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Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 2

What is it ? : KIr Kanos in his bounty hunter disguise arrives on the world of Lay Pa-Sidian and moves through the streets until he is confronted by a gang. The gang tells him they know he's here on the command of Grappa the Hutt, and they attack, but obviously the Royal Guardsman easily defeats them.
Back on Ord Cantrell, another member of the Ruling Council is found dead, Admiral Banjeer, stabbed with a knife with a particular emblem on the hilt, and security is ordered to be doubled and put on full alert.
Meanwhile on the planet Smarck, a world kept secret by the Black Sun criminal organisation, Grappa arrives with his retinue and meets with Macus, a leader of Black Sun. Grappa brings Gree Spice, in exchange for someone that Black Sun has being kept drugged and docile. Mirith Sinn as part of Grappa's retinue secretly observes this exchange and recognises the person as Feena D'Asta, a member of the Imperial Ruling Council and searching around the Black Sun Palace discovers a cloning facility.
Back on Ord Cantrell, the Ruling Council meets to discuss the assassination of Admiral Banjeer, with some of the human members of the council pointing out it's only the humans on the council who have been killed, so blaming the non-humans. Imperial Security Lieutenant Ganner reports to the council that both the explosive and the knife had the same emblem on them, that of Kir Kanos, and the council puts the largest bounty the galaxy has ever seen on the head of Kir Kanos. However, Feena D'Asta blames the new leader of the council, Xandel Carivus, for the failures and the deaths of the council members and they have a vote of no confidence in him, however the motion isn't heavily supported and fails after it is pointed out that Feena only days ago called for peace with the Rebels.
Xandel returns to his quarters where he demands the Nom Anor deal with the situation with Feena, but Nom reminds him to know his place and he asks for forgiveness from his Master, and Nom tells him there must be another assassination.
Back at Grappa's palace on Genon, Kir Kanos in his bounty hunter disguise delivers his target to Grappa, who is overjoyed and calls out dancing girls and offers Kanos a bonus. However events are interrupted when his droid brings him a datapad telling him that communications wanted him to see it. Grappa exclaims "The Faceless One", as he orders events cancelled saying he needs to be alone, and Kir Kanos quietly moves over to collect the discarded datapad, finding an image of Nom Anor's hooded visage. . . .

High Points : The different plotlines are starting to come together and the story is making more of a cohesive whole, with the events surrounding the ruling council becoming connected to Kir Kanos and Grappa the Hutt.
And the story is moving forward at a good speed, which helps keep me interested in what's going on.

The artwork of scenery continues to be great in this series, and Lay Pa-Sidian looks amazing, a beautiful city with yachts and liners in it's harbour, something we've not really seen in Star Wars before. In fact now I think of it, we don't really see coastal cities in Star Wars except on Canto Bight, which really only has a beach not a port. As someone who has always lived on the coast, this does seem like a bit of a gap in the universe.

Low Points : I have the biggest question about Mirith Sinn and Kir Kanos, they're both hanging around Grappa's Palace, and last time we saw them at the end of Crimson Empire, Sinn was swearing to kill Kanos. While he is "in disguise", it's not really a great disguise as it leaves the bottom half of his face uncovered and he's carrying his signature Force Pike around with him.
So either as I postulated last issue, they're working together and it's going to be the most heavily signposted twist in history ("Mirith Sinn catches Kir Kanos on the orders of Grappa, but, da-da-duh, they've been working together all along and turn the tables"), or Mirith is just a bit dumb, having come to Grappa to track down Kir Kanos, but does even recognise him when he's in the same room.
Although I'll admit it could be quite clever, as if Kanos is caught by Grappa as he goes around behind the Hutt's back, Grappa is tied into a contract with Sinn to hand him over. Which would make a pretty excellent escape route.

So what do you really think ? : It's a solid issue and builds nicely on the last issue, but many of my problems with that issue continue here, leading to a corresponding low mark. We still have no idea what Kir Kanos plan is, we don't really know who Nom Anor is (although he kind of looks like he's wearing Yuuzhan Vong armour, but so does Darth Krayt in the Legacy era, and given he was born during the Clone Wars means that this quite possibly could be him operating under a different name, which would be interesting), it's all still mystery without any pay off yet.

Final Words : Although last issue I said that the number of mysteries wasn't drawing me in as the writers probably intended, instead doing the opposite. However as this issue went by, they are getting me involved. Although it is somewhat out of frustration, "Tell me what's going on, tell me what the characters motivations are!", and somewhat because I'm coming up with amazing ideas on possible plotlines (like the Darth Krayt one above), but I know in my heart of hearts that the writers won't deliver and it'll be something really obvious instead, and that's making me a little sad as I enjoyed the first Crimson Empire, but this one really isn't living up to it.

Score : 7.5/10

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