It’s easy to feel sour about the Star Wars Legends, since what was once canon is now just made-up tales with no significance in continuity. But that doesn’t mean the classic Dark Horse tales, now being republished by Marvel Comics, aren’t valid and entertaining. Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Empire Vol. 6 is the latest republished collection and in many ways, it’s a great example of how these stories contain many great ideas Disney should keep tabs on. I wasn’t sure what I’d find in this latest collection — it contains multiple story arcs and even a few one-shot tales, but what is here is a good collection with some great, inventive ideas. Here are the top three reasons why this book houses some inventive ideas.
#1: It’s James Bond meets Star Wars
This book opens with two story arcs in the Star Wars: Agent of the Empire series, which I had no idea existed and can’t understand why. The first arc, “Iron Eclipse” published in 2011, is a good introduction to secret agent Jahan Cross, who serves Alderaan. Along with his droid Inga (or IN-GA 44), Cross is basically a James Bond type of character who tackles unique problems that need detective skills and a smash-and-grab method of heroics. It also features alien babes to shmooze and gadgetry. Cross even has a Q type character who shows off gadgets complete with malfunctions in the demonstrations. The first story arc by John Ostrander and Stephane Roux is quite good, integrating chases, action, and over the top villains to attempt to thwart. This arc also fully utilizes Han Solo and Chewbacca in a smart way.
The second arc, “Hard Targets” published in 2012, has Cross face off against Boba Fett, requires sneaking around as an Empire officer, and ties in with lots of familiar Star Wars locations. I dare you to read this series, which takes up about half this collection, and not want a super-spy Star Wars comic.
#2: Good single issue stories
Layered in between Jahan Cross and the Force Unleashed stories are three one-shot tales, each of which brings classic Star Wars tales to life in lost adventures. These three stories were published in 1996, 2002, and 2003, giving a wider look at Star Wars comics at the time.
The first involves Salacious B. Crumb in a Jabba the Hutt story involving Han Solo. It’s cooky, fun, and is worth a laugh. Following this is a tale featuring Princess Leia and the time she met the Emperor. She’s young and nearly at an age where she’ll be involved in planetary politics. This is of course before Alderaan was destroyed, and it allows the creators to show us Leia had a strong-willed personality before she ever lost her planet.
Following this is another Leia story called “The Princess Leia Diaries” with Leia in her teen years. It’s another look at her spunk, her desire to have some fun, and how she’ll push back if given the chance. This era of Star Wars is intriguing since so much of who Leia is in the movies are tied to her planet being destroyed. It’s a way to reveal the true nature of Leia before she was forced to become a Rebel and fight for justice.
#3: Expanding on the Force Unleashed universe
Taking up the rest of the book is the full run of Force Unleashed comics, both the first series and the sequel. Originally published in 2008 and 2010, these are your typical tie-in comics to a video game, and they do their best to fill in gaps, show us interactions with characters we may want more of (read: Darth Vader and Boba Fett), and give us more of that dark Sith hero tale we loved. The original series is drawn by Brian Ching, Bong Dazo, Wayne Nichols, with the sequel drawn by Omar Francia with Manuel Silva, and both are visually stunning. There’s an effort to make the art look realistic with clean use of color to make it look like a step up from the conventional Star Wars comics. Much like the games, this series is a nice reminder you can take a faithful element like Sith and twist them into new kinds of heroes.
To be brutally honest, many Star Wars Legends comics are totally not worth reading. Either because the new movies rendered them pointless, or because Dark Horse was pumping out many comics of lesser quality at the time, but I can say with certainty there’s a lot here to enjoy. Putting this book down, it’s quite clear Disney shouldn’t forget these stories exist but instead pay attention to them so that they may grow the universe in new and intriguing ways.