The Crimson Forever, the 5oth issue of the classic Star Wars Marvel run was three times the size of a normal issue and featured artwork by Al Williamson. Williamson, you might remember, also worked on the comic adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back and I really like his work a lot. It is highly detailed and represents the characters and ships accurately.
But, the question remains, is the story any good?
While attempting to find their friend Han Solo, Chewie and Lando are called off from their search by an emergency message from Princess Leia. A plague called the Crimson Forever is threatening all life in the Galaxy for Imperial and Rebel alike and Luke Skywalker is in a dangerous coma from the disease. While he was out on a mission for the Alliance he and his men encountered a derelict Star Destroyer will all of its personnel dead. Their skin was an odd red hue and the only thing found on the ship that was unusual was a single red gem. Believing this to be the cause of the disease the jewel was secured and locked away, but it was too late for Luke’s party and they succumbed to the disease.
Chewbacca believes he knows where the jewel came from and tells Lando and Leia about an adventure he and Han Solo had in which they encountered two similar jewels in a temple on a faraway planet. The two smugglers were captured by cultists led by a man named Klysk who was kidnapping mercenaries to help him steal two red jewels from a priesthood which he was opposed to. The priests who guard the gems live on a planet in The Red Nebula which is outside the Galaxy. Long ago the nebula was a part of the Galaxy, but a cataclysm caused it to separate and fall further and further away. The nebula and its planets were bombarded by meteor activity, but a region on the priesthood’s planet was safe because the two jewels protected them. Klysk and his followers believe that it was the destiny of the priests in the Red Nebula to die and their survival was an act of blasphemy. Klysk intends to steal the jewels which were the priests’ source of protection and destroy them.
When Han and the other kidnapped mercenaries land on the planet he and the Wookiee reach the temple first and steal the jewels. Some other mercenaries attempt to take them from Solo but they are attacked by a giant black ape creature that kills them. The giant ape however takes a liking to Chewbacca and picks him and cuddles with him giving Han ample time to sneak out the gems without provoking the creature which has been the jewels’ guardian for years.
Klysk finds Han and takes the bag from him, but unbeknownst to Klysk the bag only has a pair of common stones in it and the red gems are hidden away elsewhere. Klysk abandons Solo on the planet and Han goes back to the temple to find Chewie and his new friend still playing.
When they get back to the place where Han stashed the gems they find a dead mercenary who had one of them in his hand. His skin was all red and it is revealed to Han Solo and Chewie by the priest at the temple that the gems released a plague called the Crimson Forever when they were separated. The jewels are given back to the priesthood and the two rebels find transportation off the planet.
After Chewbacca finishes his story he and Lando and Leia return to the Red Nebula and find a damaged mining ship that belongs to the Tagge family. The Tagges having been a thorn in the Rebellion’s side for some time, Princess Leia is understandably apprehensive.
On board they find more dead bodies of people who caught the Crimson Forever and in a secure section of the ship Domina Tagge herself surrounded by bounty hunters!
Turns out Domina blamed the Empire and the Rebellion both for the death of her brother and has been seeking a way to wreck vengeance on both. Learning of the properties of the two jewels she plotted a way to unleash the Crimson Forever on the Galaxy ridding herself of the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. However, the Empire grew suspicious of her activities and sent a Star Destroyer to her location and forced her to give up the gems. A firefight between the bounty hunters and the Imperials caused the jewels to be separated prematurely and the plague wiped out the Imperials and most of the personnel on the Tagge vessel. With Domina and the bounty hunters effectively trapped in their secure section Leia and Lando agree to help them escape unharmed on the condition that the jewel in their possession is handed over so they can reunite it with the other one on the Star Destroyer. Domina Tagge agrees and the Imperial vessel with both deadly jewels intact is sent out into space away from the Galaxy. With the gems together again the plague victims begin to awake from what was apparently only a deep deathlike coma and Luke Skywalker lives to be rescued by his friends another day.
Meanwhile, Lando surreptitiously suggests to the bounty hunters accompanying Domina that she has now, thanks to her actions, made herself an enemy of the Empire and probably would fetch a high bounty.
Aside from the artwork The Crimson Forever is just OK. It’s not a terrible story, but the plot is cheesy. The name of the disease is as goofy as it can be and any sci-fi story involving travel to other galaxies on a regular basis is hard to take seriously. At least in most stories involving the improbability of faster-than-light travel the spacefarers stick to their own galaxy. Heck, in Star Trek leaving a single quadrant is considered a long trip. Going to other galaxies is just silly in my opinion and there are things that should be considered too improbable even in Star Wars.
And I am not too big on the giant ape cuddling with Chewie either. That’s Jar Jar Binks level comedy right there. Which is basically saying it’s not funny. It’s just offensively stupid.
Aside from those two gripes all the other little bits of nonsense in this story are minor. As I said the art is good and the story is not painfully bad. It just boils down to a mediocre story that I can take or leave.
Check next week for Star Wars EU Reviews Supplemental: What Would Living in the Star Wars Galaxy Be Like?