Story: Greg Rucka
Art: Marco Checchetto
Colors: Andres Mossa
What They Say:
For the first time in the new Star Wars canon, journey with us into the time after the end of 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 into the chaos of a Shattered Empire.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The opening installment of this four issue miniseries is one that worked very well for me in serving as a bridge with what happened to what’s coming next. With everything wide open after Return of the Jedi through The Force Awakens, the potential for some great stories are definitely there in a wide open universe. What I liked about it is that it gave us a tie to The Force Awakens with one of the main characters parents involved here but also started to serve as some clean-up to other events in the films. While the Emperor was killed and the second Death Star destroyed, there’s millions of Stormtroopers and other Imperial’s out there that have a vested interest in seeing the Empire continue. The Rebels won – but only in cutting off the head. The body still lives.
This installment isn’t exactly scattershot but it works to bring together a few things and hints at some past events yet explored. It moves us a few past the previous installment and has Kes off working with Solo on his mission while Shara is off piloting an array of missions all over the place. Much more so than pretty much any other pilot, something that gets her mixed attention. The book gives us some beautiful action sequences in a city with the A-Wings, AT-AT’s and more going at it, though it feels like it takes up just a touch too much time. The visual quality sells it quite well though with a whole lot of detail and some beautiful color application by Mossa. I’m typically lukewarm on action sequences like this in comics as it just gets a bit drawn out but they really nailed it here.
Where the book really grabs me though is two-fold. The first is that we get Leia, three weeks after the fall of the Death Star, being sent on a diplomatic mission that she’s not terribly eager for. Shara is brought in as her pilot to take her to Naboo to try and persuade the Queen to help restart the Galactic Senate. It’s a great concept that works well because there is so much tied to Naboo, what with the Emperor being from there and the fact that Leia is as well – though she likely doesn’t know it at this stage. We do get a mention of Leia being there before, which may have taken place in a different Star Wars Marvel book, but I can’t remember it. If it hasn’t happened, well, there’s something to look forward to. This little dynamic is one that plays well and lets Leia flex her diplomacy skills a bit.
The other piece of the puzzle is the bookend to this issue and it’s what I’m really excited about. The way the Emperor planned for so much means there are a ton of failsafes going off now that he’s dead. One of those is a revenge element that has instructions going to various Star Destroyer captains and more to exact said revenge. Naboo is naturally one such place and we see the start of Operation Cinder going into effect here. The death of Palpatine is something that has long ranging effects and I love the idea of his influence from beyond the grave having such impact. It makes complete sense and offers a kind of residual threat that can linger and surface in fascinating ways for years of stories to come without feeling old. We’ve already seen some of his secrets surface elsewhere, such as what Lando ran into on his private ship in that miniseries, and I imagine there’s a lot more out there.
Shattered Empire has a galaxy of stories that it can tell and I’m certainly engaged with the choices here. I want to explore the immediate aftereffects of Return of the Jedi but taken into context with the prequels and all that came from there. The story of Shara Bey is also one that I’m enjoying as it adds another strong female character to the lore and binds her in a great way to what’s to come. This installment provides some great connection with the past and sets up for some really exciting potential for what the Empire is going to do now that the Emperor is dead. Those that study history know there are several ways it can play out and all of them are intriguing when set against this backdrop. The team here is doing a fantastic job and I’m already hopeful they’ll get a shot at another arc down the line.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: October 7th, 2015