Star Wars: Heir To The Empire #1 – Reviews Of Old Comics
Hey! It’s Star Wars month! With a new prequel coming out, I thought it would be nice to look back at exactly why we had a demand to continue the Star Wars saga. Sure, it was always there, bubbling under the surface. It wasn’t until there was a demonstrated demand for new stories that the real effort began at producing an expanded universe to the Star Wars galaxy.
Writer: Mike Baron
Artists: Olivier Vatine & Fred Blanchard
Letterer: Ellie DeVille
Colorist: Isabelle Rabarot
Cover Artist: Mathieu Lauffray
Five Years after the events of Return Of The Jedi, what was once the rebellion is forming a new government. Han Solo and Princess Leia are expecting twins. Unknown to them, the last of the Empire’s warlords has pulled together the remnants of the Imperial Fleet to strike at the heart of the fledgling New Republic.
Captain Palleon commands an Imperial Star Destroyer that has a scouting party of TIE Fighters returning. He goes to inform Grand Admiral Thrawn of the return. Duarded by a fearsome alien, Thrawn sits in his quarters studying holographic reproductions of the art of various civilizations. Thrawn anticipates that the scouting party was followed by a New Republic fleet. He commands the Star Destroyer and its fighters to successfully execute a specific maneuver against the attackers. He explains that his analysis of the art of Elomin gave him insight in the thought process of the Elomin Captain.
On Coruscant, Luke Skywalker is thinking about Ben Kenobi when C3PO checks on him. Princess Leia sensed his mood using her new Jedi skills. Elsewhere, Han Solo is trying to recruit smugglers into working for the New Republic, without much success, but learning that Talon Karrde is most likely running the bulk of the smuggling.
Talon Karrde is prepping an assistant named Mara (yes, Mara Jade) to be his second in command with Grand Admiral Thrawn’s Star Destroyer arrives in orbit. He contacts Captain Palleon and accurately guesses that the Imperials are there for the native Ysalamari. Mara is distrustful, but Karrde notices a hatred for Luke Skywalker in their discussion.
Thrawn’s next stop is on a remote planet with a fortress named Mt. Tantis. Demonstrating force, he is confronted by Jorus C’Baoth, a lost Jedi Master. The Ysalamari protect Thrawn and Captian Palleon from his attacks. The Ysalamari have an innate ability to push back and nullify the Force. C’Baoth is also intrigued by Thrawn’s use of one of the Noghri, the Emperor’s private Death Commandos. Thrawn finally gets an alliance with C’Baoth by promising him Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and her expected twins for use as apprentices.
On Coruscant, there is friction on the Republic Council. Leia and Luke have been requested to travel to Bimmisari for diplomatic talks. Upon arriving , Chewbacca is wary of going with them and stays behind. Han is prevented from carrying weapons, but Luke’s lightsaber is not restricted. Luke is almost immediately separated from Han and Leia. for a tour of upper towers. Han and Leia are surrounded by Noghri. Han asks Leia to contact Luke and she informs him that he can’t help them as he, too has been attacked.
First, we need to talk about the importance of this story. While the comic was published in 1995, the novel came out in 1991. It was the first “Expanded Universe” novel of the modern era, after five years without any new Star Wars content, which was the Marvel Comics series. The last novel was published in 1983. Timothy Zahn managed to create a new villain in Grand Admiral Thrawn that did not re-hash Darth Vader, and instead owed more to Grand Moff Tarkin. The structure of the novels owed a lot to the original trilogy, with Zahn completely replicating the feel of three separate films, albeit with none of them standing alone the way that the original film did.
The comic adaptation fails to convey as much information for the sake of presenting the novel’s story in a six-issue series. Mike Baron still does an admirable job of scripting an intriguing comic and capturing the feel of the novel. There are even moments where it feels like a dang fine science-fiction comic. Part of this credit also goes to Vatine and Blanchard, whose artwork give a distinct feel to the story that makes it real. The best part for me is how believable the aliens are, designed specifically for the series, without thought for how they could ever be adapted for screen. At this time, the most realistic aliens we had still resembled men in costumes.
Having read the novels, albeit not recently, I am pleased with this adaptation of it. It serves its purpose and does a good job at what it’s intended to do. It’s hard to capture the same feeling that the novels had, given that years separate them, in which time, the Extended Universe had blossomed into its own beast.
This issue has been collected, first by Dark Horse and a used edition will cost just a few dollars, but a brand new copy has become more collectible. Marvel, who now own the rights to all Star Wars comics, has collected all three series in The Thrawn Trilogy. As mentioned in my review, you can easily find the original novel.
FINAL RATING: 8.0 (out of a possible 10) A good adaptation and definitely worthy of addition to any Star Wars collection. I recommend reading the novel first, though.