AOH :: DARK_EMP.TXT|
Star Wars: A synopsis of the comics series Dark Empire.
A number of people on the Net have not had the opportunity to read the
Dark Empire comic book series, making some background details
difficult to understand ("wait a minute here...what the hell are
World Devastators?") while reading JEDI SEARCH. Upon the advice of Zia
McVay, I have compiled the following summary, with some of my
thoughts, of the Dark Empire series. Note that this is a comic book
series, not a sixth book, and not the follow-up Zahn novel. The trade
paperback can be ordered directly from Dark horse Comics for $16.95
Because of the purpose of this summary (a background reference for
readers of Jedi Search), the following includes a great many spoilers
for Jedi Search, The Last Command, and, of course, Dark Empire. I hope
I'm able to help...
DARK EMPIRE starts out approximately six months after the Battle of
Bilbringi (detailed in THE LAST COMMAND). The Empire, because of
Thrawn, has regained initiative and pushed the New Republic back to
approximately 2/3 of the systems they once controlled, taking many of
the Core worlds, including Coruscant. However, civil war breaks out
within the Empire, and during the fighting the Rebels use captured
Star Destroyers to conduct hit-and-fade sorties into the battle zones,
causing chaos and leaving clues indicating one of the other factions
were the attackers. During a conflict over Coruscant, however, the
Rebel Star Destroyer Liberator, piloted by Lando Calrissian, Luke
Skywalker, and Wedge Antilles, crash-lands in the ruins of the
Imperial City. As the story begins, Han, Leia, Chewie, and Threepio
are on a rescue mission in the Millenium Falcon.
Han and Leia arrive to find Lando, Wedge, and some Rebel troops
fighting for their lives. Luke is nowhere to be found at first, but
when scavengers attack the Falcon, Luke emerges from the Imperial
palace and forces their retreat. His powers have grown considerably;
he is able to make an AT-AT collapse through the sheer power of the
Force. Luke tells Han and Leia that he is staying on the Imperial
Planet; he found strange clues in the palace, and tells them to leave
without him. Suddenly a huge storm drops out of a hyperspace wormhole
and begins sucking up the rubble. The Falcon escapes, but Luke and
Artoo are sucked away.
When the Falcon returns to Pinnacle Base, their new headquarters, the
heroes learn that the factions are beginning to work together again
and that from the Deep Galactic Core, controlled by the Empire for
decades, monstrous war machines are beginning to emerge: gigantic
World Devastators that float over the surface of a planet, suck up
anything on its surface, and recycle it into new war machines. The
first target of the Devastators is Calamari, Admiral Ackbar's
homeworld, and Lando and Wedge set out in their other captured Star
Destroyer to stop them.
Luke, meanwhile, is taken to a planet called Byss, in the Deep Core. A
world bathed in the Dark Side, Luke is taken to...the Emperor. He has
been cloned, and his life force transported through the Force through
an ancient procedure which has guaranteed him immortality. Luke,
realizing the danger, turns himself over to the Dark Side and joins
the Emperor in an attempt to stop him.
The Rebels arrive at Calamari and immediately begin getting pasted by
the Imperials, losing the captured Destroyer in the process. At
Pinnacle Base, Leia receives a Jedi vision from Luke, who tells her
that what he is doing is for the good of the galaxy. Leia realizes
that he is under the thrall of the Dark Side, however, and convinces
Han that they must rescue him. They head to Nar Shaddaa, a lawless
smuggling world where Han spent his early smuggling years. There they
meet up with Shug Ninx, an outlaw tech Han used to know, and Salla
Zend, an old...*friend* of Han's. They have permission to haul freight
in the Deep Core, and decide to smuggle the Falcon in aboard their
ship, the Starlight Intruder. Before they can continue, however, they
have to deal with Boba Fett, who has survived the Sarlacc and now
wants Solo's head, and an old, decrepit Jedi named Vima-da-Boda, who
gives Leia a lightsaber.
Traveling to Byss, Han, Leia, Threepio, and Chewie are taken before
the Emperor and Luke. Threepio discovers that Luke has been erasing
certain of Artoo's programs. The heroes are imprisoned, and Leia is
taken to the Emperor's quarters to begin her training.
