Centering on a rogue Imperial Guard on the hunt for his form of justice, Crimson Empire tells the tale of Kir Kanos, a loyal guard of Palpatine even after his Emperor’s death. But when a fellow guardsman, Carnor Jax, betrays their order and takes control of the Empire after Palpatine’s death, Kanos makes it his goal to kill each and every one of the Imperials who betrayed the deceased Emperor – including his former friend, Carnor Jax.
Is Crimson Empire as thrilling as it sounds? Read on to find out!
Crimson Empire gives the Imperial Guardsmen a lot of showtime, something that definitely shines in these comics – I was really entertained by the flashback scenes showing the intense training of Palpatine’s guards. Cameos by Darth Vader and the Emperor himself are also cool, showing up to check on their guards-in-training, which was a nice addition to the story. There are also cameos by other characters, such as Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, as well as heavy references to the Dark Empire series. Of course, if you don’t know the story of DE and Palpatine’s clones (like I don’t, except for the bare details since I haven’t read those comics) then you might be a bit confused by all this. But you can still understand what they’re getting at, which is good enough.
Action is something that’s definitely good in Crimson Empire – the Battle of Yinchorr, when Kir Kanos first shows his Imperial uniform and fights on the battlefield, was epic. That whole battle was the shining point action-wise, and I was entertained the entire time reading it. Kanos and Jaxs’ last duel was also great. There weren’t really any full-fledged space battles except for a small one above Yinchorr, going at the same time as the ground battle – the inclusion of Rouge Squadron in this battle is really cool. Though I was a bit taken aback that they weren’t using X-wings – I thought that’s what they usually used? Doesn’t matter much either way, though.
As far as characters go, the cast of Crimson Empire was thoroughly enjoyable. Mirith Synn was a likable character, Kir Kanos was awesome (a unique character, too) and others such as Sadeet (second in command to Mirith) and Carnor Jax were enjoyable as well. The villains in this book are really bad; people like Carnor Jax and Tem Merkon (especially the latter, though that may just be me) you really do hate. Kanos himself isn’t really the definition of good or bad; yes, he’s the main “hero” of the story, but he isn’t a hero – not really. His goal is to get revenge for Palpatine’s death, due to the fact that even after the former Emperor’s demise, Kanos is still loyal to the evil ruler. So while he does have a “good” streak in him, he’s definitely not good like the other heroes we know and love. This is a refreshing change, and I really liked Kanos’s character; I did have to wonder, though, why he spilled pretty much his entire background to Mirith about halfway through the comic. For such an untrusting person, that seemed a bit out of character for him.
I do have to question Carnor Jax’s place in EU canon, though. He’s supposedly this big, bad villain leading the Empire (and they weren’t even specific about what time period this all took place in, though I could have overlooked that if it was said, I suppose) and he’s not mentioned in almost any EU works other than Crimson Empire. I just find that a bit odd.
All in all, I really enjoyed Crimson Empire and I definitely recommend checking it out; the story was solid and action-packed, the characters were compelling, the art was satisfying and I really hope they use Kir Kanos in some non-Crimson Empire stories. It would be a waste of a good character not to.