Accomplished comic book writer and novelist Charles Soule is in the middle of the second installment of his trilogy of miniseries about Han Solo’s ex-girlfriend (and current leader of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate) Qi’ra, entitled Star Wars: Crimson Reign from Marvel Comics. Following the events of Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters, Crimson Reign follows Qi’ra as she stokes the fires of a war between the galaxy’s biggest criminal organizations in the period between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Issue #2 of Crimson Reign was released today, and it focuses in on two of Qi’ra’s henchpeople– assassins Ochi of Bestoon (first seen in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as the murderer of Rey’s parents in flashbacks) and Deathstick (who has a very silly name and first popped up in a 2015 mobile game called Star Wars: Uprising before making her way over to the current-canon comics).
Meeting with Qi’ra aboard Crimson Dawn’s flagship the Vermillion, Ochi and Deathstick are each given targets (a group of Imperial Royal Guards and Cadeliah– the heir to the Unbroken Clan and Mourner’s Wail syndicates from Marvel’s ongoing Star Wars: Bounty Hunters comic), so they head off to Coruscant and the Outer Rim planet of Panisia to track their respective prey. Back on her ship, Qi’ra explains to her aides why these two assassins are so valuable to her, and when we check in on Ochi he’s using a stealth courier droid to poison the guards in the Imperial Palace. We learn a little more about Deathstick’s past on Dathomir (perhaps correcting a mistake from the previous issue wherein she was incorrectly referred to as human), and we see her call the Empire in on a hidden Rebel Alliance base where Cadeliah is hiding out. Both skilled professionals accomplish their missions, with the Emperor’s guards collapsing to the ground in front of him (intended to send a message that Crimson Dawn is more powerful and has a wider reach than Palpatine had assumed) and Deathstick surprisingly delivering Cadeliah to Qi’ra instead of eliminating her as we, the readers, had taken for granted was her assigned task.
I don’t necessarily have any deep attachment to these characters– Ochi has been entertaining enough over in the Star Wars: Darth Vader title and Qi’ra is fine in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but Deathstick doesn’t really have a lot going on (other than looking and acting like a ninja) so far, personality-wise– so I found it hard to connect with this issue on any meaningful level, despite still having great respect for Soule’s writing. The artwork by Steven Cummings in Crimson Reign also remains excellent, but I’m looking forward to this five-issue miniseries getting to the point where it’s not just about Qi’ra pulling the strings from the background anymore. It’s interesting that Cadeliah is getting a fairly major development in her story in these pages rather than in Bounty Hunters, where her narrative has felt stalled for quite a while, but maybe Soule and Ethan Sacks have been planning this turn of events and Sacks has been forced to tread water with this in mind. I can’t imagine Beilert Valance is going to be too thrilled when he finds out that Qi’ra has kidnapped his former ward, but he’s under Lord Vader’s thumb right now anyway, so that may not play out immediately. Regardless of all that, I’m enjoying Crimson Reign overall and curious to see where it’s all headed as more issues are released.
Star Wars: Crimson Reign #2 is available now wherever comic books are sold.