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CE Crimson Empire #0
Story: Mike Richardson, Randy Stradley
Pencils: Paul Gulacy
Colors: Dave Stewart
Editor: Diana Schutz
Animation: Alex Currier, Jean-Paul Leonard, Ben Olander


Jax, a former personal guard of the Emperor, seeks to take control of the Empire after the events of 'Empire's End'. However, another former guard has escaped and is out on his own and may ruin Jax's plans.

This is an on-line preview at www.starwars.com.

EnsViews Comic Review
Reviewed 12/20/98

Nearly all #0 comics are prologues for the main series, fleshing out the events that lead up to issue #1. Because #0s are usually distributed in some alternative fashion, the main series is written in such a way that you don't need to have read #0 to understand what's going on.

In this way, this on-line story is a very typical #0 in terms of its writing. We're introduced to a number of characters and some background on some events, but nothing really happens. This isn't a problem, it's the design.

The premise presented in #0 is very exciting to me on a couple of levels. First, the Royal Guard is an unexplored subject thus far. As the elite fighting unit of what's left of the Empire, they would provide a nice change of pace from the politicians and tacticians that have made up the villains after ROTJ. (On the down side, it looks like Jax has political aspirations.)

Even more exciting for me is to see that Dark Horse is continuing its new trend of creating new stories in existing timelines. This is where truly inventive and interesting comic stories can succeed (including a scene with Luke here nicely anchors the story into what we already know). Having Luke/ Han/Leia saving the galaxy over and over can get tiresome. It's a big universe, use it! My special kudos again to DH for this strategy.

Because the story was primarily a long dialog between Jax and Wessel, there wasn't a lot of room for creative illustration. Jax's uniform is an interesting cross between Vader and the Red Guards.

I really liked the retelling of some of Empire's End in the non-Kennedy style. It's not always easy to reinterpret someone else's art... and I liked this. Gulacy doesn't attempt to make his movie characters look exactly like the actors.... and that's totally OK.

On the whole, I'd call the art average.

I didn't know what to expect, so I was somewhat disappointed that there wasn't full-motion animation. Rather, it is done in a moving cut-out-still style. I suspect that this was chosen based on cost and timeliness. Given this limitation, I thought the motion that was used added a nice touch to the read. Clicking on each frame to advance to the next seems to have been a little confusing for some.

The sound didn't really add anything to the story, but I think most readers would have been disappointed with silence.

I have a high-end machine with a high-speed dedicated connection, so I had no problems at all the the speed of the loading and animation. I'm curious how people with slower machines and connections found it.

Based on this free preview, it looks like Crimson Empire could be another successful story exploring new characters in a familiar time frame. If your computer, connection and ISP billing scheme can handle it... I think it's worth checking out while it's still up.

7/10. Recommended.

[NOTE: At the end of issue #1, it was announced that the contents of this issue #0 will be included in the trade paper back. While I think it's great that we'll be able to have #0 on paper... it makes me laugh how the marketing groups can always come up with reasons for you to buy things you already own!]

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"EnsViews" are copyright ? 1997-8 by Paul Ens. They are posted to rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc, emailed to Dark Horse Comics and archived on theForce.net. With the exception of Dark Horse Comics Inc, they may not be reprinted without permission.

Titles, Cover images, Dark Horse Comics, and the Dark Horse logo are trademarks of Dark Horse Comics Inc. and its respective Licensors.

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