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Star Wars: Hidden Empire #1 Review

4 min read

“A Matter of Time”

Creative Staff:
Story: Charles Soule
Art: Steven Cummings, Victor Olazaba
Colors: GUIRU-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

What They Say:
The mysterious syndicate Crimson Dawn and its leader Lady Qi’ra have become the galaxy’s most wanted criminals, as Emperor Palpatine realizes the scope of Qi’ra’s plans against him and moves to destroy her. But Qi’ra still has tricks up her sleeve, and with the help of the Knights Of Ren and her many other allies, she will not go down without a fight!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With this series seemingly designed to bring to a close the Crimson Dawn era of the property that has filled in the gaps of the period between Episode 5 and Episode 6, there’s a lot going on here. Charles Soule is one of my favorite of the Star Wars writers but this is just hard stuff at times to deal with because it’s operating at a compressed rate right out of the gate. It’s stacked with things and dialogue but at the same time doesn’t feel like it accomplishes much. Steven Cummings and Victor Olazaba have done a good bit of Star Wars in the past so a lot of this looks good but there are a lot of areas where it also has a kind of basic look, especially some of the Imperial ships, and that just gives it a lighter and almost rushed look. And with a sizable cast of characters to it, there’s a lot to get in there and it just doesn’t feel as cohesive.

The basic premise here is that Qi’ra has spent years building her Crimson Dawn organization as we’ve seen over many books in order to push back against the Emperor. Her philosophy comes down to not liking someone with absolute power over everything and is attempting to break his control over all of it. To do so, she’s inserted agents across all walks of life and in many structures while also working with key people to understand how to deal with Palpatine and Vader. That has her discovering the Fermata Cage where some serious old-school Sith users have been trapped inside of. Her end goal is to free them and let them take down the Empire and for a new order to figure itself out. It’s a kind of loose plan and she doesn’t have everything in place for it yet as the Archivist is still trying to grasp all of it even with the help of Kho Pharrus and their Ascendent understanding. Naturally, Palpatine catches wind of all of this and has opted to eliminate this struggling competitor to his power.

Particularly as Qi’ra has set a lot of his “middle management” types outside of the Empire directly to fighting with each other for a while now. Naturally, this lads to a big confrontation where Qi’ra, or at least her flagship, has set up shop. It’s a convoluted series of events that unfolds with communication between her and Palpatine along the way as she makes it clear what she’s done and doing. Not that it impresses him because he sees it as stemming from Maul, who isn’t worth thinking about. She does get him to realize that she’s touching some significant power, however, with the chaotic first run of the Fermata Cage, but it’s just to set up what’s to come in the remaining four issues as she’s now public enemy number one and the purges are going to continue in-rank for a lot of parties out there from the Empire down. It’s got a lot pushing things forward but it just doesn’t grab you.

In Summary:
I’m still cautiously optimistic that things can happen here that are interesting but we’re coming to a phase where Marvel seems unsure of what path it’s going to take going forward and the few glimpses don’t feel like they’re grounded enough to work. It’s not a surprise, we’ve got seven years of storytelling that’s already weighing itself down and expectations are changing from some quarters of readers as to what they want to see as we get closer to getting to the end of the original trilogy. Soule has a decent idea here overall but it again just plays so big and without enough of the personal connection for readers to really engage with. It feels big and has been seeded in other series to varying degrees but it’s also tapping into the larger mythologies that are tearing at the seams of the original trilogy and reconciling that just isn’t easy.

Grade:

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics
Release Date: November 16th, 2022
MSRP: $4.99