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Star Wars:  Legends Vol. 4: The New Republic

Collects Star Wars: Heir To The Empire #1-6, Star Wars: Dark Force Rising #1-6 And Star Wars: The Last Command #1-6. The Thrawn Trilogy is here! Five years after the glorious rebel victory against the second Death Star, Luke Skywalker is the first of a new line of Jedi Knights! Han Solo and Princess Leia are married and have taken on many of the burdens of governing the New Republic. But the galaxy is not yet safe. Far, far away, something festers. One lingering faction of the Empire — near death, but all the more dangerous for it. And a new discovery could spark it back into life. The last of the Emperor’s warlords, Admiral Thrawn, is ready to seize his chance as a dark and deadly force — and suddenly, the odds are stacked heavily against Luke, Leia and Han!

Based on The Novels by Timothy Zahn
Writer: Mike Baron
Pencillers: Olivier Vatine, Fred Blanchard, Kevin Nowlan, Edvin Blukovic, & Eric Shanower with Vincent Rueda
Colorist: Isabelle Rabarot, Pamella Rambo, Dan Brown, & Digital Chameleon
Letterer: Ellie De Ville
Cover Artist: Mathieu Lauffray
Assistant Editor: David Land
Editors: Ryder Windham, Bob Cooper, and Peet Janes
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $39.99
Release Date: October 17, 2018

The 1991 release of Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire was an exhilarating and rejuvenating experience for Star Wars fans, myself included. At long last, we had Star Wars approved by the Maker and it felt like the Star Wars that he had created. Although, speculating with friends and imagining our own stories fed the years in between, we needed replenishment and Zahn delivered.

Four years later, Dark Horse embarked on adapting the novels of what would become known as The Thrawn Trilogy (Heir to The Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command) to the comic medium. Each novel was adapted into their own six issue series from 1995 to 1997. This volume from Marvel’s Epic Collection collects all eighteen issues into one 472-page volume.

It’s standard advice to read the books before any other adaptations but the creative team behind this series did an excellent job. Having recently reread the trilogy, I feel the comics really stand along the prose and very little has been omitted. In fact, I would recommend a new fan to read this if they didn’t have the time for the novels or even an unabridged audio version. I feel it mirrors that novels that well.

For those unfamiliar with the Thrawn Trilogy, the story takes place five years after the destruction of the second Death Star. The New Republic is just beginning to emerge, and the remnants of the Empire are scrambling to regain power. The Empire looks to Grand Admiral Thrawn, a blue-skinned Chiss which the New Republic had never encountered. A supreme strategist, Thrawn formulates a plan to stamp out the New Republic. He enlists a mysterious Dark Jedi and victory appears to be assured.

Today, we have the luxury of Star Wars: Rebels to bring some of the characters featured in the novels. I find it impossible to not hear Lars Mikkelsen voicing Grand Admiral Thrawn when I read any of his dialogue. Grand Admiral Thrawn has been the best choice to crossover from the Expanded Universe to official canon. Zahn certainly created a fascinating character that draws the audience to be astounded by his calculating intellect and attracted to his nebulous background (I highly recommend Timothy Zahn’s Outbound Flight, Thrawn, and Thrawn: Alliances for further reading).

The artwork is of its era but is in no way diminished in quality. The characters are represented closely to the descriptions found in the prose. There is very little difference from Thrawn found in the comics to the version we know from Star Wars: Rebels, however, his bodyguard Rukh is a bit inconsistent as portrayed in the cartoon series. The Dark Horse version is a bit too broad-shouldered and doesn’t quite capture the stealth and abilities of the assassin as featured in the cartoon. Matthew Lauffray’s covers are exceptional and one of my favorite parts of this comic series. They bring the series to life in a similar manner to Tom Jung’s covers of the original novel series. Those covers were reworked in 2016 by Rich Kelly but Jung and Lauffray’s renditions remain my favorite.

In the end, this volume in the Epic Collection should be considered a must-have. Not only because it is an excellent adaptation of the novels but it’s convenient to have the series in one edition to reduce tampering with your original copies. After all, it’s going to be nearly 30 years since they were released!