Ricky Church with a review of Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire #4…
Concluding the first new-canon comic tale set between episodes VI and VII! • As the Empire Shatters around them, Rebel heroes fight for a better tomorrow! • Greg Rucka (Punisher, Cyclops, Wolverine) and Marco Checchetto (Punisher, Avengers World) take us into the more recent long, long time ago!
With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ final trailer, many fans have pointed out the Original Trilogy’s central hero, Luke Skywalker, is nowhere to be seen. How coincidental, then, that not only is Luke featured front and center on the cover for Shattered Empire #4, but he has a prominent role in the final issue of this miniseries.
It doesn’t take long for the few threads from issue #3 to be resolved as Admiral Ackbar gives a quick rundown of some of the planets the Empire targeted in Operation: CINDER. What was surprising, though, was the information learnt about the Empire’s plan. Or rather, the lack of information. Ackbar implies that while Operation: CINDER targeted over a dozen planets the Rebellion has largely prevented the Empire from fulfilling these operations. The planets that are named are completely new ones as well; they are planets on the Outer Rim that have not been introduced to the canon and seemingly have no importance (if any of these planets have been mentioned in recent Star Wars media that you’ve read please let me know). It’s a little underwhelming to see the Emperor’s posthumous plan had so few, if any, lasting consequences.
While the resolution with that plotline was weak, Shara Bey’s story got a very nice conclusion as she was chosen to go on a mission with Luke Skywalker himself. Their mission may not have seemed as vital as Han’s attacks on Imperial holdouts or Leia’s diplomatic meetings, but it seems it will have some consequences for the new film. After three issues without Luke, it was also very pleasant to finally see some lightsaber action.
Shara handled herself very well during the action sequences, never needing Luke’s assistance during the battle. The only downside is, however, she doesn’t quite have a whole lot of room to develop any further, despite her choice to muster out of the Rebellion with her family at the issue’s conclusion. She’s a great character, but some more time could have been spent better developing her arc. Whereas her pairing with Leia in the previous issues gave them equal chances to standout, Luke takes the focus away from her. Being paired with the saga’s central and larger than life hero took the spotlight off her for the majority of the issue.
That being said, Luke’s implication that the Force seemed to be drawing their families together was a very interesting one. Considering her interactions with Han and Leia in the previous issues, as well as the fact her son Poe Dameron is one of the lead characters in The Force Awakens, its clear this family has some special destiny. I’m very curious to see if the item Luke gives them, as well as the one he took, will come into play at all in the new film. One would think it would have to given the trouble they took to retrieve it, but we’ll see.
Greg Rucka once again nails the characters of this story, especially Luke. He seems just as wise and mature, if not more so, than he did in Return of the Jedi. The only fault is, as mentioned above, the little time spent developing Shara’s character and Operation: CINDER. Marco Checchetto’s art is again outstanding, especially during the fight sequences. However, his depiction of Luke looks a little awkward at times. In some panels he perfectly resembles Mark Hamill, but in others he has the look of a young teenager. One spread in particular gives the air of an anime character. Overall, though, the art is great to look at and, combined with Rucka’s writing, is a worthy send off to their work on Shattered Empire. If Marvel is smart, they’ll do whatever they can to get this pair on another Star Wars title in the near future.