Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire: Evolution

Writer: Steve Perry

Pencils: Ron Randall

Inks: Tom Simmons and Ron Randall

Distributed By: Dark Horse Comics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            It’s been many years since I first read Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, a novel by Steve Perry that was published in 1996.  The novel takes place in between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and reveals the attempts made by Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Princess Leia and Lando Calrissian to rescue Han Solo prior to his arrival at Jabba’s Palace.  I must admit that I have forgotten some of the storyline, but I always wanted to know what exactly happened to a human replica droid named Guri.  Having gotten my hands on Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire: Evolution, a graphic novel also written by Steve Perry, I can finally find out.

            For those who haven’t read the original Shadows of the Empire, Guri was a human replica droid trained to be an assassin for Prince Xizor, the Falleen overlord of the largest organized crime organization known as the Black Sun.  Prince Xizor had a big axe to grind with Lord Vader thanks to a failed “experiment” that killed off most of the Falleens of his homeworld.  Vying for a better position in the eyes of Emperor Palpatine, Xizor attempted to track down Luke Skywalker, hoping to both please the Emperor and exact his revenge on Vader by killing his son.  Unfortunately, his plans are thwarted and he is eventually killed by Vader.  Guri was thought to possibly have died with Xizor, but we soon learn that this is not the case.

            Flash forward to Shadows of the Empire: Evolution.  Guri is on a new mission.  She’s through with being an assassin and she wants to find someone who can turn her programming around.  Her search brings her to Massad Thrumble, a former Imperial Droid Research Facility Admiral.  If anyone could reprogram her it would be this man.  Unfortunately, finding him was difficult.  Finding the one droid he needs to achieve what Guri desires will be next to impossible.

            Meanwhile, Black Sun is at war with itself, each of the vigos fighting for the top spot now vacated by Prince Xizor’s untimely death.  The organization is floundering, but a mysterious being on Coruscant has a plan that can change all of that.  Unfortunately, Guri the assassin figures heavily in that plan.  Thus, Guri is not only fighting for her life, but for her freedom as well.  Our heroes, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian are drawn into the drama thanks to the civilians caught up in the Black Sun vigos’ war.

            It was nice to see Guri again and I loved her fight scenes in this graphic novel.  Finally, I can actually see the wonder that was Guri and her assassin skills instead of imagining it in my mind as I was forced to do when reading the novel that started it all.  The storyline is credible - Guri had doubts even while employed by Xizor and it makes sense that she would want to give up the life of an assassin now that she is on her own.  The artwork was rather well done and nicely detailed.  Every character looked exactly as I pictured them when reading the novel.  I especially liked a surprise appearance by Dash Rendar, a smuggler and a rogue in the vein of Han Solo.

            I enjoyed Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire: Evolution and found that it tied up lose ends nicely.  I would love to read more Guri adventures.  Unfortunately, the only mention I have found of Guri since the Shadow of the Empire novel and graphic novel have been in role playing games.  Guri’s a pretty cool character and I think it would be nice to know more about what happened to her after Evolutions without having to play a role playing game…hint, hint…are the powers that be listening?


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