Before the Awakening is a successor to the young reader Journey to the Force Awakens trilogy of books. Illustrated by Phil Noto (who also illustrated The Weapon of a Jedi, Moving Target, and Smuggler’s Run) and written by Greg Rucka (who also wrote Smuggler’s Run and Shattered Empire), the novel explains what Finn, Rey, and Poe were up to prior to the events of The Force Awakens. It’s divided into three sections, one for each character, and elaborates on their backstories and provides some insight into where each of them are at the start of the film.
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.
It’s not that I don’t like Han. He’s a great character. As a viewer, I appreciate his humor and his cynicism. I appreciate his smuggler with a heart of gold characterization. I appreciate his relationship with Leia and, even more, his relationship with Luke. As an author, I like that he provides shades of gray and an excellent voice. But it’s no secret that Luke Skywalker captured my heart way before Han Solo could ever have a chance, and I never “grew up” to like Han, as many other people did.
So among the three “Journey to the Force Awakens” young reader novels, Smuggler’s Run was the one I was least looking forward to. I saved it for last, even though people said Moving Target would spoil the end. All that said, I still had good expectations for this book.
I was pleasantly surprised, because Smuggler’s Run is an amazing romp, super fun, and has absolutely fantastic characterizations.
Over on starwars.com, Greg Rucka discusses writing Shattered Empire, Marvel’s contribution to the Journey to The Force Awakens project. The first issue of the four-part miniseries will be out September 4, with the trade listed for release November 17.
The comic will span several months after the Battle of Endor and surrounds two new characters, Shara and Kes Bey. A married couple and part of the Rebel Alliance, Shara and Kes soon realize defeating the Empire is going to take much more than killing the Emperor.
Be sure to keep an eye out for our interview with Heather Antos from Marvel, going live today, as she talks some more about what to expect in the series.