Star Wars: Crimson Reign is a new comic series. It focusses on the character of Qi’ra and the role of the Crimson Dawn organisation she now leads around the time of the original film trilogy.
Kill The Emperor
The ground for Crimson Reign was prepared already in War of the Bounty Hunters. It showed the comeback of this organisation into the galactic underworld after years of dormancy and under Qi’ra’s new leadership. Crimson Reign further unfolds Qi’ra’s plans that are explained on the very first pages: having become aware, thanks to Maul, of the truth about Palpatine and his Sith origins, she seeks to topple down the Imperial order. No lesser means are used than sending the best assassins in the Galaxy to attack the Emperor, plus a lot of intrigue in the criminal underworld.
Loose Threads: Ren…
Crimson Reign is an ambitious storytelling project, as one can see already from the first issue. Not only does it feature Qi’ra but also other important big players of the Star Wars lore, such as Ochi of Bestoon (the assassin tasked with killing Rey’s parents) and Ren (yes, the dude from whom Knights of Ren received their name). The fact that Crimson Dawn is an underworld organisation allowed the writers to invent a completely new storyline that is set in an already familiar timeframe. Super-important, Galaxy-impacting events can be happening, and the reason why we have not heard about them before can be easily explained with the fact that they were happening in the shadowy underworld, behind the scenes.
The writing was done by Charles Soule, who by now has become a trustworthy Star Wars household name, and the art is by Steven Cummings. The graphic quality is therefore good and the story also flows nicely. Both old and new characters are presented in an interesting way. Various elements are inserted to provide some “coolness” to the story: random but epic assassins associated with Crimson Dawn, Qi’ra and her “girl power triumvirate” that helps her lead the Crimson Dawn, plus the mysterious Archivist who is telling the story and whose identity is only slowly revealed to the reader.
A “Postscript” To Solo&TFA?
Negatives? It almost feels like a too big piece to swallow. Especially given that all the major characters (Qi’ra, Ren, Ochi) have one thing in common: so far the lore about them has been extremely scarce. And suddenly we have all of them dumped into one story. Lore-wise, it seems like a good move to introduce more background information on the Knights of Ren or Ochi via somebody else’s story, and it is especially cool to see them in a story thirty years before The Force Awakens timeline.
Nevertheless, the story feels almost too good to be just “dumped” into a comic. By this I do not mean to say that it would be somehow inferior medium, but that as it is, it will remain hidden from most of its potential audience.
It feels like a postscript: oh, we teased this cool Crimson Dawn idea in Solo, but it otherwise was such a flop that we dare not follow on it elsewhere; or we left so many things unexplained in the sequel trilogy, well here we’re dumping on you the background on the Knights of Ren or Ochi of Bestoon.
So it is not really about the comic’s fault rather than what Disney should have done but did not do: think the sequel trilogy story with some thorough preparation and more systematically, and present (and cast) Qi’ra in such a manner that they could make a film/TV sequel.
But Crimson Reign itself is good and I can only recommend reading it to… basically any Star Wars fan. It is, after all, a light read, and you will find some nice action as well as some background on important characters from the Star Wars lore.