Star Wars 1 (January 2013)

During the first scene, with Luke Skywalker whining, I thought Brian Wood had figured a good way to do Star Wars. It’s a concept book–the comic is just a sequel to the original movie and avoiding the things fans have seen or read since. In other words, it’s the original Marvel Star Wars comic. It’s also lame. Luke’s not the worst characterization though. Wood saves that honor for Princess Leia. It’s impossible to imagine Carrie Fisher saying any of the lines. Han Solo’s weak too, but nowhere near as bad as Leia. The comic might at least move if it … Continue reading Star Wars 1 (January 2013)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 6 (April 1999)

The series ends with some undeniable problems–the Romeo and Juliet aspect is idiotic–but Richardson and Stradley manage to reign in their big conspiracy storyline. They don’t resolve some of their threads, which is both a good and bad decision. It’s good because there’s not enough room for the resolution, but bad because they sort of promised it for the first half of the series. There’s a lot of content to this issue–it’s not just a wrap-up. The wrap-up is saved for the last three pages or so… and it isn’t enough. This issue’s problems with pacing sort of reveal the … Continue reading Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 6 (April 1999)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 5 (March 1999)

It’s a romance now? Seriously? Wow. After a solid first half, Richardson and Stradley are running off the rails. They set up a convoluted set of schemes and subterfuges and are now rapidly resolving them. And what solves them all? Sworn enemies kissing. But the issue has a bunch of great Gulacy sci-fi action so it’s impossible not to enjoy it. There’s spaceship battles, there’s blaster fights, it goes on and on. Even the talking heads stuff is great; Gulacy’s got lots of Star Wars technology around to draw. But the writing has just gone off the deep end. The … Continue reading Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 5 (March 1999)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 4 (February 1999)

I’m not sure it’s possible this issue could have a softer cliffhanger. Soft as it may be, it does signal a change in Council of Blood… it’s finally a sequel to Crimson Empire. Until this issue, Richardson and Stradley have been avoiding what they promised at the finish of the first series. While the previous issues touched on it, they more concentrated on the overall Dark Horse Star Wars universe. This issue brings Sinn (I finally remember her dumb name) and the Imperial Guard together. And it does so on a strange planet with stranger aliens and Gulacy has a … Continue reading Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 4 (February 1999)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 3 (January 1999)

Interesting. The series is now half done and Richardson and Stradley haven’t shown much of their hand yet, as far as future events go. Instead, they’re still raveling the narrative. The reader gets to be a little ahead of the characters, but since there’s still no protagonist, it doesn’t hurt the comic. This issue spends most of its time going over the business practices of the Hutt character. They’re sensational, which makes them engaging, and the writers hint just enough at how everything connects to make it intriguing. There’s also some more business with the Imperials, with the writers identifying … Continue reading Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 3 (January 1999)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 2 (December 1998)

Once again, there’s the item you can tell Gulacy just went gloriously overboard with. This time, it’s one of the squid faced aliens–but as a Hutt dancing girl. Emberlin inks are especially good; there are some great alien worlds panels in the first few pages. Richardson and Stradley are slowly developing the overall story. The dialogue is good, the characters are all good. The issue passes without many hiccups, but it also passes without a real character. Crimson Empire II is apparently a licensed Star Wars comic first and a narrative second. In fact, this issue is still setup for … Continue reading Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 2 (December 1998)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 1 (November 1998)

Once again, Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley are deliberate in their setup. Council of Blood has some fight scenes–well, some violent acts without real bloodshed (just the threat of it)–and some space stuff, but it’s all about the politics. Just from this issue, it’s clear the dialogue’s better than the first series, at least for the politicians. While the comic obviously owes a lot to Star Wars–specifically Jedi–it’s hard not to see some Dune comparisons too. I’m not sure how it reads to regular Dark Horse Star Wars readers, but it’s incomprehensible without reading the first series. Sadly, the Western … Continue reading Star Wars: Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 1 (November 1998)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire 6 (May 1998)

Why couldn’t they have just done it as a Western? It would have been perfect. The final issue of Crimson Empire has the best and worst from the series. The woman–her name is Sinn, which is stupid so I probably forced myself to ignore it–declares to the “holy stars” she’ll hunt down the main guy because it turns out he’s kind of a bad guy. Now, “holy stars” (Star Wars was always a little areligious, wasn’t it?) aside, it’s terrible writing from Stradley and Richardson. Sad the series ends on a bad note writing-wise. Luckily, Gulacy does fine. His art’s … Continue reading Star Wars: Crimson Empire 6 (May 1998)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire 5 (April 1998)

