“Signal Intelligence just finished decryption on a batch of Imperial transmissions broadcast before what was left of their fleet turned tail and ran. The good news is that they’re in total chaos. The bad news is we’ve got an Imperial holdout on the far side of the moon… Seems no one told them they lost.” – Han Solo
Shattered Empire is the story I have been waiting to read ever since it was announced that the Star Wars canon was being rebooted. It is a four-issue comic book miniseries that takes place after the events of Return of the Jedi, and stars the “Big Three” (Han, Luke, and Leia). It was released as part of the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” series, both in order to generate hype for the new movie and to start bridging the gap between the original films and The Force Awakens.
Shattered Empire was written by Greg Rucka, who also wrote the book Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo Adventure, which is also part of the “Journey” series. With both of these projects, Rucka has proved to be somebody I can trust with doing Star Wars justice, as I have thoroughly enjoyed both of his contributions to the new canon.
The artwork is also very well done. Some of the images take up nearly the full two-page spread, and they are beautifully filled with detail. The thing I like most is that the artist really captures the look of the main characters from the movies. Their likeness is spot on, which is something that is always important to me when reading comics based on movies like this.
This story is exactly what I had hoped the novel Aftermath was going to be; a direct follow-up to Return of the Jedi that followed all of my favorite characters. It takes place immediately following the events of Return of the Jedi–and when I say “immediately,” I mean it.
After a night of celebrating on the moon of Endor, the rebels wake up the next morning and get right back to business. Just because the Emperor was killed and his second Death Star blew up, it doesn’t mean the war is over. Han Solo tells the rebel soldiers that they have picked up an Imperial broadcast and have discovered an Imperial holdout on the far side of the moon. The Imperials are planning a counterattack, so the rebels have to attack them first.
Though the main characters of the original Star Wars trilogy are all featured pretty prominently in Shattered Empire, the main character of the story is a woman named Shara Bey, an A-wing pilot who fought in the Battle of Endor. She is married to a fellow rebel solider named Kes Dameron, and the two of them are the parents of Poe Dameron, who is the guy we see flying an X-wing in the trailers for The Force Awakens. Poe doesn’t make an appearance in this comic, he is only briefly mentioned.
Shara goes with the rebels to the Imperial holdout and pilots their getaway vehicle. The rest of the story focuses on the continuing war in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor, and what it looks like from the perspective of a rebel pilot. The Emperor had some plans that he wanted carried out in the event of his death, and they are causing the rebels a lot of trouble. Han, Leia, and Luke all get their time to shine throughout the story as well, with Leia’s portion of the story being exceptionally cool. I can’t go into much detail without spoiling it, but Leia’s portion of the story made me like the princess at lot more than I already did.
Luke’s portion of the story is a pretty fascinating look at how for he has come as a Jedi. This is the most powerful we’ve seen Luke in the existing canon, and it is very cool to see. It reminded me quite a bit of Matthew Stover’s depiction of Luke in his post-Return of the Jedi Legends novel Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. Any time I can compare something to Matthew Stover’s work, it is a good thing, as he is hands down my favorite Star Wars author.
Another thing I enjoyed that Rucka snuck into the story were little references to other works in the new canon. Luke has Shara disguise herself as Alicia Beck, a commander in the Imperial Security Bureau who we meet in Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo Adventure. One of the rebel pilots also asks a question about Corona Squadron, which is the squadron Thane Kyrell flies with in Lost Stars. These little references are always fun to pick out.
Shattered Empire works more as a little taste of what’s to come, rather than a fully fleshed-out story of it’s own. The conclusion of the series is not satisfying, leaving you with more questions than answers. Overall I would say that it is a good introduction into what will become the post-Return of the Jedi canon, but ultimately that’s all it is–an introduction.
With that said, I really enjoyed this miniseries. It was exactly the kind of story I wanted to see before going in to the new movie, and for that I am glad. I would definitely recommend this to any Star Wars fan, and I think of all the stories in the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” series, Shattered Empire is probably the one I would recommend the most. It is not the best story of the series, but it does the best job of paving the way to the new movie, and it is the only story in the series that shows us what the Big Three are up to after the events of the original trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed it.