in the Dark Empire storyline and the aftermath of that story and how it impacted other people.

Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine are important characters but are relegated to flashback cameo appearances in Kir Kanos’ memories of training to become a Red Guard.

Kir Kanos is an interesting character in the old Star Wars Expanded Universe canon because he’s on the Empire’s side of the conflict between the Imperium and the New Republic that are constantly fighting for control of the galaxy. He’s technically a bad guy, but he doesn’t act like an evil member of the Empire, but the fact that he constantly refuses to join the New Republic’s side makes him an interesting character.

Mirith Sinn is also an interesting character. Her husband was murdered by Imperials when he refused to give them supplies so she decided to fight in the Rebellion and joined the New Republic. She’s also a good character who cares for Kir Kanos and their relationship is interesting.

Carnor Jax is also an interesting villainous character because he’s not a very powerful Dark Side Force user but he’s not nearly as powerful as he thinks he is. He’s a fun villain, and I enjoyed his character.

There are many other new characters, and they’re all very well-written and likable for the most part. It takes a lot to craft an entirely new story with new characters in the Star Wars universe with minimal involvement with the main Star Wars characters and still create a new story and do it well.

Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley do a great job creating well-written, well-rounded characters with motivations and flaws and giving them an interesting storyline that entertains the readers while still giving them everything they love about Star Wars stories.

Can You Buy It New?

I borrowed this from a friend before I went out and bought it, and since it is back in print digitally, it's available to purchase. However, if you can buy a physical copy in good shape used, you’ll really enjoy it. I bought mine a long time ago and still own it, and I’m sure you can find a copy that is in good shape. Finding it new will be expensive because of Star Wars collectors.

Darth Vader scars Kir Kanos' face.

Darth Vader scars Kir Kanos' face.

The Art Is Amazing!

I love the art in this comic. It looks amazing, the fight scenes are excellent, and I like the character designs. The art is unique, and I’ve never seen art in comics that is quite like this.

The art looks fantastic; it’s very detailed, and the art designs are nice to look at. It looks very much like how Star Wars is portrayed in the films, and they have their own unique takes on the Imperial Guard uniforms that look cool too. If you like good art in comics, this is definitely a must-have for anyone who collects comics, especially if you like Star Wars.

It’s Fantastic, but the Story Might Not Please Everyone

If you’re a die-hard Star Wars fan, you might be disappointed that Luke Skywalker and Han Solo only make brief appearances and don’t have any interactions with the characters of this story. The only Original Trilogy character that appears in this story is Wedge Antilles, and if you were hoping to see them in the graphic novel, you will have to read a different graphic novel to see them as the main characters.

Fans Might Not Be Invested in the New Characters

I love this comic. I don’t read a lot of Star Wars comics, but I really enjoyed this one. The story is very well done, and I enjoy the characters and the setting. Despite not featuring the main characters of the Star Wars movies, they’re still important in the story. I liked the characters in this comic, especially Kir Kanos.

Not everyone will like Kir Kanos as a character, and some people will miss not seeing any of the main Star Wars characters playing an important role in this story. But if you give it a chance you might really like it.

The writing is excellent and the artwork is solid, I love the new characters and that Carnor Jax wants to become a Sith Lord even though he’s way out of his league when it comes to the Force.

Kir Kanos and Karnor Jax fighting in The Squall.

Kir Kanos and Karnor Jax fighting in The Squall.

My Grade: A+

Star Wars: Crimson Empire is a stunning graphic novel that is an amazing accomplishment in both storytelling and artwork. It’s such a fun Star Wars graphic novel to read, and I love it a lot. I’m very disappointed that the old Expanded Universe is no longer canon, but it still had some great stories in it, this being one of them.

I loved the new characters, and an interesting look at a seemingly unimportant aspect of the Star Wars universe was fleshed out while providing an entertaining story with a lot of new characters and some cameos from fan favorites from the original movies.

It might not be perfect, and you might not like all the new characters, but I found Star Wars: Crimson Empire to be a lot of fun and an enjoyable comic to read. I do hope Marvel Comics will reprint the series as a physical release because it is an amazing book; unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like they want to do that.

I highly recommend this comic since I love Star Wars, and good comic books in general. The story and art are not to be missed, and this is a must-have book for any fan of comics and Star Wars. I immensely enjoyed this book. It’s one of the best Star Wars stories I’ve ever read. It’s well worth picking up and adding to your collection. If you’re curious about it, see if your local library has it.

My Rating:

Quick Summary

What WorksWhat Doesn't Work

Great story, plot, and world-building

Fans may be disappointed by lack of Original Trilogy characters

Great new original characters with interesting backstories

Fans might not like the new original characters

Fantastic artwork

 

Reader Poll

Comments

Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on April 02, 2019:

It looks amazing.