Shattered Empire #1 (of 4) – Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This is a Star Wars Review of the first issue
of Shattered Empire published by Marvel Comics on September 9, 2015. This series is written
by Greg Rucka with art by Marco Checchetto. Just a heads up, this episode contains spoilers. Fans have been getting their Star Wars fix
through the main series and spin-offs since January, but this is a new series. What’s
special about this mini-series is that it kicks off right from the final moments of
Return of the Jedi; you could almost say that fans have been waiting for this for the past
32 years since Episode VI was first released… sort of. Before I dive into this issue, I think it’s
important to note that there are few recent changes to the way the Star Wars stories exist
within the Star Wars Universe. Up until 2012, all officially licensed Star
Wars material was part of what was known as the “Star Wars Expanded Universe.” Following
The Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, it was announced in early
2014 that all previously released “Expanded Universe” content would be now fall under
the new banner of “Star Wars Legends” and would not be considered canon with the
movies. Whether or not you loved the Expanded Universe,
Disney changed the lore of Star Wars overnight. In particular, this had a large effect on
the comic books. For over two decades Dark Horse had the license
to publish Star Wars comics. But likely due to Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Entertainment
in 2009, the right to publish was now in Marvel’s hands as of 2015. These new ongoing Marvel
stories would take place within the film universe. Earlier this year Marvel released the first
issues of Star Wars, and following that a few new Star Wars spin-off series. Spin-offs
included stories that followed Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Kanan Jarrus, and Lando Calrissian…
and going forward we’ll see even more new comics that follow Chewbacca, C-3PO and more. That brings us to today’s issue. For the
first time, Shattered Empire kicks off a new official history that takes us past the destruction
of the second Death Star and forward. The first few pages depict the Battle of Endor
and then it moves on from there. As far as our cast, the principle characters from the
original trilogy are present, but we only catch quick glimpses of them. They’re there
in the background, but this story doesn’t focus on them. Our protagonist is a rebel
A-Wing pilot named Shara Bey. Right from the get-go, the reader is thrust into battle with
her above Endor. As the panels move along, veterans of the
rebel alliance are finally seeing an end to the war, only to have that realization crushed
by new developments. While you get a sense of happiness of war coming to an end, there
also seemed to be an urge for Shara and her husband to jump right back into battle as
soon as they received the call up. Now, I haven’t mentioned Shara’s husband
yet, Kes Dameron. If you’re up to date with film casting news, Oscar Isaac is playing
one of the main characters in the Force Awakens; his character’s name just so happens to
be Poe Dameron. Simply knowing this piece of information along with the fact that the
new film takes place 30 years after this issue, I believe these are Poe’s parents. I’m
also getting a sense that this 4 issue mini-series will end in tragedy for the family. This is pure speculation, but I think once
it’s revealed that Shara is pregnant, the emotional core of this story will focus on
their fight to save their future child. We don’t have any confirmation of this, but
so far the Marvel Star Wars comics have played it pretty safe and this seems like a safe
bet. Now for the art. The art in this is on another
level. There is so much detail and Marco Chechetto has done an amazing job of making this feel
like you’re watching a movie. The colors fit the tone of the older movies; the landscapes
of space and the forest are absolutely beautiful; the faces also looked natural, but not hyper-realistic
like the first few issues of the regular Star Wars run. Marco is really good at using the
page as much as possible, and making the panels play nice with one-another. Particularly,
the opening two page spread is awesome. Seriously, the artists knock it out of the park in this;
it’s so cinematic and I’m looking forward to the next issue just for the artwork alone. As far as new information goes, not a lot
happened. There were a few nice moments like Han arguing with Lando over busting up his
ship and Luke battling Darth Vader, but they were very careful to not over-deliver on fan
service or give too much of “The Force Awakens” away. It really feels like the issue was just
warming us up to what is about to unfold. Unfortunately, this is a run of only four
issues so we’re a quarter of the way there already. Sidenote: if you want to read this before
the movie, you can wait until November 18 for the trade paperback edition and catch
up with the story before the release of “The Force Awakens” in December. That will probably
save you a few bucks as well. Overall, this was okay; it stoked the fire
in me for more Star Wars story. Don’t expect this first issue to reveal a ton of details
leading up to Episode VII; that being said, it’s still fun to see the sliver of progression. That wraps it up for the first in a series
of Star Wars discussions. I’ll be releasing these every Thursday going forward, as long
as Marvel publishes new issues. Be sure to subscribe to keep up to date, and like the
video if you’d like to see more.

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