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Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 1

What is it ? : The story begins with a Mining Guild Ore Transporter in space, they have just signed deals for their ore with both The Empire and The New Republic, as both sides need it, when the vessel comes under attack by pirates. When the ship is boarded, the captain surrenders his cargo to the pirates, but the pirate captain demands their secret cargo that they're smuggling under the flag of truce with the two sides.
Meanwhile on Ord Cantrell, an exclusive resort planet, the Imperial Ruling Council is meeting, they discuss the Empires options, including making peace with the Republic. Some of the council members are disgusted that the Empire would consider such a thing, commenting that it's bad enough they allow non-humans on the council now. The meeting ends, and the council leader, Burr Nolyds, heads back to his luxury villa where he finds a communication disc which turns out to be a bomb when he activates it causing it to explode, killing him.
Meanwhile on the world of Genon, the Hutt, Grappa, punishes one of his underlings who has failed him due to the alert increase caused by the death of Burr Nolyds. He then meets with a human woman who offers her services in exchange for his help in finding a man she is seeking, something he accepts, identifying the woman as Mirith Sinn.
The Imperial Ruling Council meets to choose a new leader, and selects the human, Xandel Carivus, who looks on uninterested munching on what appears to be a chicken leg. He is congratulated and heads back to his quarters where he meets with an exotically armoured figure he identifies as Nom Amor. They speak and it is revealed that Nom Amor is behind Xandel's rise to power and likely planted the explosive which killed Burr Nolyds.
The Pirate Captain returns to Grappa the Hutt, telling him the Ore Transport Captain was very helpful, revealing him as a prisoner, but when they determine that he can help them no longer, they give him to some of Grappa's henchmen, the Zanibar, a trio of aliens with veiny skin and a grimace which reveals their teeth for part in one of their rituals.
A bounty hunter arrives, and while Grappa is pleased to accept his service, he questions the fact that he has had his fingerprints removed and wears a helmet which hides his face and vocal patterns, making him unidentifiable and a man without a history. But the hunter simply tells him that it isn't so rare in someone in his profession, which Grappa appears to accept.
However when the hunter heads to his quarters, Grappa actives monitoring systems to see who he is when he removes his helmet, but the hunter finds and destroys the systems. Grappa actives a final system he is sure the hunter won't locate, but only sees the hunter activating a universal jammer, which scrambles the signal, before we see the hunter remove his helmet revealing himself to be Kir Kanos.

High Points : The artwork is really lovely in this issue, and I have to say the scenes on Ord Cantrell look absolutely gorgeous, showing stunning scenery, and a resort world that looks like somewhere you'd want to holiday.
But apart from that, there's not a huge amount to recommend in this issue. It's pretty much all just set up, and without context a lot of that set up doesn't make sense yet.

Low Points : Are Mirith Sinn and Kir Kanos working together again? It just seems too convenient that in all of the galaxy, both of them turn up at Grappa the Hutt's base within a day of each other. We're given no context for how they decided to go there, so I can only assume so far that there's some kind of arrangement they've made, to throw a curveball at the reader, so when we think that Mirith has caught Kanos, we'll get a flashback to them meeting and making up previously.

We're back to lots of backstory and set up, although it's not flashbacks for a change. But so much is going on without telling us, hoping we'll be intrigued and therefore invested in finding out the mysteries by reading on. We're not told what the Pirates were really seeking on the Ore Transport, who Nom Amor is, why Mirith Sinn and Kir Kanos have arrived at Grappa's base (although I assume it's to get hold of whatever the pirates acquired). Apart from the head of the Ruling Council being killed, apparently by Nom Amor putting his puppet in charge of the Remnants of the Empire, we really only have a bunch of people arriving at places.

So what do you really think ? : I'm kind of marking this issue up because I hope the set up pays off, but I'm really not impressed by this first issue of Council of Blood. And I'm really not impressed by the Council of Blood either, since they just seem to be a bunch of petty, squabbling, bureaucrats, which doesn't seem that interesting.

Final Words : Fingers crossed the story gets into its stride next issue, because I can't recommend it at the moment, even if it is competently drawn and written, the plot just isn't there to make me want to read on, and the mysteries just aren't that interesting to me. If we'd just had some more story to get into, with the mysteries scattered in to intrigue and make me want to read more, but with just mysteries, it's just all promise and no delivery yet.

Score : 7/10

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