- "When you're young and you see [Return of the Jedi], you can look at the happy ending and go, 'Hey, it's over!' But you get older and you start to think about it, and you realize, no it's not. It's not over at all."
- ―Greg Rucka
Star Wars: Shattered Empire, also known as Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Shattered Empire, is a four-issue comic book miniseries created by writer Greg Rucka and artists Marco Checchetto and Andres Mossa. It is a part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens publishing program, and it was published by Marvel Comics between September 9, 2015 and October 21, 2015, to positive reviews.
The series is set immediately after the events of the 1983 film Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, and it explores the galactic implications of Emperor Palpatine's death in the Battle of Endor. The four issues focus on Rebel pilot Shara Bey; her husband, Kes Dameron; and a cast of supporting characters, including Star Wars original trilogy heroes Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo.
Emperor Palpatine's twenty-year reign of terror came to an abrupt and fiery end in the skies above the forest moon of Endor. A decisive victory for the Rebel Alliance, to be sure, but even with the loss of its leadership, the Empire's Moffs and regional governors retained their hold on important systems from the Core to the Outer Rim, thanks to the might of the Imperial Starfleet. Now, with a power vacuum atop the Empire, those Moffs will jockey for position and control, and the heroes of the Rebel Alliance will soon discover that a wounded and fractious Empire may be more dangerous than any threat they faced before! For the first time in the new Star Wars canon, journey with us into the time after the end of Return of the Jedi!
In the year 4 ABY, the Battle of Endor rages as the Alliance to Restore the Republic engages the Galactic Empire in a desperate attack on the Death Star II. While Alliance Pathfinders on the forest moon attempt to disable the space station's deflector shield generator, the Alliance Fleet frantically buys them more time, facing off against Imperial starfighters. Among the Rebel starfighters are the RZ-1 A-wing interceptors of Green Squadron, including Rebel pilot Shara Bey, who worries for her husband Kes Dameron, a Pathfinder on the moon below. As the Rebel pilots suffer losses, the Death Star's shields are brought down, and Green Squadron launches its attack on the battle station. With other pilots of Green Squadron, Bey screens Gold Leader Lando Calrissian on his attack run.
With Calrissian escorted to the Death Star, Bey watches for evacuating Imperial starships, spying a Lambda-class T4a shuttle escaping the station. As Bey moves to intercept the shuttle, she is called off by Commander Luke Skywalker, who reveals he is piloting the commandeered Imperial vessel. While Skywalker makes a run for Endor, Bey covers him from attacking starships. Clear of enemy fighters, Bey tells Skywalker, "May the Force be with you." Soon after, the Death Star explodes—a result of Calrissian's attack—marking a decisive victory for the Rebel Alliance.
Regrouping aboard a Rebel starship, Bey approaches Lieutenant L'ulo L'ampar—a Duros pilot and the recently field-promoted leader of Green Squadron—requesting permission to join the celebration on the forest moon. L'ampar, aware that Bey is concerned for her husband, allows Bey to shuttle to the surface. As the Rebels celebrate with the native Ewok population, Bey searches for Dameron. Bey locates Pathfinder General Han Solo, who is talking with Calrissian, and she asks where the team is. Solo directs Bey to one of the village huts, and Calrissian compliments her piloting skills.
When Bey arrives in the Ewok hut, she is reunited with Dameron, and the two go for a walk. From the Ewok village, Bey and Dameron watch fireworks, discussing the unlikely victory, and future. Bey and Dameron express their feelings for each other, and they kiss. The following morning, Dameron is called by Solo, who is assembling the Pathfinders and reporting that there is an Imperial holdout on the moon's far side. Bey volunteers to pilot the Pathfinder assault craft, and the Rebels—joined by some Ewoks—launch their attack.
The Pathfinders exit the craft, and the Imperial soldiers are quickly overwhelmed. With the grounds clear, Pathfinders rush into the outpost while Bey waits in the assault craft, holding back worry for her husband. Some time later, Solo and Dameron emerge from the facility. Bey greets them, commenting that they had been inside for a while. Solo agrees, explaining that they had discovered lots of Imperial communications and plans, summarizing, "It's not over yet."
