Review: A Haunting Tale of the Force in Marvel’s Crimson Reign #3

Hopefully, you’re in the mood for a history lesson, because Charles Soule’s latest issue in Crimson Reign is a trip back to the classroom. Crimson Reign #3 spends its time reframing Qi’ra’s plight to unseat the Sith through the eyes of its storyteller, the mysterious Archivist. We learn the backstory of one Madelin Sun before she became the chill-inducing figure we’ve known thus far, and how she came across another green friend we all know and love.


Spoilers ahead…



The whole issue takes place before Crimson Reign #1. We start before Order 66 where Madelin Sun is a professor at the famed University of Bar’leth, otherwise known as the very school Doctor Aphra once went to.  While she studied the light side of the Force, the dark side was her specialty, which even in a time before the fall of the Republic, was welcome. However, after Order 66, Sun’s life changed. She lost her job and became just a lowly merchant who’s lost everything, including her reason to be happy.


Before we go any further, one thing I’ve loved so far about Crimson Reign is how each issue draws on the other ongoing comics. It really started in issue #2 when it took the ball and felt like a Bounty Hunters story. Now, issue #3 is pulling in elements from the stories within Doctor Aphra. It’s these subtle tie-ins and nods in this Crimson Reign era that we needed more of during War of the Bounty Hunters. Event series are supposed to want to make you buy everything, but each issue needs to be worth buying, and Soule is preserving that notion.



One night, Sun is confronted by stormtroopers. They conduct a search of her shop and find alleged contraband. Sun can’t stop them, but Qi’ra can. She saves Sun and immediately goes into trying to recruit Sun for her plans down the line. The conversation starts with Qi’ra talking to Sun about her past exploits and how valuable Sun would be as Crimson Dawn doesn’t know the Force.


The conversation shifts when Qi’ra asks why Sun is forbidden to study the Force and why the Force has disappeared in the galaxy. Madelin proceeds to tell the story of the final days of the Jedi. The story begins with just how prominent they were, only to be eradicated so suddenly.



Once that happened, the Empire sought to vanquish any mention of the Order and twist what the Jedi once were known for. Emperor Palpatine created fear throughout the galaxy and used the Jedi as that fear to erase their memory. Qi’ra finishes it off with the one element of the story Sun doesn’t know, that Emperor Palpatine is a Sith lord. Sun realizes that her life wasn’t just lost when the Empire took over.



I must say that while Steven Cummings’ art depicting a once vibrant galaxy go dark is great, it’s a beat we’ve seen before. This stretch was a rare miss from Soule. In a series with a lot of dialogue already, the pace of the issue slowed to a crawl in just this 3-page spread. Despite this series being dense, Soule wrote the first two Crimson Reign issues with deliberate pacing so that you are never taken out of a scene. I was taken out here.


Despite the lull, the issue gets back on track. Qi’ra tasks Sun with finding Yoda, who Qi’ra believes is still alive. Qi’ra goal is to recruit Yoda into her cause. One panel that struck me immediately during Qi’ra pitch is an old panel from Soule’s Darth Vader comics, a panel that confirms a scene from The Book of Boba Fett indeed was not a retcon.



Chapter 6 saw Luke Skywalker offer Grogu a choice, Yoda’s lightsaber or Din’s gift. The question canon junkies raised was how that could be Yoda’s lightsaber when the comics already melted down his lightsaber? Enter Occam’s razor. Yoda just had multiple lightsabers. As far as what came first, and if Soule wrote this in after learning of the events of The Book of Boba Fett as behind-the-scenes timelines can be warped, we’ll never know.  Either way, this debate can be over.



Sun begins her investigation into the whereabouts of Yoda. Crimson Dawn’s influence grants her records of all kinds, including eyewitness accounts of Yoda and Obi-Wan’s stealth mission into the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Also on record is the Tantive III and the likely scenario that Bail Organa ferried Yoda off of Coruscant that night the Empire was born. Knowing Bail is dead, she seeks out anyone still alive which leads her to…



Doctor Aphra‘s Accresker Jail. Before the rogue archaeologist brought the jail to its destruction in glorious fashion, it housed Jeremoch Colton, Bail Organa’s old pilot. Sun uses another Aphra holdover, a thought dowser, to get information out of Colton leading Sun to the Sluis Sector, which Dagobah is a part of. Colton is a very deep cut from Revenge of the Sith which is always appreciated, and it definitely would not have been on my bingo card to ever see him again.


Madelin Sun has reached her destination. While not able to use the Force, she senses Dagobah in all of its glory. She’s attacked by one of Dagobah’s many creatures before finding that cave. She enters because it’s who she is. Her never-ending quest for knowledge compels her, and like those we have seen before her, she comes out a different person.



Sun decides to leave Dagobah, reconciling with how she views the Force. She focused more on the dark side, as it seems more realistic to her. The dark side painted a better picture of who we are, while the light side was a way for people to feel good about themselves. Whatever she saw in the cave shifted that. The light side isn’t just the path for people to follow and brag about, it’s the path for people to aspire to what they could become. As Sun leaves, we get our only real glimpse of Yoda.



The issue closes with Sun relaying to Qi’ra that Yoda is dead. It’s obviously a lie, and we’ll have to see where the Archivist goes from here. However, despite the mission changing her outward appearance forever, she found her happiness again which is all that matters to her.



Crimson Reign #3 is a tough read. It’s not as grandiose as the prior issues, and the dense dialogue can be overwhelming. Instead of following in the vein of the first two issues, Soule chooses to weave a different sort of tale. The Archivist’s backstory is equal parts captivating and haunting. At the end, I felt like I needed a cold shower, and Soule managed to give me that shower with his injection of hope. No matter how Crimson Reign ends, the Archivist has a new lease on life. Add in all of the easter eggs and Crimson Reign #3 is another notch in the belt for Charles Soule. Cummings’ art continues to work wonders for the tone Soule has set for this entire series. The stakes will do nothing but heighten heading into the final two issues. Get on the ride now if you aren’t already on.


RATING: 7/10



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Nate uses his love for Star Wars and movies in general as a way to cope with the pain of being a Minnesota sports fan. When he's not at the theater, you can usually find Nate reading a comic, listening to an audiobook, or playing a Mario video game for the 1,000th time.

Nate Manning

Nate uses his love for Star Wars and movies in general as a way to cope with the pain of being a Minnesota sports fan. When he's not at the theater, you can usually find Nate reading a comic, listening to an audiobook, or playing a Mario video game for the 1,000th time.