Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer of Star Wars

With the recent announcement of another Dark Horse Star Wars title, I got to thinking about how twenty years ago this summer could rightfully be called my 'Summer of Star Wars'. I was in my early teens and comics were still all the rage so in June of that year, I bought Dark Horse's Dark Empire #4 by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy and was immediately transfixed. From there I traversed my area looking in every comic shop for back issues 1-3. Fortunately I was able to find them in a great little store called Comics North in Sudbury, Ontario and from there it was a frantic effort to consume any and everything Star Wars related.
Dark Horse Comics Dark Empire #1 (December 1991)
Dark Horse Comics Dark Empire #4 (May 1992)
From Dark Horses Dark Empire #2 (February 1992)
Dark Empire was Dark Horse Comics’ first foray into the Star Wars franchise and helped significantly to establish the comics element of its ‘Expanded Universe’. Published shortly after that company purchased the licensing rights from Lucasfilm (Marvel had let them go years earlier) the series helped reverse an overall decline which had started when the hype around Return of the Jedi dissipated. To my knowledge it was also the first regular Star Wars comic book since 1986.

Dark Horse's Dark Empire #2 (February 1992)
Dark Horse's Dark Empire #4 (April 1992)
Of course, Dark Empire wasn't without some help. The release of Timothy's Zahn's fantastic book Heir to the Empire in May 1992 aided in this renaissance and helped Bantam Spectra launch a virtual fleet of Star Wars related books. Having since bought the rights, Del Rey still publishes Star Warsnovels. 
So while the ultimate result of this Star Wars resurgence is still debatable -- I don't want to wade into a debate about the Prequel Trilogy or the 'Special Editions' – Dark Empire was a catalyst for so many fans, my included, to get back into Star Wars and enjoy that great mythic universe. Dark Horse would (and still does) publish comics based on George Lucas’ creation and while I’ve since stopped reading them, they like Depeche Mode and New Order were a staple of my existence in the early to mid 1990s and will always be looked upon with a certain fondness. 

Dark Horse's Dark Empire #4 (April 1992)
Dark Horse's Classic Star Wars #1 (August 1992)
If you have any Star Wars related memories please leave a comment.  Also if you’re looking for some actual history of the Dark Empire series, check out this Comic Book Urban Legends feature from CBR. It's an interesting read. 

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