The second Death Star has been destroyed, but the war is far from over as new threats are found in Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1.
Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 9, 2015
Collected in: Star Wars: Shattered Empire
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.
Shattered Empire #1 picks up in the middle of the Battle of Endor to introduce us to a new character, Shara Bey, who is flying an A-Wing as part of Green Squadron. This squadron, as you may or may not recall, did not attack the Death Star directly, but instead stayed outside to provide cover in the battle against the star destroyers that were devastating the rebel fleet. The leader of the squad famously rammed his ship (apparently unintentionally) into the bridge of the super star destroyer Executor, causing it to crash into the Death Star and be destroyed. While other members of Green Squadron appeared in the movie at various points, Shara Bey is a completely original character who first appears here. She also has a brief encounter with the shuttle that Luke Skywalker steals to escape the Death Star as it is exploding.
This is an action heavy issue, with the majority of it given over to following Shara around the space battle over Endor. As it happens this manages to show off artist Marco Checchetto’s skills at drawing starfighter action sequences, which are kinetic and engaging. The story, as you would imagine, is fairly light as a result of the emphasis on action, but we do get a few key points in here. The main one comes when we introduce Shara’s husband, Kes Dameron, who is a member of the strike team that disabled the shield generator on Endor. The family name “Dameron” is a pretty big hint that we are looking at the parents of the Force Awakens characters Poe Dameron, seen briefly in the trailers flying a modified X-Wing, and it is heavily implied that his parents’ celebration in the wake of the victory over the Empire is also his beginning.
The second half of the issue sees our two heroes joining Han Solo and Chewbacca on an assault of a recently discovered Imperial outpost on another part of the moon. Although Han and Chewie are the more famous characters, the focus remains squarely on Shara. All things considered I think this is a wise choice for the book to make as it is meant to be building towards Force Awakens, which will presumably focus more on the new generation of heroes (of which Poe will be one), and not on the previous. Han and Chewie will certainly have many more adventures for us to read about, but this is not yet one of them. This whole section ends on a cliffhanger as the ground assault team, who we do not see after they enter the bunker, have apparently found something in the bunker that they need to followup on.
As I mentioned above the plot in this issue is fairly thin, but as a character piece to introduce us to Shara and Kes it works well. As has been the case with a lot of the new Star Wars material the focus seems to be on expanding the character base of the universe, rather than continuing to harass the old standbys (though there is certainly plenty of that, too), and that is a nice change of pace. It is possible that Shara and Kes are only going to be around long enough to get Poe into the story, but even that is better than most characters get. As an exercise in idle speculation, if you add their appearance here to a few key phrases from the epilogue of Star Wars: Moving Target (a short chapter-book released last week as part of Force Friday which is well worth the read) there is a heavy implication that these two may not be surviving this mini-series, and that Han and/or Leia will be taking up parental duties on a young Poe Dameron prior to The Force Awakens. Obviously we will have to wait and see what writer Greg Rucka and the Disney overseers have in store, and it will be quite interesting to see what direction they decide to take.
There is a lot to like about Shattered Empire #1, and a few things to quibble about. The story is moving fast since it seems to have a lot of ground to cover, but it is more focused than some of the other tie-in books like Aftermath. The focus here is on characters, and it is a credit to Mr. Rucka that even with so few scenes devoted to character building we have a good sense of who Shara and Kes are and where there relationship is at. I am particularly fond of the contrast between the scene where the rebel pilots are regrouping after the Death Star attack and realizing how few of them made it through it alive, and the celebration with the Ewoks on Endor immediately following that. It manages to grab the highs and lows of the war in just a few pages. It certainly helps, too, that the art is absolutely gorgeous, and will hopefully boost the profile of Marco Checchetto significantly following the completion of this series
At the end of the day Shattered Empire #1 had a tough job of establishing its importance in the new Star Wars lore, and it mostly succeeded. We will have to see next month as the final three issues come out exactly where all this is going, but until then there are plenty of interesting story morsels to chew over. If this is a sign of the quality we can expect moving into The Force Awakens then this is going to be an excellent few months of Star Wars fun.