Empire #1 Betrayal Part 1 (of 4)
Story: Scott Allie
Pencils: Ryan Benjamin
Inks: Curtis Arnold
Lettering: Michelle Madsen
Coloring: Dave Stewart
Cover: Brian Horton
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (11/17/2002)
Set in the weeks just prior to Star Wars: A New Hope, a coalition of Imperial officers led by Grand Moff Trachta feel that Palpatine and Vader, as followers of the Sith religion, are not fit for ruling the Empire. While Darth Vader is away on a mission to Dargulli, in the Kether system, Trachta finalizes his plans. But conflicts may arise internally among the newly converted officers.
A series like this has been awaited by fans for a long time. And with the origin of the Empire revealed in Attack of the Clones, now is the perfect time to explore its inner workings. Also with AotC, writers can take advantage of the whole saga and tie it all in together. This is what Scott Allie does. The story starts out with Vader testing out a squad of new Clone Stormtroopers on Coruscant before transporting them to the new Death Star. Vader also has flashbacks of himself at 9 when he was chosen by Qui-Gon Jinn, and at 20 when he lost his mother on Tatooine.
Now, I mostly know Scott Allie as the editor of the Buffy line of comics. Which is why at first I thought he was an unconventional choice to write a SW series. I wasn't sure how much he knew about the Expanded Universe, let alone the movies themselves. But I was pleasantly surprised. By exploring a previously unknown period, he was able to create several new interesting characters and make them seem to belong there. Moffs, Grand Moffs, admirals, commanders; Allie manages to give them all a unique personality in the space of one issue. And we even have a chance to know more about Vader and the Emperor.
The story also reminds me of the "Darth Vader Strikes" newspaper strip, which was reprinted in Classic Star Wars #2-4. That story was also centered about a group of Imperial officers wanting to destroy Vader. But the similarities end there. If anything, Betrayal will add more depth to "Darth Vader Strikes" by giving Vader previous experience in the matter.
But I don't think the whole series will revolve around that. After all, this is only the first issue. And I've not been this excited about a series for too long.
I've never had the chance to gaze upon Mr. Benjamin's art before, nor Mr. Arnolds' skillful inking. In a character-driven story like this one, it is important to show off the characters' emotions and actions clearly. Some characters just show their intentions in their expressions. They don't know who to trust, but the reader is able to see what's really on their mind.
The backgrounds are breathtaking, enhanced by Dave Stewart's coloring. A perfect example is the skyline and the planet Coruscant seen on page 16.
On the downside, I think Benjamin has some trouble getting the Stormtrooper helmets right. And the likenesses of actors from the movies are not very strong, but he shows them at angles where they are still recognizable.
This is a most promising first storyline in what one hopes to be a great series.
Rating: 9 / 10 Highly Recommended