I pity anyone who’s given himself or herself a New Year’s resolution to buy fewer comics. In a world that has now seen the release of the seventh Star Wars film, there is a horde of comics with elegant covers that are so easily desirable. Star Wars Shattered Empire is a perfect reason why anyone who’s resolved to buy fewer comics will have failed miserably.
As always, readers are lured in by a timeless cover on the debut issue, replete with the revered classic cast of rebels and scoundrels, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, C3PO, R2D2 and Lando Calrissian (cover artist Phil Noto even threw in a trio of Ewoks to guarantee a nostalgic response). The theme of relative familiarity continues within, with the infamous yellow-on-black title crawl taken straight from the films followed by a dramatic scene from The Return of the Jedi.
Greg Rucka’s words do well to remind readers that this isn’t necessarily a story about the core characters we’ve mentioned earlier. There’s a definite military flavour to the action on the page, and we quickly learn that the story’s focus is on lesser-known peripheral character Lieutenant Shara Bey, who, despite being a capable resistance pilot seems vanilla plain, until she interacts with her husband Sergeant Kes Dameron. Just reading the name Dameron on the page is enough reason for anyone who’s watched The Force Awakens to throw their support behind the characters, which might leave some to theorise that some sort of tragedy lies ahead for this comic’s main lead.
Shattered Empire could easily be termed as non-essential reading, simply because its activities take place on the periphery of the action of the Star Wars films. That being said, the book is fun reading, with the practiced hands of Marco Checchetto, Andres Mossa, Angel Unzueta and Emilio Laiso offering images that warrant a second or third look. The story takes a page from classic Star Wars storytelling, with a number of parallels to the beloved original trilogy, as well as to the seventh film in the franchise, in the shape of a main character that seems relatively unremarkable at first glance. Shara parallels Luke and Rey – all characters who seem to exist on the sideline of the more crucial aspects of life in the galaxy.
Another parallel we can notice is the presence of strong female leads. Princess Leia, and even Queen Soruna both make bold choices within the story, while Shara herself is honest and hardworking, choosing not to take credit for what she believes is simply doing her job. Whether this is just a position that Disney has forced Marvel to pursue and illustrate is an entirely different question altogether, but certain panels in this story certainly make me wonder. Meanwhile, on more than one occasion, it appeared as though some missing sound effects undersold the action on the page, or perhaps I’m just being too nitpicky.
Star Wars: Shattered Empire – Journey to The Force Awakens doesn’t seem to answer any pertinent questions that would follow on from watching episode 7 but wasn’t this to be expected? Post-reading, the comic’s subtitle couldn’t have been more appropriate, and with the spotlight on galactic dog fights, the daily military ins and outs and activity spread across a range of locations and settings, this sprawling four-part series is told very much in the flavour of traditional star wars stories and makes readers curious about what the other mini-series on offer have to reveal about what happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Writer – Greg Rucka
Art team – Marco Checchetto, Andres Mossa, Phil Noto, Angel Unzueta, Emilio Laiso,