This issue, if I’m adding right, takes place over a couple hours. Maybe the reason Star Wars comics aren’t taken seriously is because in those two hours, not only is a space battle determined, but there’s also time for the woman and her sidekick to fly to an entirely different solar system to save the protagonist. The protagonist doesn’t get any lines this issue, which is too bad, but does fit in with the Crimson Empire is a Western feel. It’s unfortunate Gulacy and Richardson didn’t cultivate that genre and reign in the story. Seriously, the leaps in logic (I … Continue reading Star Wars: Crimson Empire 5 (April 1998)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire 4 (March 1998)

This issue concentrates on the Rebels, specifically the woman. I can’t remember her name though. Stradley and Richardson repeat all the other names so much, she and her lizard-man sidekick are sort of nameless. I’m sure they say it a few times throughout… just didn’t make any impression. There’s a lot of excellent Gulacy composition here. He might not be spending as much time on his art as he did in the eighties, but the panel design is still there. Gulacy’s art gets the issue through. There’s really not much going on, just the woman being tortured and giving information … Continue reading Star Wars: Crimson Empire 4 (March 1998)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire 3 (February 1998)

From the second panel, it’s clear something off with the art. Either Gulacy hurried through faces and let Russell finish or Russell got eager and got rid of all Gulacy’s rounded lines. The former would just be unfortunate… the latter would just piss me off. This issue doesn’t feel like Gulacy until about halfway, which is too long. Even though very little happens–there’s a battle scene, some talking among good guys, a flashback, bad guys talking–it’s probably the best issue of Crimson Empire so far. Richardson and Stradley aren’t being coy about their protagonist anymore and, in fact, reveal him … Continue reading Star Wars: Crimson Empire 3 (February 1998)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire 2 (January 1998)

For some of this issue, the Gulacy sci-fi art makes one forget it’s a Star Wars comic and imagine it’s just a Gulacy (with Doug Moench) comic. Then Richardson and Stradley have some awful dialogue from the big villain and the illusion comes crashing down. It’s like the comic can get away with bad dialogue because Star Wars got away with it. But there’s a lot more of it here, as the bad guys bicker with each other. Still, the story’s compelling enough the dialogue doesn’t matter. Oddly, the good guys’ dialogue is fine. It’s just the insidious declarative statements. … Continue reading Star Wars: Crimson Empire 2 (January 1998)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire 1 (December 1997)

Crimson Empire answers the burning question… what’s with the guys in red from Return of the Jedi. The ones who had fabric capes on the action figures. Of course, it’s mostly just backdrop for the story of a fugitive. It probably could fit a Civil War story too. A stranger comes to town, kicks butt, has to hide with possibly duplicitous newfound friends. Meanwhile there’s a big villain out to get him, along with all the little ones. But the real attraction so far is Paul Gulacy’s art. Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley’s script is fine, it’s just not compelling … Continue reading Star Wars: Crimson Empire 1 (December 1997)

Dark Horse Presents Annual 2000 (June 2000)

It’s the “all female” issue… without a single female creator working on the book. The best is in the Buffy story, when they turn rape prevention into a pun. The Buffy story is the worst–Fassbender and Pascoe’s writing is, tasteless jokes aside, awful. Their dialogue is weak as is their plotting. Richards and Pimentel’s art isn’t awful. Motter writes an indistinct Star Wars. But Owens’s artwork on it is fabulous. The Xena story, from Edginton, Deodato and Nelson, is probably the best. Though Deodato’s photo referencing is annoying and ineffective. Edginton writes funny dialogue and comes up with solid plot … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents Annual 2000 (June 2000)

Dark Horse Presents Annual 1999 (August 1999)

It’s a “theme” annual—characters in their youths. It opens with Wagner, Chin and Wong on Xena. The art’s a little rough, but Wagner’s writing is solid. Mignola’s Hellboy is adorable (as young Hellboy stories tend to be). It’s a cute couple pages. Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo drags. It’s way too didactic. Sakai’s art some okay moments and some not okay ones. Shockingly, the Ghost story is good. Zanier and Mariano’s artwork is excellent and Kennedy’s writing isn’t bad. It’s confusing for a new reader, but quite decent. This issue also has the first Groo I’ve read. Though Aragones’s art sometimes gets … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents Annual 1999 (August 1999)