Although Emperor Palpatine perished aboard the Death Star, Imperial propaganda prevents word of his death from reaching many worlds. Scattered Imperial forces continue their struggle to retain power, exhausting the weary Rebellion. Aboard the Star Destroyer Torment, Imperial Captain Lerr Duvat is met by "the messenger"—a red-robed sentinel droid bearing a posthumous message from Palpatine. The Emperor's messenger states that Duvat has been chosen for a particular honor: taking part in Operation: Cinder, a contingency plan to destroy the Rebellion. Receiving further instructions, Duvat commands Lieutenant Gulin to set a new course, and the messenger leaves.
Seventeen days after the Battle of Endor, chaos engulfs Cawa City on Sterdic IV as the A-wings of Green Squadron attempt to liberate the Imperial-run metropolis. Bey navigates her starfighter between the legs of an All Terrain Armored Transport, picking off a TIE/ln space superiority starfighter in pursuit of L'ampar. The Duros leads Green Squadron in providing cover for Feral Group, a squadron of BTL-A4 Y-wing assault starfighter/bombers. However, Bey's A-wing is hit by laserfire, and she becomes unable to escape from her assailant. L'ampar arrives to pick off Bey's attacker, and the Y-wing deliver their payload, destroying the AT-AT.
Following the battle, Bey delivers the damaged A-wing to Rebel technician Wiley, before being approached by L'ampar. Bey and L'ampar walk, discussing Bey's recent activities with the Rebellion. L'ampar states that Bey is working too hard, and he asks her when she had last spoken to Dameron or her young son, Poe. Bey states that she had talked with Poe the previous week, but her husband has been on Pathfinder operations with Solo. L'ampar reassures Bey that Dameron is fine, and he tells her that he will find some light assignments to let her rest.
Three days later, Bey arrives at Rebel Fleet Command, assigned to pilot Princess Leia Organa on a diplomatic mission. Bey finds Organa in conversation with Mon Mothma. The Princess is reluctant to leave her duties for the mission, but Mothma insists that Organa's skill and reputation are needed. Bey introduces herself to Organa, and the two board a GX1 short hauler. On board, Organa informs Bey that they will be flying without escort, and they jump to lightspeed, en route to a pre-programmed destination.
The vessel arrives in Theed on the planet Naboo, the homeworld of Palpatine. Bey and Organa are greeted by Governor Donta Gesset, who brings them to Theed Royal Palace to meet with Queen Sosha Soruna. In the palace throne room, Organa asks for Naboo's support as the Rebellion begins its formation of the New Republic. As Soruna agrees to Organa's proposal, Naboo experiences a sudden, planet-wide blackout. Meanwhile, in the planet's orbit, the Star Destroyer Torment places satellites in a climate disruption array as Captain Duvat fulfills the Emperor's command—the scouring of Naboo.
At the Wretch of Tayron in the Outer Rim, Sergeant Dameron and the Pathfinder commandos survey an Imperial Security Bureau black site, preparing to raid the facility. With the assistance of the Mikkian Sakas, Dameron lines up a missile launcher, and upon Solo's command, he fires at his target—an All Terrain Scout Transport. The AT-ST goes down and collapses the compound's wall, allowing the Rebel forces to flood inside. During the fight, Dameron is saved by the Wookiee Chewbacca, and the Imperial forces in the site's perimeter are eliminated. The Pathfinders regroup with Solo, and with the encryption-breaking protocol droid C-3PO, they enter the base.
Back on Naboo, Captain Korro informs Queen Soruna that the planet is facing powerful storms, with reports of fires and flooding. Bey deduces that Naboo could be under attack by an Imperial remnant. Organa and Bey realize that there must be satellites in Naboo's orbit, which are jamming signals and causing storms. Organa requests ships and pilots, but Korro explains that the planet had been demilitarized years prior. However, Soruna reveals that there may be some starfighters available.
