Story: Charles Soule
Art: Steven Cummings, Victor Olazaba, Wayne Faucher
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
What They Say:
The epic conclusion to the trilogy begun with WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS and CRIMSON REIGN! At last, Qi’ra will reveal herself to the Sith. At last, she will have her revenge.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With a lot of chaotic action behind it, the finale brings things to a close and leads into the finale of Return of the Jedi. The book had some tough stuff to do early on and just felt a bit too big at times, especially since the wraparound to this takes place in the New Republic era. Charles Soule is one of my favorite 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 accomplished much. Steven Cummings along with Victor Olazaba and Wayne Faucher 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.
With Palpatine and Vader having boarded the station to deal with the Fermate Caga itself but there are obviously obstacles along the way. It’s amusing watching Palpatine kind of shame Vader over the way he’s not being as serious as he should while Palpatine himself enjoys getting hands-on for once. The interesting shift is that we get to see Aphra showing up to confront them as well as The Spark and that leads to a surprisingly quickly end to that storyline – for now. The Spark is able to push back a little at first but Vader shows that he really does outclass her in every way, going so far as to push the Spark out of Aphra entirely and causing her to flee as quickly as she can. Vader has bigger fish to fry at this point so she’s lucky in that regard. All it serves is wrapping up one annoying storyline and then getting Vader and Palpatine back together to deal with the Cage itself.
It’s interesting to see how the plan that Qi’ra put into play actually works and once initiated we get the two trapped in the cage as it was a trap all along. Rather than releasing something, it catches them and the hope of tossing the cage into the sun and destroying them. Of course, it’s not going to work out that way since the Knights of Ren get involved to try and save themselves from the wrath of the Sith and we see how Qi’ra’s plan falls apart and so many of her forces in the moment are destroyed. It’s the kind of ending, where we’re seeing it in retrospect with the bookend setup of Luke and Leia learning about it, that shows how Qi’ra reached far but fell short – yet was important in setting the end of the Sith. It’s a busy but not chaotic finale, one that feels more like it’s ticking the boxes to get things into place so it can move forward into the remainder of this time period.
Hidden Empire is something that had interesting ideas within it but suffered from not having enough time to really feel like it was embedded in things. The whole idea of a Hydra-like organization within the Empire – and Rebellion – scratches a particular itch and utilizing Qi’ra adds something special to it. But I can definitely see this entire concept being ejected in the long run in favor of something else because it’s just a bit too convoluted and it had to deal with other plotlines like the just plain dumb thing with The Spark. It’s not horrible but it feels rushed and without the depth needed to pull it off. It’s certainly more basic space opera than anything else, which isn’t what something like this needed to be.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 5th, 2023