If you’re a fan of a certain age, the phrase ‘Star Wars comics’ evokes memories of Dark Horse, bold ideas and vibrant imagery. And if you’re anything like me, those vibrant images you’re conjuring will be in the distinctive style of Cam Kennedy.
No other artist made an impact on the early Star Wars Expanded Universe like Kennedy, the Scottish artist who rose to four-colour fame with the classic UK sci-fi anthology 2000 AD. Yet as iconic as Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper are to comic fans, it was one particular EU tale that elevated the artist to legendary status…
Dark Empire was a six-issue miniseries released by Dark Horse Comics between 1991 and 1992 that took us right into the original post-ROTJ era. Set six years after the Battle of Endor, the series featured an Imperial remnant discovering a new impetus, leading Luke Skywalker to the verge of the dark side in a battle against the reborn Emperor Palpatine.
The bombast of the concept lived and died on the execution, and the team of Kennedy and writer Tom Veitch delivered in spades. Kennedy showed us destroyed battlegrounds, new bases, new fighter craft and smuggler worlds the likes of which we had only imagined before in our own Star Wars adventures. The story may have become somewhat inconsequential against the broader sweep of the Expanded Universe, but, as Ryan Britt explores on Tor.com, the artwork made it truly shine.
After returning for Dark Empire II, Kennedy moved on to a new part of the universe – a series of Boba Fett one-shots. Bounty on Bar-Kooda, Murder Most Foul and Death, Lies & Treachery all helped to build the mystique and legend of the infamous bounty hunter, and did so with the stylish, dynamic visuals that we’d grown accustomed to.
These adventures helped to cement the expanded universe that we all became so familiar with over the two decades leading up to 2013. From the grimy dealings of the Hutt underworld to the grand galactic sweep of Luke Skywalker’s new Jedi Academy, Cam Kennedy showed us them all with a bold, unique, and utterly Star Wars style.