BTW, I’m curious to hear what people here, in relation to my own and Pakka’s essay, feel about the Dark Empire comics? Especially the first of the three series.
I ask because of how much of an anomaly it is compared to the later EU comics and novels, and because of how it’s often referred to as the last of the early EU days before everything was set in stone and they could go more wild with their storytelling. Now it obviously acknowledges canon in that it brings Palpatine back from the dead, and even Boba Fett returs, but it was and is still quite controversial for how loose it played with the established lore. And that’s why I personally kind of love it. It feels pulpy and kinda silly, while still being very dark and gritty. It acknowledges the personal journeys of the characters, but it visually feels like it belongs to an entirely different universe and it brings in all of these crazy things from out of nowhere. Palpatine’s return, to me at least, feels like something you’d see in some old movie serial or read in an old comic where the bad guy is inexplicably returned through some flimsy excuse simply for the sake of having him return. The later EU spent a lot of time trying to explain how the whole Palpatine clone thing actually worked, especially after the Prequels, but I feel like it treated the concept of cloning in an appropriately surreal and pulpy fashion. It feels almost like something out of ancient mythology where he is simply reborn in a new body and he even tries to possess Leia’s child at some point. The scale of this series is also off the charts, with giant probe droids towering over cities and superweapons galore. It has a very French-Belgian comic feel to it, with style and narrative being more important than logic or world-building, which I feel is very OT-like. And if I remember correctly Lucas was inspired by Valérian and Laureline and other French-Belgian comic series.
Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy made a comic a few years prior to Dark Empire called The Light and Darkness War which I think is a masterful example of surreal fantasy storytelling, which apparently Lucas was really impressed by (hence why they got the job). This comic is a fantastic example of how to do symbolic stories that only creates the illusion of world-building. And it is in many ways very similar to Dark Empire in it’s overall feel.
I can’t help but feel that the little “opening crawl” that was added to Dark Empire issue #1 explaining how it takes place shortly after the Thrawn trilogy kind of did it disservice. I like the idea of a SW story that continues the overall narrative of Luke, Leia and Han’s personal journeys, but which only tangentially related to the OT movies in that they take place at some unspecified point after ROTJ.
At least that’s my interpretation. What do you guys think? Do you agree that Dark Empire was one of the last fully surreal SW stories before the West End Games sourcebook model of thinking took over as the foundation for the lore going forward?