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I am the first one to advocate comics as a valid art form and in some cases they elevate themselves to works of literature, the artwork enhancing the story in a way that words simply cannot achieve. “The Fall of the Sith Empire” is neither literature or art and quite frankly a waste of time and effort on my part for bothering to read it, I’m only thankful I didn’t actually pay for it. Salisbury library does stock a large number of graphic novels, a rather pretentious term coined in the 80’s which in no way applies to this dross. Dark Horse comics can usually be trusted to produce fair comics with the likes of Mike Mignolas Hellboy amongst its titles but this is one licence too far. The only real justification to publish this as far as I can see is the fact that it is part of the Star Wars licence. I’m ashamed to admit it but that was one of the reasons I picked this up, the other reason was it has a pretty cover, in fact Duncan Fegredos cover and Kristen Burdas graphic design for the collection are really the only strong points to speak of. The cover has a strange Aztec/Mayan feel to it which is reflected in the introductory pages and the gallery in the last few pages. The story written by Kevin J Anderson should probably have stayed just that, Anderson has published a series of Star Wars novels in the past which were similarly weak but at least they had the scope of a novel with which to work out story arcs instead of relying on artwork to carry the plot. The collection is set long before the events which take place in any of the Star Wars films, which doesn’t excuse the fact most of the characters are wandering around in shiny armour, if a culture has invented space travel then surely the will have dispensed with the need to wear cumbersome armour (am I being picky??). The story is about twins Gav and Jori Daragon (where do they get these names....) and their escape from the Sith empire (the Sith a re the bad guys, think lots and lots of Darth Vader types) after they mistakenly stumble on it forging new hyperspace routes in Starbreaker 12 (Starbreaker, sheesh) exactly how you stumble on an empire is beyond me if it’s small enough to stumble on is it really an empire. Well Jori the female twin escapes in Starbreaker 12 with a tracking device onboard (that old chestnut) which allows the nefarious Naga Sadow, the Sith overlord to track them into the heart of the old republic ruled by Empress Teta. Why couldn’t the Sith stumble on the old republic, it must be pretty easy. As you can imagine war breaks out, it usually does and the plot breaks down into leaping backwards and forwards between the protagonists. The problem is it’s all drawn so badly it’s difficult to tell exactly who is who. Highlights or should I say low lights are the supporting characters Aarrba the hut, a bit like Jabba but green who apparently took in our heroes in their youth, Aarrba’s death scene (sorry for giving the plot away but to be honest I doubt you’d want to read this garbage anyway) is clearly meant to evoke a sense of loss and outrage but it is so clumsily done as to be laughable. Another laughable point is the Jedi master, now Yoda as Jedi masters go was pretty rubbish since he was so small and puny looking but that was the point, that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. That concept has been pushed beyond the pale in this book Master Ooroo is a brain in a jar, scary but since he drifts around in his jar a bit like a dalek, low stairs are likely to stymie any of his attempts to engage in combat. Though this doesn’t appear to dampen his spirits when just before a major battle he is heard to say “Even here in my tank, I will join you in the struggle.” Tough talk for jam jar. I’ve already said that Dario Carrascos artwork is weak but looking at the sketch gallery in the back o f the book I don’t think the blame can be laid entirely on his doorstep, his sketches appear to be relatively accomplished, if you weren’t aware of how comics are put together the story is written and married with the artwork produced by a penciller Mr Carrasco in this case, that is then inked. The pencil lines are overdrawn in ink which is where the fine detail of the artwork is added, then the colourist paints the black and white pictures. So the consistency of a characters appearance depends on the quality of the inker. I think the reason this comic is so inconsistent is that there are three inkers working on it Mark G Hienke, Bill Black and David Jacob Beckett. The colourist is about as subtle as a brick too opting for a primary palate which only serves to make the finished product look like the pulp it is. I understand that some comics are for kids and although it pains me to say it Star Wars was always really made for kids, I just happened to grow up with Star Wars and so I tend to think of it as more adult than it actually is. Even if this dross is written for kids I still wouldn’t recommend it, the only people who might appreciate this are completist Star Wars collectors who don’t care about the quality as long as they have the complete set. I suspect that Dark Horse are aware of this market, well who isn’t, everyone knows at least one Star Wars geek, right. I just think they should be a little ashamed of themselves for releasing such cynical, exploitative, rubbish. I read this book whilst on the train, although I’ve read loads of stuff on the train including real books, graphic novels, kids stuff like “Danny Champion of the world” and “The Little Prince” even the Daily Sport and I’ve never felt the slightest bit embarrassed. When reading this I was acutely aware that I was a fully grown man reading a comic. If it is any interest to you and it shouldn’t be “The Fall of the Sith Empire” is produced by Dark Horse and distributed by Titan books for an outrageously overpriced £11.99. ISBN 1-84023-012-6
Imprisoned by the Sith after discovering the fabled Sith Empire, Gav and Jori Daragon owed their release to the evil Naga Shadow. Now, separated from Gav, Jori heads back to the Republic, unaware of the tracking device attached to her ship.