Published: February 18, 1992
Writer: Tom Veitch
Artist: Cam Kennedy
Colourist: Cam Kennedy
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Barbara Kesel
Cover Artist: Dave Dorman
Danger stalks the Rebels in the form of the massive World Devastators, dark side machines that destroy everything in their path. Their current target is the planet Calamari, which will be destroyed unless Lando Calrissian and the Rebel forces can reach it in time. Meanwhile, Luke meets the face behind the Force storm, a familiar face, while Leia feels Luke being torn away…
The early Expanded Universe suffered from what came to be known as “the Imperial superweapon of the week” with planet destroying weapons like the Suncrusher, the Darksaber, or the Galaxy Gun, continuing to pose a threat to the nascent New Republic in the plots of comics and novels in the nineties.
The New Jedi Order author Jon Williams, poked fun at this in-universe when he had Han Solo quip in Destiny’s Way: “That’s not what the Empire would have done, Commander. What the Empire would have done was build a super-colossal Yuuzhan Vong-killing battle machine. They would have called it the Nova Colossus or the Galaxy Destructor or the Nostril of Palpatine or something equally grandiose… And you know what would have happened? It wouldn’t have worked. They’d forget to bolt down a metal plate over an access hatch leading to the main reactors… and a hotshot enemy pilot would drop a bomb down there and blow the whole thing up. Now that’s what the Empire would have done.”
Heh… Nostril of Palpatine. Here in Dark Empire #2 we see the first of these Imperial superweapons: The World Devastators. True, the Marvel comics of the early eighties had the Tarkin; and of course, Return of the Jedi had a second Death Star. However, it is in this comic that the trend of technological terror after terror really started.
Which is not to criticize author Tom Veitch, or the concept of the World Devastator in any way. After all, if your idea gets copied by others again and again; that idea must have had merit (some other ideas from this issue that pop up elsewhere are a hidden planet of dark side acolytes, and star destroyers with planet killing tech). Of all the superweapons in the pantheon of Star Wars lore, from Starforge to Starkiller Base, the World Devastators are actually my favorite. Rather than simply show up in orbit around a hostile planet and then nuke it from space, the World Devastator slowly and methodically vacuums up the matter of a planet into the maw of its gigantic molecular furnace. And in a cruel and sick twist, reconstitutes those molecules into more material of war. With every Mon Calamari coral reef consumed, the World Devastator grows more powerful.
But as fearsome a silhouette as the World Devastators may form, it isn’t nearly as fearsome as the silhouette of our hero Luke Skywalker kneeling before the resurrected Emperor Palpatine. “I saw you die!” exclaims both Luke and a young me when I first read this comic in the aisle of my local comic bookstore. “Such are the mysteries of the Dark Side of the Force,” rejoined Palpatine to us both. Even more terrible then an Emperor reborn, was Luke seemingly joining him beside his Dark Side throne. And even more terrible then that, was the three month wait until Dark Empire #3!
Originally released by Dark Horse Comics, the Star Wars: Dark Empire series ran from 1991 to 1992, for 6 issues. Star Wars: Dark Empire #1 is currently available in digital format from the Marvel Online Comic Store, via the Marvel App, comiXology or by subscribing to Marvel Unlimited. A physical copy can be found in one of the many trade paperback releases from Marvel. Please check with Amazon UK and US or your local comic bookstore for availability.