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Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood 6

What is it ? : Baron D'Asta's forces are attacking Ord Cantrell, as the Baron attempts to retrieve his daughter from the prison that Emperor Xandel Carivus has thrown her into. As the Empire is being overwhelmed, Carivus orders Feena D'Asta released if her father will cease his attack, and when questioned what would happen if he refuses, Carivus reveals he has an escape plan, but one that will come at the cost of the defending forces.
Baron D'Asta decides to agree to the deal, as any further fighting would put his daughters life at risk.
On Genon, one of Grappa's henchmen, a Yuzzum called Shmood, releases Grappa from the cell where Mirith Sinn had left him, but Grappa is angry that Shmood didn't help him earlier, so locks the Yuzzum into the cell. Grappa contacts Black Sun to put the blame on the New Republic, but they have already captured Dengar who has told them the full true story.
Around Ord Cantrell, Baron D'Asta's flagship receives the shuttle carrying his daughter, and as the two embrace, Mirith Sinn arrives with his true daughter, revealing that the one who has been on the council for the past 4 years was actually a clone. The clone admits the truth, and Kir Kanos springs forward to kill her, as she was one of the conspirators who planned the death of Emperor Palpatine.
Baron D'Asta asks what's going on, and Kir Kanos reveals the full plan, of how the Ruling Council planned to corrupt the clones of Palpatine so they would age and die, leaving Palpatine with nowhere to go. as a loyal Imperial Baron D'Asta is angry, but doesn't want even a clone of his daughter to be put to death.
Mirith Sinn asks for clone Feena's life to be spared, reminding Kanos of the death of her friend Sadeet, and that Kanos owes her a life.
Since the rest of the council have been killed or jailed by Carivus, he remains the only target and Baron D'Asta and Sinn agree to a plan to help Kanos achieve his revenge.
Back on Genon, Grappa is loading a starship attempting to flee, when the Zanibar arrive seeking their share of the payment for Kanos. Grappa explains that the New Republic took him, and they should learn to just swallow their losses and move on.
In his throne room on Ord Cantrell, Emperor Carivus is informed that Baron D'Asta seeks a personal audience with him, which he accepts saying that the Baron is an honourable man. As he waits, Nom Amor arrives from out of the shadows to tell him that his plans have changed and no longer include Carivus, and wishes him well on his encounter with Kir Kanos.
Baron D'Asta arrives and tells him that his sectors will be withdrawing from the Empire, and he is sure that others will too when they discover the traitorous actions of the council against Palpatine. Carivus counters that D'Asta's own daughter was part of the council, so shares some of the blame, but D'Asta reveals that it was only a clone, so his daughter is innocent.
Carivus calls for guards to seize the D'Asta's, but Kir Kanos enters the room, and a melee begins as he fights his way towards Carivus. In the fighting, Tav Kennede leaps in the way of a blaster bolt aimed for Baron D'Asta, and although wounded survives. After checking his friend is okay, Kir Kanos chases the fleeing Carivus, catching up with him and killing the traitor and ending the oath he swore to get revenge on those who killed Emperor Palpatine.
Mirith Sinn tells him that some of the other council members remain still in the Carivus's cells, but Kanos decides that there has been enough killing. Baron D'Asta meanwhile thinks to himself that he understands Kanos need for revenge, hoping he lives long enough to see Grappa suffer for what he did to his daughter.
Meanwhile aboard the starship used by the Zanibar, Grappa is a chained prisoner as they take him home to be used in one of their ceremonies.
Aboard D'Asta's flagship, Sinn offers D'Asta membership in the New Republic, something he rejects for now, but says they can remain friends as he owes her personally for the rescue of his daughter. Tav Kennede remains with the Baron, and Kir Kanos tells him he will prosper in the Barons service as the Baron is a good man, and Kennede tells him if he ever needs his help he need only ask.
Mirith Sinn asks Kanos to stay, telling him she could resign from the Republic and they could be together and they kiss, but he tells her that her heart would remain with the Republic and his allegiance remains with the Emperor. . . .

High Points : So we reach the end of this story, and it's been a bit of a mess. A skillfully told mess with gorgeous artwork, but a story that doesn't make a lot of sense.
But we do reach a resolution, and it does feel like we're reaching the end of the Empire here. With Baron D'Asta and presumably other sector leaders declaring themselves independent from the Empire, while some might remain loyal to the concepts of the Empire, and keep using the weapons and symbols of the Empire, it isn't a cohesive whole and shouldn't remain a threat to the New Republic.

Low Points : But this is supposed to be Crimson Empire II, following Kir Kanos actions, and he actually seems to be quite sidelined throughout. Even his final revenge only comes about because of Mirith Sinn, she not only rescues him from Grappa, but also provides all of the elements to get him face to face with Carivus.
In fact, Kir Kanos' plan to become a famous bounty hunter proves to be as useless as it first appeared, and doesn't help in the final plot at all, events just happen to Kanos, rather than him driving the plot forwards.

I do kind of respect what the artists tried with Carivus' guards, who are an updated design of Stormtrooper, with the familiar O11 on their backs, but redesigned helmets with a larger visor and presumably better visibility. But whereas the Clone Trooper and First Order versions of the armour are obviously evolutions of the same suit as the Stormtroopers, this looks pretty different. Also the fact it is coloured red, perhaps linking to it's usage by the ruling council, the Council of Blood of the title, but when Kir Kanos attacks wearing his red Royal Guardsman armour, it just becomes confusing. I definitely think that the new Stormtrooper armour should have remained white.

So what do you really think ? : I'm really not that impressed by Crimson Empire II, not only doesn't it tell a particularly well plotted story, it just wraps things up a little too conveniently for me. Grappa getting caught by the Xanibar, and presumably dragged off to be killed and perhaps eaten just feels like "bad guy gets just desserts", rather than a sensible part of the plot.
And the Kir Kanos / Mirith Sinn relationship doesn't make a whole load of sense, as she goes from wanting to kill him for his murder of Sadeet, to falling in love with him and kissing him by the end of the story. I guess she just likes "bad boys", as he's not even very nice to her throughout, even if he does save her life.

Final Words : So I've given Crimson Empire II higher marks than it really deserves, as it looks brilliant, and is well put together even if the main plot makes little sense.
I notice at the end of the issue the writers talk about moving onto Crimson Empire III which should "hit the stands late fall". But Crimson Empire II was released in April 1999, and Crimson Empire III wasn't released until October 2011.
So I guess it did hit the stands in late fall, just late fall 12 years later.
I wonder how that bodes for the story if it was stuck in production hell for 12 years.

Score : 7.5/10

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