Review by Jamie McNeil
Compared to its Dark Empire predecessors Empire’ End is a short story. It originally ran as two issues in the 1990s that Dark Horse published as a paperback. That’s long out of print, but it speaks volumes that the series was so in demand it was later included with Dark Empire II on its second printing. Nowadays you’ll find it in Marvel’s Star Wars Legends: The Dark Empire Trilogy.
In Dark Empire I and II an old threat re-emerged to threaten the galaxy, rejuvenating the Empire. The Rebel Alliance has fractured and gone into hiding. Their former allies have capitulated to their enemy, but opportunities to strike back are there for the bold. Luke Skywalker and his rag-tag New Jedi engage in a last ditch effort to neutralise the Empire’s leader. It’s a dangerous gamble that may see the fledgling Order ended before it has begun. Meanwhile Leia, Han and their children go into hiding while the emergent Dark Jedi hunt them. Their baby son is of the Skywalker line, a lineage that holds secrets to immortality. With all to win and all to lose, lives and souls at stake, the Empire’s End is one last roll of the dice as the Force wills.
Writer Tom Veitch doesn’t drag out proceeding. Having set up the story in previous books, it runs to a very smooth finale that’s done and dusted within two chapters, but they repeat vital plot points from Dark Empire II. A new super weapon? Really? Okay, it was a novelty at the time tapping into the zeitgeist of the Cold War, but now the Star Wars franchise alone has flogged that pony to death. Veitch tries to cram in as many series regulars as possible and they all have something to say and while the dialogue isn’t clumsy, there is too much of it. Additionally Cam Kennedy’s absence is clearly felt. Jim Baikie is not as proficient with watercolours as Kennedy. His settings aren’t as grand either, though character features are very expressive. There’s more facial detail too with attempts to resemble the original franchise actors. Unfortunately it hasn’t stood the test of time, the antagonist suffering most. Where Baikie scores points is for having a good eye for colour and starships that still look sharp.
While Empire’s End has dated drastically, the concepts remain intriguing. Yes, it has aged but the pages are rich with Star Wars heritage. It leads into the excellent Crimson Empire and contains ideas developed in other media.