A betrayal so confusing that it’s hard to know who betrayed who!
Cover Art By: Brian Horton
Art By: Ryan Benjamin
Written By: Scott Allie
“The Empire can always use more mindless automatons.” – Darth Vader
The string of Star Wars comic books I have read lately have not done any justice to the great Star Wars comic books I know are out there. I was hoping that Empire’s first arc, Betrayal, would break the current downward spiral. Unfortunately, I have to say that Betrayal only added to my frustration with the Star Wars comic books I have been reading lately. What’s worse is I know a lot of people who speak highly of Betrayal, and even some comic book publications who lauded plenty of praise upon Betrayal. I don’t want to be the Darrell Downer of Star Wars fandom, but the rancid nature of Betrayal left me no choice but to vehemently disagree with most Star Wars fans.
The quote that I used above was the first problem I had with Betrayal. The facts of the matter are that Darth Vader, especially a Darth Vader that Betrayal suggests is struggling with his former life as Anakin Skywalker, would never say that about Clone Troopers. Whether it was Anakin or Vader, he was a man who did view the Clones as more than automatons. Having him call the Clones automatons really started the book off on a sour note.
The sourness only continued to grow as the irksome elements of Betrayal piled up panel after panel. Why does Vader have to choke Admiral Coy? What purpose does that serve other than to make an infantile connection to Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Vader is someone who knows how to intimidate others, and he has always shown that he intimidates through presence before he resorts to actual action. Why does every Moff we see have to be completely exotic, and not in an alien way? This is an attempt to connect them to exoticism that Vader had in his initial appearances. However, much like most of Betrayal it comes across as cheap and ends up leaving characters like Grand Moff’s Trachta and Bartam as vacuous throwaways. I’m not even going to bother to go into the Dark Jedi woman, because that’s a connection to other material that is weak on the worst possible level.
Then there is the issue of the actual story in Betrayal, one so badly conceived and muddled that it makes almost no sense. I’m not genius, but I’m also not an idiot. Yet, I had trouble following the twists and turns of Betrayal. It’s not that the story is super complicated, rather it’s that the characters are so one-note that it was hard to separate one from the other and follow what was happening. Another major problem with the story is the artwork and how subpar it is. Not only does it dip and dive in quality from panel to panel, but there are moments when it fails to convey what is happening or which character is which in the most frustrating of ways.
Derivative characters and motifs, coupled with a bad, and terribly muddled, story, and borderline offensive artwork does not a good comic book make. Betrayal is yet another in a recent string of easily forgotten Star Wars comic book arcs. Maybe the rest of Empire will be better, but Betrayal certainly didn’t leave me with too high of hopes. The only real betrayal in Betrayal was that of a Star Wars comic betraying my sensibilities as a Star Wars, and comic book, fan.