The Best of the New Star Wars Comics, So Far, PART THREE
To finish off the week, your’s truly (hey, it’s me, Kyle) will share my pick. If you missed the picks of Lady Musashi and Hard Case, make sure to take a look at those. I think the three of us all agree this was a hard choice to make and that we are looking forward to the comic book paved road ahead in 2016 and years to come.
Wow! What a year for Star Wars fans! Not only did we have the first film of the Sequel Trilogy drop, Lucasfilm teamed up with many great writers and artists to give fans of everything Star Wars stories to enjoy. It might not be easy to see now, but I think a few years down the line, fans will look back on most every comic or piece of literature as part of an interconnected universe. Comic fans were especially lucky to be treated to many exciting titles. Some have come and gone, some continue and will most likely be around for a long time. Speaking as someone who spends a great deal of their time looking at and often scrutinizing each detail, I feel the issue that stood out to me the most in 2015 was the first issue of Shattered Empire.
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Marco Checchetto and Andres Mossa
Cover: Phil Noto
Before The Force Awakens hit theaters, fans were treated to a release of stories under the moniker Journey to The Force Awakens. Shortly before the first issue of Shattered Empire was released, a few novels took us into the months and years that immediately followed Return of the Jedi. Shattered Empire #1 dropped us right into the day that followed the Rebel Alliance victory over the Empire.
What struck me the most about this issue was how much nostalgia filled my senses when I opened the first page.
Immediately, I was transported to the first time I saw Return of the Jedi as a child. I remembered the explosions, the dogfighting between Star Destroyers, and John Williams intense score. I remembered the searing clash of lightsabers, as father and son march to a destiny that will ultimately change the galaxy forever. This first page was every chill and thrill I felt as a child. With this first page in the first issue, I felt assured that Star Wars is in very good hands.
Greg Rucka is one of the best out there, whether you are reading Star Wars books or not. Not only is he a great novelist, the man can write a serious comic book when put to the task. Think of any big comic book character, Marvel or DC, and Greg Rucka has most likely written several (or at least one) of their titles. Rucka brings some great stuff to Shattered Empire. He keeps what we love about our old friends alive, while introducing fresh characters whom you feel like you know after the series is finished. There are plenty of great writers out there, but Greg Rucka is exceptional. Scott Snyder is the only person off the top of my head that could have written a story that would rival this one…but it would be pretty impossible to lure the Batman scribe.
Moments like these! We know who’s in the shuttle, but we never knew how close Luke Skywalker came to meeting his end from friendly fire. We never knew there was a shoot out between Rebel pilots and feral TIE Fighters. The first year of the flagship Star Wars comic series takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. As readers make their way closer to TESB I hope we get more instances where we witness pivotal events of the Original Trilogy through a new and/or different character’s eyes.
Meet Poe Dameron’s parents.. Poe played a cocky, likable, brash role in the new trio of characters we were introduced to in TFA. As we get to know his parents, Shara Bey and Kes Dameron, you see the pedigree that adds to Poe’s confidence. The Battle of Endor was also not their first rodeo, so I wonder if they will pop up in other comics, novels, or stand alone films (or even Episode VII and IX). Aside from the Poe related lineage, Shara and Kes present us with humanity of everyday fighters in the Rebel Alliance. They’re not seeking out Jedi Masters or rescuing princesses. They are just trying to do their part in making the galaxy a place where they can live a normal life.
Intimate moments and expressions like this was where Checchetto’s penciling shined. Whether it was a happy moment or not, Shara and Kes always had a subtle expression of uncertainty about their manners. Personally, I expected one or either both of them to be the equivalent of Star Trek’s redshirted ensigns because of the uneasiness in each frame of this issue. I won’t say here whether that turned out to be true of not, but the subtlety of their gaze at each other from reunion to departure gave a new texture of melancholy to the bittersweet victory over the Empire.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Lando and Han popping up for a nice exchange. I always wanted to see the head scratching nervous explanation Lando had to give Han after he promised “not a scratch”. Although we don’t see Luke, and Leia doesn’t even appear, this inaugural issue did just fine with Han showcasing his skills as an officer of the Alliance.
The last frame of this issue said so much. Shattered Empire, as a whole series, covered events months after this as well. We know that the Empire did not go quietly, and the grim, lowered gaze of each figure on this page insure that there will be many more pages of TIE Fighters and Star Destroyers blasting through planets and people who would defy them. It perfectly sets the tone I expected, not only for this series, but for the Sequel Trilogy as well.
Shattered Empire #1 managed to keep me gripped to each page with action, but also let me breathe during quieter moments. The series as a whole is fantastic, but this first issue is one that stuck with me. I thought about it for weeks after I read it, even as the subsequent issues that followed. When Poe Dameron first appeared in the opening minutes of TFA, I remembered the faces of his parents.
As excellent as the series was, it only left me wanting more stories from this period. We have a new Poe Dameron series to look forward to, just around the the corner, but what I’m really hoping for is some more Shattered Empire. Give Rucka the keys to the kingdom of decades between ROTJ and TFA, along with all the stories that could be told. With the number of excellent issues in new Star Wars comic series as there were, it says a lot to me that this issue sticks out to me still. I only hope that the years to come will be just as good as 2015 was to Star Wars fans, especially the comic book reading ones.
If you are a Star Wars fan looking for more at the moment, you need not hesitate to head down to your local comic shop and be greeted by some of the finest storytelling of a galaxy far, far away.