Star Wars: Shattered Empire
Reviewed: Issue 1
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Format: 4-issue miniseries
The bridge between the original trilogy and Disney’s sequel Star Wars saga is finally here, and it’s looking rather good... For a big chunk of the comics buying public – not to mention Marvel itself – Journey To The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire (to give it its full, ungainly title) is the big one: the year’s most anticipated comic. The Star Wars spinoff empire (ho ho ho) is already going great guns, but this is the first issue of an event book that will join the dots between Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens. You don’t have to be a Sith or a Jedi to see that this is going to be huge.
We start on the Death Star, in the final moments of battle, and a gorgeous, appropriately cinematic spread by Checchetto. Things play out as they should – the superweapon is destroyed, Luke escapes and everyone parties on Endor like it’s 1983. But our main focus this issue isn’t the main characters: it’s with A-Wing pilot Shara Bey and her lover, one Sergeant Kes Dameron.
It’s the day after the night before and, after a brief tryst, the two embark on a mop-up mission to take down a secret Imperial outpost on Endor. What it is that they find there is, frustratingly, saved for #2 (unavailable at the time of going to press).
The most interesting thing about this comic is that its scenes of military action with soldiers, walkers and not a Jedi in sight (a brief cameo by Luke aside), it feels rather like next year’s Rogue One movie, rather than The Force Awakens or Return Of The Jedi.
It’s an assured and entertaining debut issue, if a little light on plot. Its main pull is the identity of Bey’s lover and the question over whether he will survive – something that Rucka plays with amusingly by pointing out how ominous it is when someone says “I love you” before setting off on a dangerous mission. If everything plays into dramatic conventions then the brief, implied sex scene we witness will be the moment that Poe Dameron, Oscar Isaac’s character in The Force Awakens, is conceived. Fine, but it’s not the strongest of hooks.
As in the main Star Wars and Darth Vader titles, the art is clean and kinetic. There’s a furious intensity to the opening battles. Checchetto even manages to make the Ewoks look fierce as they take on some typically useless Stormtroopers.
There’s nothing wildly new here yet, but this is a strong opening chapter. The success of the series will depend on whether Rucka and Checchetto can make this wartime romance believable in the space of just four issues, and whether we get a greater sense of the bigger galactic picture. Will Salmon
You can’t beat a good interstellar dogfight.
Great art makes the familiar fresh again.