Last Star Wars comic of the year is the third issue of Crimson Empire III, and GONK reviews it here.

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Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost #3

The plot thickens in the third issue of Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost. Kir Kanos learns who has recruited him and why - a group of hardline Imperials led by Devian, a brutal Imperial assassin, seeking to strike both the New Republic and Pellaeon's Imperial Remnant. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of a failed assassination attempt on Chief of State Leia Organa Solo, her security chief Mirith Sinn gets a message from an old ally with Pellaeon's offer of a truce. Kanos, dismayed by Devian's bloodlust, escapes his host, and flees to warn Sinn, not knowing that his actions fit into Devian's plans. And Han Solo and Luke Skywalker pop up!

After sidelining Kanos for most of the second issue, the former Imperial guardsman gets his main character status back for this issue as he witnesses Devian's methods and tools, and then fights his way out of the hidden base. But while there's action, it is secondary to establishing how the loyal guardsman views himself as different than his host - he is disgusted when Devian kills one of his own best troopers in a sparring match to show how skilled a fighter he is, and is further offended by Devian's plans to kill civilians as part of his plot to overthrow the New Republic.

There's also a lot of dialogue as communication lines are opened up: Leia calls Han, Feena D'Asta (working with Pellaeon), calls Leia via Mirith Sinn, Mirith leads the interrogation of one of the collaborators, and Luke shows up on Coruscant, knowing that Devian is the mastermind behind the attacks. Perhaps a bit too much dialogue, but we see the players get to where they might need to be with the climax about to be sprung. Still, with a middle issue, you need to connect everything to build up to the finale, and so having a dialogue-heavy issue is not surprising. At least, the story moves around, flipping between the New Republic, and Devian's asteroid.

Part of Crimson Empire seems to be written to show the lots of favorite characters - the Big Three show up here (though where's Chewbacca and the droids?), and in prior issues, we've seen Boba Fett, and a long forgotten character, along with the story's main characters, Kir Kanos and Mirith Sinn. We haven't really seen the Big Three in comics that much in the past few years, and certainly not much in this New Republic era since perhaps the X-Wing comics, and there's a lot riding on making the characters look right - artist Paul Gulacy gets Han looking right, and Leia comes out decently, but Luke looks a little too hard. And with this trend of bringing in established characters, who knows who else might show up? Dave Dorman's cover captures Kir Kanos in action well, and actually fits with the action of the issue, as opposed to the more generic cover from #2.

Not quite as awesome and explosive as the first two issues, but this is that middle issue, and the story by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley is just heating up towards a big ending. Keep it coming - the reunion of Mirith Sinn and Kir Kanos just might have some fireworks.

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Tags: Dark Horse , Comics out today , Star Wars , Comics , Reviews