Shattered Empire by Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto (with additional art by Angel Unzueta and Emilio Laiso) was a heck of a lot of things. The comic contribution to the Journey to The Force Awakens, Shattered Empire takes place in the weeks following the Battle of Endor and lets readers see what the galaxy is like through the eyes of A-Wing pilot Shara Bey.
At New York Comic Con this year, Greg Rucka revealed that his original pitch didn’t actually involve Han, Luke, and Leia and he asked to rewrite his outline once he saw the Phil Noto teaser image that went on to serve as the cover for the first issue. After hearing this, it wasn’t terribly surprising that Shara had a chance to work with each of our favorite heroes in turn. Given how much I liked her though, I would love to have seen whatever his original pitch was just for kicks.
Shattered Empire is one of those series that I’m glad I reviewed in trade form because it sometimes frustrated me with the wait between issues. While reading on a weekly basis, it felt like there was more to each story that we weren’t getting before jumping into another plot line. Thankfully, reading this as a trade helped lessen this frustration especially with the transition between issues 2 and 3. There did, however, feel like there was a hell of a lot more story to be told about the aftermath of the Empire’s fall. (Pun absolutely intended.) While I definitely enjoyed reading this comic book, I would have loved to see this as an ongoing. There’s just so much we don’t know about this era yet that makes for a fascinating story. Queen Soruna deserves more page time and I’d happily read an ongoing just about Shara Bey and her A-Wing squadron with guest appearances from Sgt. Dameron and the Pathfinders. This is far more uncharted territory than the famous Yavin-through-Hoth timeframe.
One of the most fun things about this book was how it was chockfull of little surprises. The revelation that Shara Bey and Kes Dameron are Poe’s parents was the big shocker of Issue #1 but equally awesome were moments like the panel of Leia standing in the hanger doorway on Naboo with Maul’s face superimposed over her and the anonymous voice wondering what the ewoks were serving. Even little continuity nods like the mention of Burnin Konn were nice to see. It will likely be rather entertaining to go back and reread this series once The Force Awakens is released and see what other tidbits were hidden here.
The trade itself got padded out in order to justify the $16.99 price point. In addition to the four issues, it also includes Princess Leia #1 and the 1977 Star Wars #1 (the recolored version.) Personally, I would’ve preferred a version of the book with a lower price point and without the filler material. (Or the same price point and another issue…) That said, the inclusion of these issues isn’t for comic readers like me and is clearly intended to intrigue those who haven’t been picking up the other books. It’s not something I’m inclined to get upset about.
Overall, Shattered Empire is an engaging read with very pretty artwork. While the brevity of the series was frustrating and left me desperately wanting more from some of the storylines, the awesome of the Luke issue made up for it. Rucka is certainly a great person to be writing Star Wars comics and I’ll just have to cross all my fingers and toes for more of Shara Bey.