STAR WARS: SHATTERED EMPIRE
Before the Awakening
released 17 November Publisher marvel Comics
Writer Greg rucka
Artists marco Checchetto,
angel Unzueta, emilio laiso
The Star Wars Expanded Universe is gone for good, and since early 2014, Lucasfilm’s new, more cohesive story canon has been largely keeping to the period between Episodes IV and V (especially in Marvel’s current Star Wars and Darth Vader ongoing comics). However, with The Force Awakens about to arrive in cinemas and lots of questions to be answered, they’re now starting to give us our first proper glimpses of what came after the events of the original trilogy.
To fulfil this role there’s a publishing campaign, not-sosnappily titled Journey To Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We’ve already had Chuck Wendig’s post-Episode VI novel Aftermath. Now Marvel gets in on the act with four-issue miniseries Shattered Empire, now collected together as a graphic novel.
The story kicks off at the climax of Return Of The Jedi, in the midst of the battle to destroy the second Death Star. We’re soon following the life of daring Rebel pilot Shara Bey, who’s also the mother of Force Awakens character Poe Dameron. Her husband Kes is a Rebel soldier, but despite the victory on Endor, their lives remain in danger as remnants of the Empire refuse to go quietly.
There are plenty of appearances from the main Star Wars characters throughout the story, and writer Greg Rucka does an excellent job of capturing the right tone, while also giving a strong, hard-edged feel to the story’s military action. It’s a rousing, fast-paced adventure that delivers the kind of high-stakes drama that Star Wars is best at, but it does end up sruggling to make all its elements cohere.
The series arguably tries to fit too much material into its four issues, and between all the main character cameos (including a significant role for Princess Leia), it doesn’t always feel like we get enough of the relationship between Shara and Kes that’s supposed to be the heart of the story. The episodic pacing doesn’t help matters, and the hinted connections with The Force Awakens are vague and perplexing.
Rucka still does an effective job though, while the art (largely done by Marco Checchetto) showcases the expected level of polish, giving the series a mix of emotive drama and epic space action. Shattered Empire remains an entertaining read, but isn’t quite an essential one. Hopefully, any further explorations into the post-Episode VI world will do a smoother job of balancing continuity references and franchise requirements with a fully satisfying story. Saxon Bullock
Checchetto’s work will also be appearing in the upcoming prequel-era miniseries Obi-Wan & Anakin, starting in January.
We’re not sure Harrison Ford’s looked this young since American Graffiti.