To undertake the creation of a detailed back story of a wonderfully deep
Imperial character isn't just a task for George Lucas' prequel films... it's
also the challenge for Michael Stackpole. It's a good thing he had twice as
many pages to do it.
Baron Fel shines beside Mara Jade and Thrawn as one of the best non-movie SW
characters created. On the whole, this back story is worthy of the strong
character. The events, ideals, tactics, motivation and twists of fate make a
very believable history for this man of honor... and it's an entertaining read
Where the writing breaks down is not with the story, but with the overuse of
cameos. (I sometimes wonder if these are writing or marketing decisions.)
There is unquestionably a place for film character appearances in any SW
comic.. they can serve not only to tie new characters and scenarios more
strongly to the known SW universe, but they can also generate greater interest
in supporting cast stories.
Unfortunately, this issue crosses the line from positive impact to "fanboy"
indulgence. Clearly, the Wedge connection is important to the story line... so
it is allowed even if it seems like quite a coincidence. The scene with Thrawn
was very inspired, IMO. Fel's training of some of the Rogue was established
before, so I guess that's acceptable. So, what's the problem? It's the
cumulative effect that cheapens the effectiveness. The additional cameos by
Tarkin, Solo, Xizor and the Emperor didn't help the story and should have been
left out. I don't want a great character like Fel to become the Forrest Gump
of the SW universe.
The first thing I noticed was how great the inside cover looked in color. I'd
like to see this continue. The second thing I noticed was the glossier paper
stock which adds a lot to the book. I'm willing to pay extra for this on
special issues like this one.
Crespo's strength clearly lies in drawing the characters. The poses are all
very dramatic and natural. (When my long hair comes off, I'll have the same
look as Fel.) There are many great panels... especially good is the aging of
Fel though the book. Technology, on the other hand is NOT good.... from
Vader's costume to the many TIEs, everything just seemed to be off.
Nestelle's colors were on par with his usual excellent work... which is
showcased nicely on the quality paper. Giving each varied scene its own unique
color scheme helps to carry the story. I liked dusk on Corellia, the plush
honeymoon and the red glow in the briefing room.
Don't let possible cameo overuse deter you from reading this well drawn and
brilliantly written issue. It's worth it.