The Queen leads the group to Theed Hangar, which had been sealed off following the Invasion of Naboo. Soruna, Bey, and Korro enter the hangar, discovering N-1 starfighters. While the trio walks through the hangar, Organa stops in the entryway, feeling cold; in actuality, Organa senses Darth Maul, who had fought in the hangar during Naboo's invasion. The group find three starfighters that are still functional, and Bey prepares one for flight. Against Bey and Korro's wishes, Organa and Soruna also decide to fly.
At Tayron, the Pathfinders finish off the Imperial forces, capturing the base's commander. Dameron retrieves the commander's code cylinder, and C-3PO slices into the base computer. Solo tells C-3PO to search for Imperial activity, specifically contingency plans, fleet movements, and counter-insurgency operations. C-3PO quickly learns of Operation: Cinder, and its targeting of multiple worlds. The protocol droid informs Solo of the widespread attack, telling the general that Naboo is one of the targets.
On Naboo, Korro continues Theed's evacuation as Bey, Organa, and Soruna pilot the N-1 starfighters into orbit. Above the planet, the three spot the Star Destroyer Torment, and Bey volunteers to buy time for Organa and Soruna to destroy the satellite array. Organa and Soruna begin destroying their targets, and Bey engages deployments of TIE fighters. As the trio become overwhelmed, the Alliance Fleet—led by General Calrissian—arrives from hyperspace, ending the Imperial threat. After the fight, Organa and Bey return to Rebel Fleet Command at Muster Point: Vergence, where they are happily reunited with Solo and Dameron.
In the year 5 ABY, three months after the Battle of Endor, the war continues. Imperial remnants hurry to fulfill Operation: Cinder, devastating countless Outer Rim worlds with their attacks. At Muster Point: Stalwart, the Rebel Fleet Command gathers aboard Home One to discuss the ongoing operations. Admiral Gial Ackbar informs the Rebels that another dozen worlds, including Burnin Konn, Candovant, Abednedo, and Commenor, have been targeted by the Imperials. General Crix Madine then commends the fleet's services in saving lives, but adds that the enemy is showing no signs of ending the fight. As Bey and L'ampar listen to Madine's update, they grow disappointed.
After the meeting, Bey and L'ampar walk to Home One's hangar. Bey expresses her fear that the war will never end, and L'ampar replies that she should not think that way, otherwise she is "fighting for the sake of the fight." L'ampar notes that Dameron's leave from the Pathfinders had been approved, and the Duros reveals that he had submitted Bey's resignation as well. Bey disapproves, but L'ampar reminds Bey of her family, stating that she should find a world to settle on. As the Duros leaves, Bey accepts his advice.
As Bey watches L'ampar leave, she is approached by the astromech droid R2-D2. The droid leads Bey to another hangar, where she finds Skywalker and an Imperial shuttle. Skywalker informs Bey that he is on a mission to Vetine, where there is something he needs to retrieve. The Jedi asks Bey if she is willing to be his co-pilot, and she agrees to help. Soon after, they enter hyperspace en route to Vetine.
During the flight, Skywalker has Bey don an Imperial military uniform, explaining that she will be impersonating Commander Alecia Beck of the Imperial Security Bureau. Skywalker elaborates on the plan, saying that they will enter an Imperial base using clearance codes obtained in the raid on Tayron, and that the goal is to take back something the Emperor had stolen. Exiting hyperspace, the two land the shuttle at the base, where they are met by Commandant Hurron. Under the guise of Beck, Bey improvises that she is conducting a surprise inspection of the base's labs. When Hurron asks who her companions are, Bey simply dismisses R2-D2 as a droid, and she claims that Skywalker is her security officer.
The commandant leads the trio into the base, bringing them to the lab, which contains an assembly line of sentinel droids. They walk past the room, entering the inner lab, which contains two trees. However, once inside the lab, Hurron has stormtroopers surround the Rebels; he had seen through Bey's persona, revealing that the real Beck is missing an eye. Curious, Hurron asks Skywalker why the trees are special, and the Jedi states that they are the only remnants of the Great Tree which had grown at the Jedi Temple. When Hurron states that the Jedi are extinct, Skywalker reveals his identity, using telekinesis to throw the Imperials.
