Monday, May 18, 2015

Star Wars: Legacy (hardcover) volume 3 review

    The third volume in the Star Wars: Legacy omnibuses is is the end of all the major plots from the beginning of the series. The original series managed to get up to fifty-issues before being abruptly cancelled but Dark Horse comics was kind enough to allow the creators to have an extra six-issue miniseries, entitled Star Wars: Legacy: War, in order to wrap up its outstanding plot threads. The fact they would eventually revive the series afterward before losing their license to Marvel comics makes this decision quite curious but that is neither here nor there. Volume 3 includes all of the remaining issues up to and including War which gives it a complete, if rushed, epic finale.

    In retrospect, it was clear they were laying the groundwork for the grand finale of the series from the very beginning. While Cade Skywalker remains as obstinate as ever, the alliance between the Empire/Jedi/Galactic Alliance is coming together in the background while the Sith have a new leader in Darth Wyrrlok. I'm a big fan of Darth Wyrrlok because he's a much more intelligent-seeming antagonist than Darth Krayt. The fact he has the ambition to convert the entire galaxy to the Sith way is both brilliant as well as insane. While it's no spoiler that Darth Krayt eventually returns for War, due to being on the cover and all, it's kind of a shame because Wyrrlok outshines him in virtually all respects.

    Much of the volume before the War portion of the book deals with the aftermath of Dac's poisoning by a Sith mad scientist named Vul Isen. The Mon Calamari have been a mainstay of the Star Wars Expanded Universe since Return of the Jedi so watching them forced to flee their homes is a heartbreaking development. Cade decides to split the difference between actually doing something with his life and pursuing the very high bounty on Vul Isen's head. I suppose if you're going to continue being a complete waste of space, then the best thing to do is do that while hunting Space Nazi war criminals.

The art is, as always, masterful.
    Darth Maladi intervenes during this period and we get some insight into her character as she tries to hunt down Cade Skywalker for her (new) master. On the Imperial side of things, Marasiah Fel is threatened (again) and it falls to Ganner to find out whether his loyalty is to her or his master. I could have done without that bit of story recycling since I was hoping Marasiah Fel would prove more competent than she's proven to be. She's less Leia and more Padme in this series.

    Really, though, most of these plot developments are just counting down for the grand finale. Darth Krayt's return, his revelation of a new group of Sith entirely loyal to him, and his genocidal plans for the galaxy. With the destruction of everything threatened by the One Sith, can everyone put aside their differences to defeat the Dark Lord? Can Cade Skywalker prove himself great enough to save the universe?

    Of course. This is Star Wars, not Warhammer 40K.

     I can't say I'm very pleased with Darth Krayt's transformation from a well-intentioned extremist who believed he was reformer the Sith to be less prone to infighting into a literal omnicidal maniac. He was always a genocidal monster but I was hoping he might keep some depths until the end of his journey. Likewise, neither Darth Nihl or Darth Talon ever get much character development. We also see a reverse of Darth Vader's rise from grace with the increasing instability and insanity of Roan Fel. His fall to the Dark Side had been telegraphed from the very beginning but was still disappointing in the end.

    The Jedi's role in the conflict was also minimized, keeping the focus squarely on Cade Skywalker's ability to defeat the Dark Lord. When I first heard about the Sith's return, I was hoping that we would get regular battles between the Jedi and their counterparts ala The Old Republic. Instead, they have ever remained the perpetual victims in this volume with the exception of Wolf and Shado. This was disappointing but not entirely unexpected. I have the feeling they wanted to tell a story about the Jedi Knighthood near-extinction but were forced by fan reaction or simply the sheer number of Sith to back down.

    One thing I appreciate in the story is its focus on redemption: both Nyna Calixte's and Cade Skywalker's. Both individuals have been hovering on the Dark Side for some time and it's a good thing to see them realize that's not where they wanted to be. I would have preferred seeing a truly evil character come back from the brink but that's just quibbling over details. The finale of the series gives everyone a chance to shine and there's plenty of other good stories spread throughout the volume.

     The art is, as always, very beautiful. It manages to capture the newly-healed Darth Krayt in a way which is both menacing and understated. I also like the fabulous renderings of characters whether they're in space, in jungles, on spaceships, or in cities. Dialogue is crisp and well-written with none of the franchise's usual clunkers.

Darth Krayt's new visual design is stunning.
    So what did I think of Legacy in the end? Mostly, I think it was a successful experiment. We got to tell a slightly darker, more-adult version of the franchise's story. Not everything was successful as the repetition of the Jedi Purge, Cade Skywalker's unearned status as the hero, and the sidelining of Marasiah Fel hurt the narrative.

    A story about a drug-addicted Skywalker who comes to terms with his unwanted destiny to become a better man seems like it would make a better novel than a comic. Also, it would have been better appreciated if the entire galaxy wasn't at stake. Given it's shown that Cade could have killed Darth Krayt at any given time, it's kind of underwhelming when he finally has his fatal confrontation with the man. As a certain President once said, "the only thing to fear is fear itself." Never was that more true with a Sith Lord who regularly got his butt handed to him by Cade.

    Ultimately, Volume 3 is a satisfying, if not spectacular, ending to the Legacy saga. I would have preferred if they hadn't gone with the very obvious direction they had with Cade Skywalker's journey or sped it up, either way, but it's still an appropriate ending. I also give props to Dark Horse comics for coming up with a fifty-six issue epic. It wasn't always hits but it was rarely misses and what other comic can say that, consistently?

    Only a few.


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