Hey folks! We’re getting closer to that moment of geek bliss! Are you excited, or what? I may be going to a closed-screening of The Force Awakens – (courtesy of a coworker, who’s husband’s company is giving its employees a sweet Star Wars Christmas present; I’ve been invited to attend, as one of their guests). Today, though, the international trailer debuted and there were mixed reviews about what was added, what was missing, how the trailer differed from the previous sneak-peeks, etc. I, myself, chose not to view it; I’m content to wait the next month and a half for the whole movie.
But, how about this massive media and product marketing-blitz we’ve seen?! My gods, there are toys, games, books, comics, makeup, cereal, shoes, clothes; hell, I just saw a Death Star waffle maker! – Star Wars is every-flipping-where! But I love it! It’s great to see the old and new fans going nuts over this epic event.
Speaking of comic book tie-ins, Star Wars: Shattered Empire – a ‘Journey to The Force Awakens’ – is now concluded. This 4-part miniseries was published by Marvel, of course; it was written by Greg Rucka, art by Marco Checchetto (and Angel Unzueta issues 002-003), colors by Andres Mossa, lettered by Joe Caramagna, with editing in the hands of Jordan D. White. The graphic novel should hit the shelves on Nov. 17.
Lieutenant’s Log: Emperor Palpatine is dead, Darth Vader is in another plane of existence, the second Death Star has been destroyed and the Galactic Empire has been crushed – or, has it..?
Shattered Empire began during the final moments of the Battle of Endor, introducing readers to Lieutenant Shara Bey and her husband, Sergeant Kes Dameron; both of whom have been an integral part of the Rebel Alliance, since before the Battle of Hoth. In Part 1 Bey and Dameron have pivotal roles at Endor; she is part of Green Squad, while he is on the Forest Moon with Han’s team, bringing down the shield generator. They are briefly reunited, before their duties call them back into action against the Imperial Fleet.
Part II focuses on Shara Bey and Princess Leia; the former (having overworked herself) is given light duty as the latter’s pilot, as Leia is tasked with going to Naboo to beg Queen Soruna’s support in forming a new senate. Kes Dameron is mentioned, but not seen; Shara Bey is basically window-dressing, as she has very little to do in this chapter. The princess is successful, though, in that the queen readily agrees to Leia’s proposals; however, Imperial Forces – in orbit above Naboo – begin ‘Operation Cinder,’ in an effort to annihilate Naboo completely.
Scattered, yet – still willing and able to do the bidding of its dead master, Imperial Forces continue to be a thorn in the Rebel Alliance’s side, thwarting their hopes to end decades of bloody battle. In Part III, Bey and Dameron continue in their assigned duties. Lt. Bey, Princess Leia, and not-surprisingly, Queen Soruna manage to avert a near-catastrophe on Naboo; while Sgt. Dameron accompanies Gen. Han Solo to different Imperial bases and strongholds in an attempt to gather critical Imperial plans, data and secrets from their computer banks.
In Part IV, Bey is tapped by Luke Skywalker, himself, for a quick trip to Vetine – a secretive recovery mission. (I hope we see the significance of all of this in The Force Awakens, ’cause, I’m just stumped – “What’s it all mean, Basil?!”) That said, their mission is a success and the storyline has a nice finish for Lt. Bey and her family.
My Take: I really enjoyed issues 003 and 004; especially Queen Soruna on Naboo, showing herself to be a competent leader of her people; while displaying selfless acts of courage in defending them against the evil machinations of the Empire. Also, it was great to see that Leia’s power in the Force is growing; but – where in the hell did Darth Maul come from, all out-of-the-blue, like he does? A hint of things to come? I liked seeing the softer, more-personal side to Leia, as well; something we didn’t see a lot of in the previous films.
Part III hammers home some major points: the Empire is far from being finished, they have some pretty twisted plans to bring the Rebellion to its knees and, Lt. Bey and Sgt. Dameron are formidable warriors; they’re well-respected and liked by their peers, they are major assets to the Rebel Alliance and, finally – they love each other. They believe in what they’re doing. Respectfully, though, I don’t believe we got to know these characters; what parts do they play in the big picture – other than, maybe being Poe Dameron’s parents? And, while it was nice to see how events played-out after Endor, do we really know anything ‘new’? I mean, the trailers and leaked info for The Force Awakens makes it pretty obvious that the Empire didn’t go quietly into the abyss, and there are always growing pains and plenty of negotiations and strategizing going on when trying to rebuild a new government. So, I’m torn… It was a fun read, as it puts the reader back into that long ago, far, far away galaxy, again: but I came away unsatisfied; wanting something more.
Part VI was a disappointment, as well. Sure, seeing R2-D2 was cool, and we all get a glimpse into how far Luke has progressed (just a mere three-months after the moment his father died); but this secret mission he had them on left me saying: What the hell?! Plus, it left me totally clueless about where Luke goes from there. Is he good, or has he gone to the Dark Side? I guess, we’ll find out soon enough.
Overall: Greg Rucka has done a good job; however…this story could have been fleshed-out over several more issues, than this seemingly rushed 4-part miniseries. We didn’t really get to know the characters, we are left with more questions, than answers, and – in my opinion – we didn’t get what we were expecting. How can you ‘journey into The Force Awakens,’ by seeing glimpses of events that are approximately 31 years in the past (using Return of the Jedi as jump-point)? Shattered Empire is a trope-filled, action-packed, if not, predictable story, but it did have some good moments. If you’re looking to get a feel for what’s coming, though… Move along. These are not the clues we’re looking for. Well, for me, at least.
But, let me tell you what I did like: the marvelous artwork by Checchetto, Unzueta and Mossa! Every single issue left me wanting more! Incredible details, beautiful coloring, fantastic likenesses (of all of the characters), terrific shading and proportion, awesome battle scenes…this miniseries is a real treat, in that regard! I have nothing bad to say; only the highest praise, for a job well-done! Plus, those Checchetto covers are super-awesome! They’re hanging on my wall…
I’m glad I bought the series, I had a great time reading them, and this is one of those times, when the art really ups the quality of a mediocre story. Indeed, it’s the art that bumps my rating up to four stars.
I think I’ll pass on the graphic novel, though.
‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone