Review: Star Wars: Journey to The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire by Lumberjack Nick Diak

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 This is a spoiler review by Nicholas Diak.

 

Since its announcement, Shattered Empire is the one comic book I’ve been salivating for. While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the majority of Marvel’s other attempts at adding to the Star Wars mythology, finding out what truly happened after the Battle of Endor has been the one thing that’s had me chomping at the bit. And while over the past few years MakingStarWars.net and “Now, This Is Podcasting!” have helped stave my hunger, to finally have meaty pieces of lore like Shattered Empire to munch on is something glorious.

When I first began reading the opening crawl I was a little worried. One of the few things I love about the Star Wars: Princess Leia comic is that it opens moments after A New Hope’s climactic ending giving us something I never dreamed we’d ever get to witness. I had hoped for something similar with Shattered Empire. Upon reading the three opening paragraphs in all of their golden glory though, I feared we were being served 20 pages of reworked scenes from a battle that we’ve already seen five hundred times in ROTJ. The comic’s opening splash page continued this worry as it depicts scenes from that exact battle. 

Another thing I had hoped for (or rather assumed the comic would focus on) were the legacy characters Han, Luke, and Leia post-ROTJ. As the comic continues to unfold we cut from a splash page of Luke fighting Vader, and Han placing the charges in the Imperial bunker to an unknown A-Wing pilot. Now I must say I’m a big believer in Star Wars stories not having to revolve only around the big three, but remember I was starving for information regarding what the big three had been up to since they all sat around singing “Yub Nub” with a bunch of man-eating teddy bears. So I hope you can understand when I say the grumble in my stomach was only growing louder as I neared the book’s halfway point.

Shattered Empire

I read this comic on a tablet and even though I was only halfway through the book, I didn’t have any staples to tell me as such. The final page of a comic book can come seemingly out of nowhere while reading on a tablet. As our unknown A-wing pilot hero helps Luke not be shot down from the Rebel forces while in a “borrowed” Lambda class shuttle, I feared a shot of an exploding Death Star would surely bring the book to a close, and we’d all be left waiting one more month to find out what happened the day after the empire was shattered.

Well, that Death Star exploding splash page never came (which I find a bit odd considering it would have been a fine metaphor for the book’s title), and much to my pleasure instead the book dives right into the subject matter I’d been drooling for. The second half of the book gives us that near seamless connected sequel Star Wars: Princess Leia I gave us as it picks up during that infamous Endor party where roasted stormtrooper was surely the chef’s choice on the menu. Though there’s no shot of the OT heroes off in the background with Lando clapping awkwardly, we do finally get to see that awkward conversation when Han finds out that Lando wasn’t able to keep his promise of “not a scratch” in regards to the Falcon.

So let’s cut to the main course here: the book’s big payoff is when we finally discover that A-wing pilot and her husband’s last name is Dameron. This discovery made me want to go back and reread the first half of the book as this revelation gives it a lot more depth. I don’t have to tell you that Shara (Bey) Dameron is none other than Poe Dameron’s mother who, like her son, is a fighter pilot. I do have to confess that for a split second I thought Kes Dameron might turn out to be a re-renamed Kanan Jarrus as they look similar, but that was just a few seconds of insanity on my part. 

shara-bey-variant-cover-shattered-empire

The book moves on to the following morning with the Damerons waking up from a night that no doubt saw the conception of one third of our new big three, Poe. Now this is total speculation on my part, and maybe this is obvious speculation, but I’m calling it: Kes Dameron’s panels are numbered. In fact, I’m predicting issue two will end with his death leaving the unborn Poe fatherless. Actually the way Han slowly stalks out of the imperial bunker after leaving Shara in the ship worrying I thought for sure Kes was no more. But instead he tells her, with Kes standing behind him, that “it’s not over yet,” driving home that while the Emperor may be dead the Empire is not. 

So, did this book satisfy my long-lived hunger pains? At first, no it didn’t, as it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. That being said, by the time I find myself at the “To be continued…” panel I found my hunger beginning to subside and I was fully onboard. I love how modern day comics take their time to slowly tell a story over a series of issues. The downside is that final panel comes way too soon. I cannot wait until the next course of Star Wars: Shattered Empire is served as I truly believe Greg Rucka has one heck of a good story to tell through Marco Checchetto’s superb art.

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