Canon Review: Shattered Empire by Greg Rucka

Star Wars: Shattered Empire (4 issue mini-series)

Written by Greg Rucka

Art by Marco Checchetto and Andres Mossa

 

Timeline:

During and 3 months after climatic moments of Return of The Jedi.

The Saga:

Following the events of the Battle of Endor, the victorious Rebel Alliance discovered they would have little time to celebrate as the surviving members of the Empire showed no signs of giving up the fight to destroy the Rebellion and any displays of defiance on their remaining strongholds.

Shara Bey, an ace A Wing pilot, is revealed to have been a supporting character in the climatic moments of the Battle of Endor. Not only was Shara a pilot providing cover for Lando Calrissian and Nien Nunb’s run into Death Star II, she was also witness to Luke Skywalker’s escape from the Death Star in the Lambda class T-4A shuttle. Shara’s husband, Kes Dameron, also took part in the Battle of Endor as a member of Han Solo’s special forces Pathfinder team that deactivated the Death Star II shields.

After discovering a leftover Imperial stronghold on the far side of the moon, Han Solo organized an assault on the base using the Pathfinders with Shara as their pilot. Infiltration of the base revealed troves of data relating to continued Imperial plans.

On the Star Destroyer Torment, Captain Lerr Duvat learned via one of Emperor Palpatine’s Messengers that he was to implement the Emperor’s final plan, Operation: Cinder.

Following a battle to liberate Cawa City from Imperial forces on Sterdic IV, Shara admitted to fellow pilot, L’ulo, that she was worn down from the battle and has not spoken frequently with her father, son, or husband, who had been called out on a Pathfinders mission on the Outer Rim with Han Solo. To offer Shara a chance to catch her breath, L’ulo had her assigned to some “light duty” to consist of flying Princess Leia to a diplomatic mission directed by Mon Mothma.

The diplomatic mission to Naboo resulted in Queen Soruna agreeing to participate in the New Republic senate. During the visit, Duvat arrived with the Torment and began releasing weather changing satellites over Naboo. These satellites created devastating hurricanes that began to destroy parts of Theed. Naboo was long thought to have been demilitarized by Emperor Palpatine, but Soruna admitted that a special wing of the palace was sealed following the invasion of the Trade Federation in Episode I. The sealed wing is none other than the site of the legendary battle between Sith lord Darth Maul and Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Leia could still feel the dark side presence of a Sith in the hanger. Shara, Leia, and Soruna piloted the antiquated N-1 Starfighter ships in a classic TIE fighter dog fight high above Naboo.

Meanwhile, on the Outer Rim, Han Solo’s attack on an Imperial Security Bureau black site revealed the motives of Operation: Cinder were to wipe out Naboo, Burnin Konn, Cadovant, Abednedo, and Commenor amongst others. While Leia proved her previously unknown piloting skills high above Naboo, Lando Calrissian arrived with the Rebellion’s fleet just in time to destroy The Torment and save the day.

While it became clear that there would be no end of hostilities in sight, Kes and Shara both submitted their paperwork to leave the Rebellion, but not before Shara was pulled into one last mission by R2-D2. Shara accompanied R2 and Luke Skywalker to Vetine to recover two branches of a force sensitive tree that once stood in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. With Shara disguised as Commander Alicia Beck, Luke and R2 were able to gain access to the inner most security lab to see the branches. However, at the last moment, the commanding Imperial officer foiled the crew’s cover. The Rebels escaped and Luke killed the attacking Stormtroopers and Commander by redirecting their grenades.

Afterward, Shara and Kes planted one of the two trees, seemingly having mustered out of the Rebellion.

From A Certain Point of View (The Review):

While Greg Rucka’s stories have been widely acclaimed as being one of the best in the new canon, I cannot help but feel that this mini series fell short of expectations. Shattered Empire was announced as a part of the Journey to the Force Awakens series, which promised to flesh out some of the events between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Instead, we are introduced to two new characters in Shara and Kes whose only purpose seems to be legitimizing Poe Dameron’s role in The Force Awakens. Shara displays a Forest Gump like ability to be accidentally roped into adventures with the universe’s most famous Rebels. Kes’ involvement in the story seems only to serve as a love interest for Shara and a future father figure for Poe. While I would not have expected this series to comprehensively explain the state of the universe, I do think this is a missed opportunity to move the greater saga narrative along. If a Saga film moves the narrative a mile, this mini series moved it an inch. Checchetto’s artwork is really the centerpiece of this series. His comic book renderings of the Saga characters are spot on. The dramatic splash page in issue #1 depicting Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker’s battle in the Emperor’s throne room is worth the price of admission alone.

Holocron (How Does This Affect The Greater Canon?):

As mentioned above, the greater Saga narrative does not progress much in this series. We discover the Imperials did not plan to go gently into that good night following Endor. The Operation: Cinder orders given by the Emperor via The Messenger mean Palpatine may still influence the state of the galaxy from the grave. How many Imperial holdouts know what really transpired on the Death Star and who oversees this shattered empire? These are questions that have yet to be answered.

Princess Leia’s work seems to never be done as she immediately jumped from Rebel fighter on Endor, to surprising fighter pilot, to chief diplomat. It will be interesting to see what her role was in organizing the New Republic in the years to come.

One small detail to not overlook: Leia was able to sense the presence of a Sith lord in the Nubian hangar decades after the invasion of Naboo. Is this a newly discovered power for Leia? Perhaps this is how her Force sensitivity will manifest itself in the new canon.

Characters of Interest:

Shara Bey

Kes Dameron

Poe Dameron (mentioned only)

Commander Alicia Beck (mentioned only)

L’ulo

Queen Soruna of Naboo

Chewbacca (cameo)

Emperor Palpatine (cameo)

Han Solo

Princess Leia

Luke Skywalker

Mon Mothma (cameo)

Lando Calrissian (cameo)


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