Review by Frank Plowright
The Empire may have been defeated in Return of the Jedi and a New Republic set up, but not everyone accepts that as inevitable, even five years later. Grand Admiral Thrawn leads those still loyal to empire ideals, and as of Dark Force Rising has access to both a fleet and crews to staff them. Some months have passed, and for the first time in the trilogy it becomes apparent that Mike Baron is adapting from Timothy Zahn’s novels and has to make decisions about what needs to be cut to fit the page count of a graphic novel. Important political manoeuvring among the New Republic Council members is dismissed in a line of catch-up dialogue.
Because Baron is attempting to squeeze as much of Zahn’s plots as possible into the story, Edvin Biuković has to combat a lot of words, resulting in a very busy artistic style. He crams a lot of small panels onto a page, and a lot of people into them, often overlaying smaller insets onto more panoramic images. He’s a top notch artist, and that becomes more and more apparent as The Last Command continues, but even so there are cramped pages, and more so than the other portions of the trilogy the combination of Dan Brown and Pamela Rambo produce a distinctively bright colour scheme.
Despite introducing a wide range of new people with varying motives over the course of the previous books, it’s the core Star Wars cast, with Mara Jade replacing Leia, who start the proceedings bringing matters to a close midway through the book. They’re using the Millennium Falcon as well, scoring extra icon points. Leia’s not been sidelined, however. She’s been well presented throughout and that doesn’t change, as she’s needed for a different role in what’s a cracking adventure, a fitting end to a trilogy with so much still uncertain until the final pages, which is as it should be. The plot throws complications into an urgent mission, plays a very clever set of uncertainties for Mara Jade, has us wondering about a possible traitor and has us fear for the safety of our heroes by presenting Thrawn as supremely confident and extremely adaptable. Dark Force Rising was a little low on action, but a lot of pieces needed set in place, and this is a slam-bang finish.
The Last Command is probably best read now in combination with the two previous graphic novels as Star Wars Legends: The Thrawn Trilogy. It highlights some artistic discrepancies, but also how strong the plot is overall.