Star Wars: Crimson Reign #1 Review: Soft Power
After a fantastic performance in the film Solo, the other best-known name from Corellia, steps into prominence with the light of a Crimson Dawn in Star Wars: Crimson Reign #1, armed with possibly the most dangerous thing in the galaxy — the truth. Qi'ra has created a fancast fantasy league lineup to shake the Star Wars universe up yet inevitably fail to affect the major players in any way (and that's not a criticism).
The shadow of the Sith hangs over the entire galaxy, with only the plucky and often overwhelmed Rebel Alliance as a serious threat. Qi'ra wants a new galaxy but doesn't have any of those sloppy ideas about democracy or coalition building. No, taking a page from the CIA, she believes regime change by force is the only logical choice, and that's done by killing Vader and his master, Emperor Palpatine. She has an advantage that the Rebels don't have — the instruction of Darth Maul, cast aside by the Sith, and leaving her a network that has some of the most dangerous people in space.
This Charles Soule script focuses on what's called soft power, nudging, infiltrating, and insinuating, so others create the conditions Qi'ra needs to threaten the two most dangerous men anyone knows. Qi'ra has assembled a list that looks like you shook Wookieepedia for characters as her core group — the Knights of Ren (representing the sequel era) and several representatives of Marvel's additions to canon (Chanath Cha, who was fantastic in one of those Lando miniseries, Ochi of Bestoon from the current Vader run and more). Then the story goes further to tickle fan-taint by bringing in Black Sun and name-dropping Prince Xizor, tossing in the high fortress of Oba Diah to tantalize Clone Wars fans, and so on. There's even an explanation of why the outpost was abandoned on Dantooine. This is a continuity-rich book that deeply rewards those steeped in the lore, and for the more casual fan, the point comes across that these are names and threats of import by developments in the story.
There are some interesting elements: the Knights of Ren, for example, hate the Sith and these two Sith in particular. To know, as we do from outside of the timeline, that they would come to serve a functional Vader fanboy leaves a certain odd taste in your mouth.
However, this is a great Star Wars tale that forges a middle lane between the traditional battles between Jedi and Sith. By focusing on the underground — the same way The Mandalorian did — this has all kinds of new chaos to sow with characters that we know will mostly end up like the cast of Rogue One due to the needs of the omnipresent canon. The artwork from Steven Cummings, Guru-eFX, and Travis Lanham present this all in a way that uses less photo reference than others, therefore (save the initial intro scene) giving these characters more flavor and vitality than some other works.
All around, this book explains exactly what it is upfront and never wavers from possibly the grandest swing since Bail and Mon Mothma got an idea to take up arms. RATING: BUY.
Star Wars: Crimson Reign #1
By Charles Soule, Steven Cummings
AFTER THE DAWN… COMES THE REIGN! The story that began with WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS continues here, in the second installment of a trilogy that will reshape the history of the Star Wars Galaxy during the Age of Rebellion. Featuring the return of beloved characters, shocking twists, epic feats of the Force and a story that will reach from Star Wars' darkest underworld all the way to the Imperial Palace on Coruscant, Crimson Reign is a Star Wars saga like no other!