The Falcon is captured by a gigantic hunter-killer droid, but Shug and
Salla manage to rewire the droid and free the heroes except Luke, who
tricks them into leaving without him so that he can confront the
Emperor. We discover that Artoo is carrying within his memory banks
the Master Control Code, which allows Artoo to control the World
Luke confronts the Emperor, recently reborn into a new clone, in a
lightsaber duel and is defeated. At the Calamari battleground, Artoo
forces the Devastators to consume each other, stopping the Empire's
plans, but not before millions of lives have been lost.
At Pinnacle Base, the New Republic is reviewing the Empire's plans for
conquest when a gigantic Star Destroyer, twice as large as the Super
Star Destroyer, comes out of hyperspace there. It is the Emperor's
flagship, and he demands that Leia come on board with the Jedi
Holocron, an ancient Jedi artifact stolen by the Emperor many years
ago, from which the Emperor learned the secret of transferring his
life energy into another host, which she stole from him in their
escape from Byss. Leia comes on board without the Holocron, and breaks
the Dark Side's hold on Luke by telling him that he will train her
children in the Force. Luke and the Emperor engage in combat again,
which the Emperor loses. Furious, the Emperor initiates a Force Storm
in the middle of the rebel fleet, a massive whirlpool in space that
begins destroying the Rebel ships. Luke and Leia are able to combine
their Force abilities and, with the help of Leia's third child,
destined to be a great Jedi, sever Palpatine's control over the storm,
which turns on its creator, consuming the Star Destroyer and the
Emperor while Luke and Leia escape in a shuttle. Back aboard a Rebel
ship, Luke explains that with the help of the Holocron, the Jedi
Knights will rise again.
--Dark Empire has posed a considerable bump in the continuity of the
Star Wars saga, primarily due to the fact that the first two issues
were written two years before Heir to the Empire, resulting in the
fact that HTTE was completely disregarded during that time, and vice
versa. This led to errors such as Han's implication in the first issue
that he had never been to Coruscant (in fact, the planet is not
referred to by that name). Kevin Anderson was already writing the Jedi
Academy trilogy when Dark Empire was released as an 'official'
continuation, resulting in a complete re-write of his work. Thus, we
are left with the not-too-convincing idea that the New Republic was
driven off Coruscant and afterward plowed their way back on and have
since nearly rebuilt. Still, with a little suspension of disbelief we
can overlook this.
--Another factor to consider in the above argument is that Dark Empire
II will be released next year, and that it will fall between Dark
Empire and Jedi Search in the continuity. Also, since Veitch and
Anderson are working together to keep things consistent, it is
reasonable to assume that DE II will set things up for Anderson a
little better than Dark Empire did.
--Dark Empire leaves a lot of loose strings, to be wrapped up in DE II
and the Jedi Academy trilogy, such as the fate of the Emperor's grand
offensive against the galaxy. There is also the great probability that
the Emperor is still alive, Luke destroyed one Clone Lab, but that
doesn't mean there isn't another somewhere. Palpatine even threatened
to transfer himself into Leia's third child, Anakin.
--The art of the series was good, IMO: I think Cam Kennedy has a
better grasp of the SW universe, stylistically, then Al Williamson or
some of the other artists out there. His watercolors added a sense of
atmosphere: dark, brooding, and apocalyptic.
--Tom Veitch's plotline was excellent, but his dialogue needs a little
help. Especially from Leia, you often got lines like "I can feel the
Force guiding my hands in the terrible tasks of war...". Still, it is
infinitely better than some of the cliches uttered in the Marvel
comics and occasionally in the Classic Star Wars series ("It's our
--Boba Fett is brought back, but his only purpose is as comedy relief!
I would like to see a bigger part for him in DE II or Anderson's
--There is a Dark Empire Sourcebook available from West End Games that
addresses some of the problems mentioned above, in terms of the
continuity, and makes the progression from Zahn to DE easier (and is a
nifty book, to boot).
--Anderson's inclusion of Vima-da-Boda was surprising and
interesting. I guess we'll be seeing more of her.
--The issues and the trade paperback also have text pages in the back,
establishing background for the new characters and places. These are
immensely helpful. The trade paperback also includes an introduction
by Kevin Anderson, which explains how DE forced rewrites and
eventually established a spot in the SW universe. It hints at upcoming
projects and is now rather dated.
Ron Ostrander email@example.com
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