EU Action/Reaction: A Bright Future for Comics

weekly-column-v2Welcome to another edition of the new weekly opinion column, EU Action/Reaction! Each week, I tackle a specific Star Wars EU event that has garnered a significant reaction from Star Wars fans and offer my own view to further the discussion. Once you read the article, feel free to leave a comment or hop on the forums and offer your own point of view! Also, please remember that these are just my personal opinions, not that of EUCantina as a whole.

This week, I’ll be discussing some of the upcoming Star Wars comics that will be released in the next year. Could these new offerings be some of the best material to hit the EU yet?

I think that 2011 is the year I finally get back into Star Wars comics.

I’ll admit, I’ve been out of the game for a long time. Aside from an issue of Invasion that I thumbed through in a bookstore once, I haven’t read any of the comics since Republic wrapped up its Clone Wars issues. It’s been a while. Knights of the Old Republic and Legacy have come and gone, two series that have received critical acclaim from the fans – but also two series that I simply wasn’t all too excited about. I thought Invasion would bring me back to the world of EU comics, due in large part to my adoration of the New Jedi Order books, but I just wasn’t impressed with the story and constant inclusion of novel characters.

Still, I think next year is going to be a fantastic year for both Dark Horse and Star Wars fans. We’re going to be getting an increased focus on miniseries, something that Dark Horse released many of during the 1990s. Dark Horse has been majorly pimping the future of its Star Wars lineup, with at least eight different series. They take place all over the EU timeline too, from The Old Republic era to the Legacy era. What should you be excited about? I’ll give you four reasons to be pumped for 2011.

Crimson Empire III

FINALLY.

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Yes, Crimson Empire is really this cool.

That was the first thought that entered my head when Crimson Empire III was announced. The original miniseries was my first taste of Star Wars comics in the ’90s, and I fell in love with both the artwork and the gruff character Kir Kanos. Crimson Empire was a bloody affair, offering a great view into the twisted world of the Emperor’s Royal Guard. Even though Kir Kanos was an unapologetic follower of Palpatine, his mission was fueled by vengeance. It was a compelling story, and I thought it lived up to its promise. Crimson Empire II was a much more complicated affair, and I think the story suffered from it. It is really remembered for the first appearance of Nom Anor, and that’s about it. I can appreciate the story it tried to tell, but it did fall flat. Even so, I wanted more Kir Kanos. But it was not meant to be, and the character disappeared from the EU for more than 10 years.

So fast forward to now. Crimson Empire III is finally coming next year, with the same dream team that made the first two entries possible. Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley will be writing the story, Paul Glacy is doing the art and Dave Dorman will be back doing the beautiful covers. There’s been no announcement regarding the storyline, so at this point it falls to the fans to speculate. It has been no secret that Kir Kanos would have eventually had a showdown with Luke Skywalker over his role in the death of Emperor Palpatine. That does seem the logical storyline for the series, though I hope it won’t be quite so predictable. Kanos has no chance of killing Luke, and I’d hate to see him die because of his flawed sense of loyalty. The era that this story could take place is also open to speculation. After the appearance of Nom Anor in Crimson Empire II, could the third entry take place during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion?

There’s a lot of questions that we just don’t know the answers to. But that’s what makes the waiting so much fun. At this point, we at least know that Crimson Empire III is coming. After 12 long years, we’ll finally get our hands on the further adventures of everyone’s favorite ex-Imperial Royal Guard. I’d go as far as to call it one of the best announcements in the last decade of the EU. If you’ve been a long-time EU reader, chances are that you’ve been waiting too.

Legacy: War

If you’re reading Star Wars comics right now, you are likely to be still mourning the death of Legacy. After just 50 issues, Dark Horse decided to pull the plug. I haven’t read it, but fans seem to generally love the series. Still, not all hope is lost. Dark Horse is releasing Legacy: War, a six-issue miniseries to wrap the loose ends of the story up. Once again, John Ostrander (writing) and Jan Duursema (art) will be at the helm. In Legacy: War, Darth Krayt has returned from his apparent death. Even though the Imperials, Galactic Alliance, Jedi and even some of the Sith stand against him… he is determined to crush the galaxy.

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Possibly one of the ugliest covers ever?

