REVEW: ‘Star Wars: Hidden Empire,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

hidden empire #1 - But Why Tho

Star Wars: Hidden Empire #1 is the beginning of the end of an era of epic Star Wars storytelling written by Charles Soule with art by Steven Cummings, ink by Victor Olazaba, color by GURU-eFX, and letters by VC’s Travis Lanham. This Marvel Comics production is essentially the third and final chapter of a saga in Star Wars comics that began in 2020 with the ongoing  Star Wars, Darth Vader, Bounty Hunters, and Doctor Aphra volumes, which came to a head in the War of the Bounty Hunters mega-crossover, continued with Crimson Reign, and now concludes here with Hidden Empire.

Hidden Empire #1 is not a jumping-on point. You’ll want to have read at least Crimson Reign (and watched Solo: A Star Wars Story), if not the entire swath of Original Trilogy-era Star Wars comics storytelling since the current volumes began in 2020. This is where everything seems to be culminating. This issue does begin with a dramatic frame story recapping the events of Crimson Reign, but it’s vague and leaves out a lot of exposition and explanation. It’s actually too vague. Because it takes up so much of the comic’s space but ultimately requires that you either remember everything perfectly or go back and reread it anyway to fully understand the recap.

As a framing device itself, it’s fine. Star Wars comics have basically been teasing Qi’ra’s demise for a long time, and while the issue does play with that foreshadowing to decent dramatic effect, it also just feels like a well-rung bell at this point. I’m ready to just watch it unfold rather than being reminded that it’s going to happen again and again.

For the parts of Hidden Empire #1 that do get into the actual plot, it’s rather epic. It’s all one big set-up issue, with the Empire cornering Qi’ra and Crimson Dawn into what could well be their final encounter. Qi’ra gets into an epic holographic spat with the Emperor himself, establishing her political position poignantly, only for Palpatine to crush her manifesto in a single sentence. But her wits shine as sharply as ever, and the convoluted but absolutely promising Sith shenanigans she threatens Sheev with put him on his toes. I’m more than ready to see how this all plays out as it surely will involve all the main players of the era, a major surprise new foe, soiled expectations for Qi’ra and the reader alike, and eventually a lead-in to Return of the Jedi.

The art for this series thus far is among the best in the Star Wars bullpen. No grey planet syndrome in sight; this is all worlds lush with color, tense scenes washed with tense color overlays and SFX coloring to match, and an art direction that emphasizes detail at every turn. A huge crash emblemizes all of this at once in a full-page display worth it for that alone. It’s absolutely saturated with shades of blue and red beyond what I’ve come to expect from most Star Wars comics. Qi’ra, in particular, looks like an absolute force, with another stunning outfit and powerful presence that simply surpasses her original appearance in a way that I can only hope inspires a future performance by Emilia Clarke on screen again when this saga is said and done.

Hidden Empire #1 is enough to leave you desperate to find out what will happen next. Its frame opening feels extraneous for the time being, but the events that unfold are ultimately epic, look incredible, and leave me rattling with anticipation over what the rest of this story will bring.

Hidden Empire #1 is available wherever comics are sold.


Hidden Empire #1
4.5

TL;DR

Hidden Empire #1 is enough to leave you desperate to find out what will happen next. Its frame opening feels extraneous for the time being, but the events that unfold are ultimately epic, look incredible, and leave me rattling with anticipation over what the rest of this story will bring.

But Why Tho? A Geek Community
%d bloggers like this: