Review by Ian Keogh
Shattered Empire is part of the rebooting of what is and what isn’t canonical in the Star Wars universe, in effect discounting much of what had been issued over decades in books and comics concerning Han, Leia and Luke. We’re told the new material, collectively published under the banner of Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens is what really happened, and further serves to introduce the cast of the films made from 2015 on., although not here.
Greg Rucka was given Shattered Empire to produce, and either he’s unusually restrained or he didn’t care much for the concept, as there’s little in the way of neat plot twists or effective characterisation in what instead becomes a showcase for the terrific art of Marco Checchetto. He’s poured the love into almost every page, and packed in the detail, but never letting it overwhelm the senses. He loves the Star Wars hardware, illustrating the craft beautifully and supplying the full cinematic sweep for battles in space, but he’s equally good with character likenesses.
Ace pilot Lieutenant Shara Bey is Rucka’s connecting point for catching up with the activities of Han, Leia and Luke, as she meets Han and accompanies the latter two on missions. It’s the teaming with Luke that sees Rucka eventually hit his stride, with a nice, humane script that has Luke imparting the wisdom of the Force at the end. In this section, however, it’s Checcheto that’s the star.
Two back-up strips feature. Mark Waid and Terry Dodson’s Princess Leia strip takes place immediately after the Death Star’s destruction. She’s bored, wanting to play a greater role, but the revolution’s plotters are more concerned with keeping her safe as there’s a considerable bounty on her head. It’s the conflict at the heart of a decent opening episode that’s a sampler of a five chapter tale available in its entirety as Princess Leia. After that there’s a reprint of Marvel’s very first Star Wars comic from 1977, as Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin begin their six part adaptation of what was then just a new science fiction film about to be released. It’s been recoloured by Andrew Crossley, but as with other 21st century re-colouring projects from Marvel, it looks slightly more sophisticated than the previous flat colour, but in five years will seem equally dated. Was it worth the trouble? Anyone who’s not read this trip back into pre-history for some while may well be astonished at the sheer amount of words.
There’s a case to be made that the wonder of Chechetto’s art alone makes this a worthwhile buy, and it’s not as if Rucka is poor, just not inspired. Maybe a used copy.