Saturday, May 14, 2016

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Heir to the Empire

I am unapologetically a Timothy Zahn fan.  His trilogy of Star Wars novels that kick-started the new era of storytelling are innovative and very much a continuation of the Star Wars story.  Zahn's new characters, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Captain Gilad Pellaeon, and Joruus C'baoth compliment the original characters without mimicking them.  For as important as Dark Empire was to Dark Horse's success, the Thrawn Trilogy was important to the success of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  The Star Wars revival could very well have died in these early days if the stories were weak or did not feel like Star Wars stories, but because of the immense talent of the early writers like Zahn, Star Wars proved to be in capable hands and flourished.  The first book in the trilogy was Heir to the Empire published in June 1991.  This was followed by Dark Force Rising in June 1992 and the trilogy concludes with The Last Command in May 1993.

What is terrific about Dark Horse's tenure with the Star Wars license is they did not hesitate to use a good story, regardless of which media it originated.  They started their publishing with an original story in Dark Empire, but they also quickly re-used comic strips in their Classic Star Wars line of comics.  And in October 1995, they began publishing Heir to the Empire, a 6-part mini-series, which adapts the first book in the Thrawn Trilogy.

Star Wars: Heir to the Empire #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (October 1995)
Star Wars: Heir to the Empire #2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (November 1995)
Star Wars: Heir to the Empire #3a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 1995)
Star Wars: Heir to the Empire #4a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (January 1996)
Star Wars: Heir to the Empire #5a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 1996)
Star Wars: Heir to the Empire #6a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 1996)
The interior art is done by French artists, Olivier Vatine and Fred Blanchard.  The art is stylized and the characters tend to be cartoony but it does an adequate job of distinguishing characters and telling the story.  Another French artist, Mathieu Lauffray provides the cover art which are more traditional, although some of the interior art influence seeps through onto the covers for issue #1, 4, and 5.  The covers to issue #2 and 6 look like they are covers to Star Wars novels from the era.

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