As Skywalker fights the stormtroopers, Bey grabs the trees, and the two retreat to their ship. When the Rebels reach the ramp of the shuttle, Hurron orders his soldiers to throw thermal detonators. However, Skywalker uses the Force to send the bombs back at the Imperials, killing them. On the return flight, Bey confides in Skywalker, and thinking of her son and husband, she decides to retire. Sometime later, Bey and Dameron plant one of Skywalker's trees outside of their new home on Yavin 4.
- "Shara flies, Kes is a ground-pounder, and a very experienced one. So, they have spent more time apart than together, and they're in the Outer Rim world where the Imperial presence is felt, and they're hoping that they can bring an end to this. But they're both very tired veterans, and they come out of [the Battle of] Endor with the elation that we see in [Return of the Jedi]. 'We've won. It's over.'—only to discover that, no it's not. The Empire was huge."
- ―Greg Rucka
Shara Bey is a lieutenant and pilot in the Alliance to Restore the Republic. She and her husband, Kes Dameron, have a son, Poe, but rarely see him due to the Galactic Civil War. During the Battle of Endor, Bey pilots an RZ-1 A-wing interceptor in Green Squadron and assists in the destruction of the second Death Star, which signals the death of Galactic Emperor Sheev Palpatine. Bey hopes the battle will bring an end to the Galactic Empire and the war, but many engagements follow. At this time, Bey's commander, the Duros pilot L'ulo L'ampar, encourages Bey to retire and spend time with her family. Bey considers his suggestion, and she is assigned work with Princess Leia Organa on the planet Naboo.
When the Empire launches Operation: Cinder and targets Naboo, Bey joins Organa and Naboo's queen, Sosha Soruna, to protect the otherwise defenseless world. Flying into Naboo's orbit, the three hold off Imperial forces until Rebellion reinforcements arrive. Three months later, Bey helps Commander Luke Skywalker in a mission to Vetine, aiming to retrieve two fragments of a Force-sensitive tree. Shortly after the mission, Bey retires from the Rebellion, and she settles into a home on Yavin 4 with her husband.
- "The Empire still has resources. The Empire still has an enormous fleet. They may be in disarray post the Battle of Endor, but to think that in that vacuum people aren't stepping up [is shortsighted]."
- ―Greg Rucka
Star Wars: Shattered Empire was conceived for Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a multimedia initiative to promote the release of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. To write the series, Lucasfilm selected Eisner Award–winning author Greg Rucka, who had previously written the Star Wars junior novel Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure. To illustrate the series, Lucasfilm selected artist Marco Checchetto. During the conception of Shattered Empire, Rucka spent time determining the state of the galaxy post–Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Rucka concluded that the Emperor's death would cause disarray within the Empire, but the power vacuum would create a new drive of Imperial force. For further inspiration, Rucka researched real-world history and dictatorships, citing the Arab Spring, the Eastern Bloc, and North Korea. Rucka also referenced propaganda, stating that even though the Rebellion is proclaiming Palpatine's death, the Empire prevented the message from spreading across the galaxy.
In preparation for writing the series, Rucka re-watched the Star Wars films and also Star Wars Rebels, an animated television show about the Rebellion's beginnings. Throughout Rucka's story pitches, he collaborated with members of the Lucasfilm Story Group, particularly Rayne Roberts, Kiri Hart, Pablo Hidalgo, and Leland Chee. Together, they worked out a variety of topics, including galactic politics. During the meetings, Hidalgo and Chee specifically commented on Imperial forces being unable to retain their full control, forcing them to double down on the fight. This idea was used in the script of Shattered Empire 2, which depicts a fierce battle in the Imperial-controlled Cawa City.
In Rucka's initial pitch for Shattered Empire, he envisioned Lando Calrissian as the protagonist, with a supporting cast of Smuggler's Run characters Delia Leighton, Alecia Beck, and TX-828. Although this story was approved by Lucasfilm, Rucka scrapped the idea after the cover art of Shattered Empire 1 by Phil Noto was revealed at Celebration Anaheim. The artwork depicted the original trilogy heroes in a recreation of the final shot from Return of the Jedi, and Rucka wanted to avoid misleading and disappointing fans. For the new proposal, Rucka decided to write about the parents of Poe Dameron, a character then set to debut in The Force Awakens. The new idea was approved, and the series began production.
