Star Wars has officially kicked-off the war between The Sith and Crimson Dawn, the criminal syndicate from Solo: A Star Wars Story, which has been resurrected in the era of the Rebellion as its own “secret empire” run by Lady Qi’ra. Well, after working for Maul for a time, Qi’ra learned enough about the dark side and Sith to set a lofty goal for herself: striking at the true heart of the Empire: its Sith rulers, Darth Sidious and Darth Vader. Qi’ra enacted a multi-pronged plan to find means to take out the Emperor using some ancient Force artifacts – but her greatest advantage of her (anonymity) is now gone.
(WARNING: Star Wars: Crimson Reign SPOILERS Follow!)
In Star Wars: Crimson Reign #5 we get to the pivotal moment where Emperor Palpatine finds out that Crimson Dawn is out there, and making moves against them. Palpatine is actually one of the last to know: Crimson Dawn had embedded its agents at every level of the Empire – going so far as to show their ability to get to the Emperor by poisoning his entire Crimson Guard – all at once. Qi’ra also had the Knights of Ren brazenly pull a heist from Vader’s castle on Mustafar, all so she could get her anti-Sith prize before Palpatine put all the pieces together.
In Crimson Reign #5, Emperor Palpatine indeed pieces together that the castle heist, the loss of one of his best hunter fleets, and the Hutt Clan’s (brief) insurrection against the Empire, are all the work of Crimson Dawn. Palpatine further learns of Qi’ra, and Vader’s previous fight with Qi’ra (during “War of the Bounty Hunters” and the auction for Han Solo’s carbonite body) revealed that she was trained by a Sith lord – who Palpatine discerns would be Maul . The Sith now know everything they need to know about Qi’ra – except where to find her.
While Palpatine and Vader are getting up to speed, Qi’ra is making movies. She has The Knights of Ren and mysterious Archivist unite to take their stolen plunder from Vader’s castle to an ancient site for a Tomb Raider-style quest. The Knights suffer some big (but canon-required) losses, but the quest is successful: The Archivist gets hold of an ancient Sith artifact that can presumably hurt Sidious in some way. To buy herself time, Qi’ra enacts the plan she’s been building since she knows a ticking clock was overhead: activating every single agent of Crimson Dawn across the galaxy to strike at – or disrupt – the Empire wherever possible.
The final arc of this story will be “The Hidden Empire” which arrives in starwars comics this fall. The Crimson Dawn saga has been an exciting retcon of canon, both making better use of Qi’ra and Crimson Dawn and fleshing out a whole new side of how the Rebel Alliance was able to do anything from saving Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt to taking down the Empire. It will be interesting to see if Star Wars comics creators keep these elements in play beyond this era of story – or clean it all up with a nice easy bow of continuity cut-off.
Star Wars: Crimson Reign is now on sale from Marvel Comics.