Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost #1

Story: Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley
Script: Mike Richardson
Art: Paul Gulacy
Colors: Michael Bartolo
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Dave Dorman
Variant Cover Art: Paul Gulacy with Ronda Pattison

The Dave Dorman cover of Empire Lost #1 is like a window into the past. It brings back the memories of old stories with warm places in our hearts. The classic lines, shading, detail, and coloring are like the ghost of Crimson Empire past brought to the present to remind readers of once was and will be again. Yes, reading Crimson Empire III is a lot like memory lane…on the outside.

Inside Crimson Empire III‘s first issue is a taste of something different. The sleek lines of a new ship hovers in the vast black openess of space on the first page. Skilfully shaded faces follow. There is a blur in the line between realism and classic comic art. It’s almost like a refined version of the older style comics, hinting at the past, yet delivering something new and pleasing. Gulacy’s style doesn’t have the vibrancy that Jan Duursema or Brian Ching utilize. Instead it has a subdued feel to it. Unlike Colin Wilson, the shading and detailing isn’t as harshly stylized. Yet there is a jarring quality to some of it, almost like a forced, retro element.

The first few pages of the issue has an interesting Star Trek feel to it that’s worth noting. A well spaced, clean looking command bridge with uniformed officers huddle at their stations while the captain stands in thought. He mentions that their mission is to “investigate unusual activity.” Even the actions of the crew simply monitoring an unknown ship and tracking it feels like a moment from Star Trek.

Captain, you're not Captain Kirk.

However, the final seal of the retro-style of Empire Lost is the coloring. This is most evident when the first explosions happen. The blossoms of fire are not the ultra realistic effects we typically see in Star Wars comics as of late. These balls of flame are simply colored. Two hues, orange and yellow, dominate the color palette. Large volumes of space within the explosions have a very empty feel to them as they are uniformly colored. One more nod to the old days.

Old school special effects.

From outer space to a seedy urban landscape, the artistic style shifts back again. The shading on an alien’s face, the gleam on a blaster pistol, it all looks very modern. The jarring effect continues to play out in the scenery as Kir passes a seemingly highly attractive female. A few panels later, the viewer gets to see the gremlin face lurking beneath those sly bangs. Very quickly an action scene unfolds with a beautiful breaking sequence. Short, choppy panels portray the action in starts and fits. The viewer gets a director’s walkthrough of the scene as moments are highlighted. It does a great job of bringing the action to life.

No old school coloring here.

To top off the intriguing art is a varied cast of cameos. The galaxy’s most notorious bounty hunter? Check. Solo kids? All three. They even join with Leia in a scene that brings some humor. Luke shows up too, though I have a small gripe about his brown colored hair. That aside, Vima-Da-Boda rounds out the cameo list.

Cut cut cut. Boba, you're not in this scene. Can someone please show Mr. Fett the way to the "Boba Fett is Dead stage"? Wait...Boba is doing this before that...nevermind. Let's take it from the top.

Alas just as the issue is heating up and changing gears, things come to a sudden halt. I have no idea where this series will be going, but with the fun little trip Empire Lost #1 started, I’m sure it’s one that will be worth the ride. I would be tempted to give it a five out of five, but there were some small things that didn’t quite set well with me. A few objects looked weird artistically, and sometimes the canon characters looked a little off. Therefore I give Empire Lost #1 four and a half metal bikins out of five.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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