The miniseries definitely sounds explosive, and there will probably be more action and excitement than we are already expecting. Major deaths are to be expected too, so this won’t be for the faint of heart. Dark Horse is calling this the official end of the series, and it probably will wrap it up nicely.  Still, huge sales could lead to more Legacy miniseries in the future. I imagine this will be a love letter to all the supportive fans over the last few years. Expect Legacy to go out with a huge bang. Whether you’re a huge fan or a newcomer like me, the epic promise that this miniseries holds should be more than convincing enough for us all to follow along.

Blood Ties

When Blood Ties was first announced, I thought it had a cool premise… but ultimately, I wasn’t that excited for it. I’m a huge Boba Fett fan, and the idea of telling a four-part story that spans decades between two characters with blood ties is a really cool idea, but I was skeptical that a good story could be told using that kind of gimmick. I first had an inkling that I was wrong when some of the interior art was posted online. There’s no denying it: Blood Lines is gorgeous. The artwork looks painted rather than drawn, and it makes me frustrated that more comics don’t use this method.

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Blood Ties has some absolutely breathtaking interior artwork. I wish more comics looked like this.

If you’re writing Blood Lines off as a Jango/Boba Fett miniseries, you’re very wrong. Sure, the four issues focus on the father/son Mandalorian duo… but that’s only for this miniseries. It was announced earlier this summer at San Diego Comic Con that Blood Lines would be a series of miniseries, each focusing on characters with blood ties. That means we might get a Anakin Skywalker/Luke Skywalker miniseries, or perhaps a less obvious pairing like Kieran Halcyon/Corran Horn, Morgan Katarn/Kyle Katarn or Mara Jade Skywalker/Ben Skywalker. Get your wish list ready, because Blood Lines has a lot of promise. Sure, each entry will probably appeal to different segments of fans. But at the same time, these different segments will all get some fan service. So… what pairing are you hoping to see?

Knight Errant

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Knight Errant's Kerra Holt.

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The Knight Errant novel.

Of course, Dark Horse hasn’t given up completely on ongoing series. The new Knight Errant, written by John Jackson Miller, is likely to be one of the largest hits of the EU. The series is definitely being pimped hard, with a tie-in novel (also called Knight Errant) being released between the first two arcs of the comic. Knight Errant takes place 1,000 years before The Phantom Menace (and shortly before the Darth Bane novels) in the period of time referred to as the “Dark Age of the Republic.” It follows the young (18 years old, to be exact) Jedi Kerra Holt, in a time when the Sith were numerous and the Republic and Jedi were strained to the breaking point. Expect not only an impressionable Jedi faced with warfare and devastation at every turn, but also a bunch of great Sith characters with different agendas and outlooks.

Somewhat shockingly, Knight Errant also marks the first time that we’ve seen Dark Horse and Del Rey really work together on a product. It marks a new stage of their relationship, which can only be a benefit to the fans. Ever since the New Jedi Order series took over the idea of a galactic invasion from the Yuuzhan Vong, it has seemed like the two companies have been trying to avoid interacting with each other. Even with the Legacy series, fans found themselves wondering if the two companies were working together or going out of their way to complicate the timeline and story for the other. The first sign that this relationship was healing was with Dark Horse’s Invasion series – finally giving the Yuuzhan Vong invasion the beautiful artwork it has been owed since the inception of the series. But now, Knight Errant marks another step in the right direction. Fans can read the comics, and then continue the adventures of the characters in the novel. The novel readers, on the other hand, can get an introduction to new and memorable characters and then have the option of continuing to follow these characters through the comics. It’s a brilliant form of marketing, and it’s a little shocking that it took this long for an idea like this to be conceived. But better late than never.

I only have one complaint about the series, and its a nitpick. As far as I’m concerned, complaints that are really nitpicks bodes well. But it really bugs me that the Knight Errant text on the novel and comic do not match! You would think that there would be a bit more coordination for something as simple as the title text.

Are you pumped for the 2011 comic season yet? You should be, because we’ve got a lot of great content to look forward to. There’s something for everyone, and that’s really what matters most. If you’re like me, it might be time to stash some money in preparation for 2011. It’s going to be an exciting year.

- Chris

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About the Author

Chris Carey contributes to EUCantina as a writer and editor. He pens our popular column, EU Action/Reaction, and also contributes to our novel and comic reviews. Chris joined EUCantina in 2010 to help edit articles, but it quickly became obvious that his writing skills needed a more visible platform. He currently resides in Maryland, and has a degree in journalism.