Synopsis: For the first time in the new Star Wars canon, journey with us into the time after the end of Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi! Writer Greg Rucka (PUNISHER, WOLVERINE, Gotham Central) and artist Marco Checchetto (AVENGERS WORLD, PUNISHER) take us past the destruction of the second Death Star – and into the chaos of a Shattered Empire. It’s the explosive lead-in to this winter’s blockbuster big-screen Star Wars revival, and everything you need to know is right here!
COLLECTING: JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS – SHATTERED EMPIRE #1-4
Star Wars: Shattered Empire, by Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto 7.75
‘Shattered Empire’ is a direct follow-up to ‘Return of the Jedi‘. Though it begins in the latter stages of the Battle of Endor, providing us with the perspective of some of the fighters involved in the space melée, this story is about the aftermath of the Rebellion’s destruction of the second Death Star and its defeat of Emperor Palpatine.
But not the Empire itself.
Interestingly, the focus here is not our heroes from the original trilogy, though they are large participants: Instead, our lead is Shara Bey, a pilot in the Battle of Endor (and Poe Dameron‘s mother!), as she assists Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker on their respective missions. She is a tireless warrior who has earned much respect.
Though I found the space battles a bit difficult to follow at times, I liked the way that this book (which was originally published as a four-part mini-series) introduces us to the character, her partner Kes Dameron, and her peers. Her personality is pretty well established given that much of the book is action-orientated; there’s a nice balance.
We feel her relief when she sees Kes for the first time in ages, feel her powerlessness when she worries that Kes main be in danger on a separate mission, and sympathize with her when she wishes that she would like for her family to be reunited someday. Given this, her total commitment and devotion to the cause makes her rather heroic.
So I like Shara. And I enjoyed the book.
But, of course, I have reservations:
- Having Shara, Leia and the Naboo Queen be the only available pilots against the Imperial forces left me incredulous. I mean, I love that they worked together – I have no issue with that. But I wish that Rucka had found a better justification to group them than: “Oh, you’ve got piloting training, too, and no one else in all of Naboo does”. Seriously, the Naboo Queen just so happens to have had the training recently. Pull the other one: Um… who trained her, then, if she’s the only person on all of Naboo?
- Also, just because our trio destroyed the satellites that were currently wiping out Naboo doesn’t mean that the Empire doesn’t have more in store. Why would they send their whole reserve? It’s a poor conclusion on the ladies’ part (courtesy of Rucka, obviously – not because they’re ladies). Just sayin’.
- The worst of it comes as Shara is recruited by Luke to go to Vetine to steal back some Jedi artifacts that the Emperor had hidden away. The plan is a complete mess: Luke gets her to dress as an Imperial Commander, giving her that person’s ID, but no make-up to make her look the part. He also doesn’t even do enough background work to realize that the real Imperial Commander has a fake eye. Doh!
Naturally, the Imperial base Commandant picks up on this, but pretends he doesn’t until the very last minute – after he’s brought Luke and Shara all the way into the most secure part of the base (so secure, in fact, that only he and the Emperor have access to it!). SO dumb. As if he’d jeopardize his base’s security like that.
Unsurprisingly, Luke and Shara outmaneuver him and his horde of Stormtroopers (wasn’t the Commandant concerned about the damage the Troopers would cause to this high-security area?) and leave with what they came for. Duuuuh.
Suddenly they’re using technology we’ve never seen before. It makes you wonder why they didn’t – as it’s quite effective here.
- For instance, why didn’t they use magnetic mines against the AT-ATs before instead of harpoon guns?
- And what about the Empire’s devastating weather-controlling machines? Why weren’t they used before?
- And why would the Emperor send a messenger to relay a recording of him, instead of simply issuing a hologram?
Look, I know it didn’t exist in Lucas’ version of Star Wars, but for continuity’s sake, perhaps the new stories shouldn’t either.
In any event, this mini-series felt more like a proper continuation of the original series than the Thrawn trilogy did (I know, blasphemy!). It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Kevin J. Anderson’s books (trust me, I was pretty eager to gobble up a new ‘Star Wars’ trilogy then!), it’s just that something about their tone seemed a little bit off to me.
Not so here.
I was disappointed with the presentation, though. While the art is simply amazing and the perfect form for this series, it wasn’t clear that the trade paperback was padded with unrelated stories: an issue of ‘Princess Leia’ and an issue of the remastered ‘Star Wars’. The problem is that they’re just teasers – they’re not even complete stories.
You have to get them separately.
So these stories are essentially deceptive product placement. And that felt really cheap to me, like a slap in the face. In fact, I was disgusted by it, truth be told.
I’d give Rucka’s mini-series a 7.75. But I’d give the packaging a 4.0 (and I’m being nice!).
If you pick it up, know what you’re getting.