When writing the first issue of Shattered Empire, Rucka noted time markers from Return of the Jedi to map out how the comic book would fit into the events of the film. The order of events were verified by Chee, and the time markers were then passed to Checchetto, who illustrated the comic based on the specified frames. Checchetto's illustrations were colored by Andres Mossa, lettering was done by Joe Caramagna, and the comic was edited by Jordan D. White. This team returned for the following issues, and additional art was done by Angel Unzueta and Emilio Laiso for issue two, with Unzueta also working on issue three.
In Shattered Empire 4, Shara teams up with Luke Skywalker to retrieve a Jedi artifact from an Imperial facility. Rucka did not want the artifact to be a holocron, because he believed they were too common in Star Wars stories. The Story Group agreed, and Hidalgo suggested using the ancient tree from the Jedi Temple. The tree was first seen in the animated television show Star Wars: The Clone Wars, appearing in the fifth season episode "The Wrong Jedi." Rucka stated that using the tree was a fantastic idea, and that the tree was a beautiful metaphor for rebuilding the galaxy. Issue four also debuted Luke's Force abilities in a post–Return of the Jedi setting. When writing the issue, Rucka met with the Story Group to determine Luke's powers, using the Star Wars Rebels characters Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus, and Darth Vader as points of reference.
In the fourth issue, Shara and Luke recover fragments of the Force-sensitive tree, and Shara receives one as a gift. The issue ends with Shara and Kes Dameron planting the tree outside of their home on Yavin 4. The decision to feature Yavin 4 as their home was made after a suggestion by Oscar Isaac, the actor who portrays Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens. Isaac was born in Guatemala—the filming site of Yavin 4 in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope—so he thought it would be interesting to have Poe be from there as well. Isaac relayed the idea to Lucasfilm, and it was passed to Rucka.
Shattered Empire 1 was published by Marvel Comics on September 9, 2015 to coincide with Force Friday, a merchandising event promoting The Force Awakens. The following three issues were published weekly, beginning on October 7 and ending on October 21. On November 17, a trade paperback was released. The collection included the four issues of Shattered Empire, along with the comic books Princess Leia 1 from early 2015 and Star Wars 1 from 1977. On September 13, 2016, a hardcover compilation was published, which included Shattered Empire and Star Wars Special: C-3PO 1, a 2016 one-shot set shortly before The Force Awakens.
- "At every turn I have wanted nothing more than to honor the source material, and I want to build on it. I want to add to it in as constructive and as useful a way as I can."
- ―Greg Rucka
Shattered Empire is set in the weeks and months after Return of the Jedi, and the opening of the first issue recreates the Battle of Endor from the perspective of Green Squadron pilot Shara Bey. In Star Wars canon, Shattered Empire was one of the first stories set after Return of the Jedi, along with the novel Aftermath by Chuck Wendig, the young-adult novel Lost Stars by Claudia Gray, and the mobile game Star Wars: Uprising. Across its four issues, Shattered Empire makes reference to other canon works, most notably in the third and fourth issues. Issue three references Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, when Leia Organa senses the presence of Darth Maul in Theed Hangar. In The Phantom Menace, Theed Hangar is where Maul encounters Organa's mother, Padmé Amidala; Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn; and Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Additionally, Shattered Empire 3 features the starship Mellcrawler II, a reference to the Mellcrawler, a vessel previously featured in the comic miniseries Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid and the junior novel Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry. Similarly, Shattered Empire 4 mentions Imperial forces on the planet Burnin Konn, a reference to the Iron Blockade of Uprising. The issue also references Rucka's previous Star Wars story, Smuggler's Run, when Shara impersonates ISB Senior Commander Alecia Beck.
Upon its September 2015 release, Shattered Empire 1 topped comic book sales with an estimated 208,883 copies sold. In October, Shattered Empire 4 was ranked as the eighth-best seller. The miniseries was met with generally positive reviews, which praised the writing, characters, and artwork. With the release of Shattered Empire 1, Joshua Yehl of IGN specifically commended Rucka's tone, the relationship between Shara and Kes, and Checchetto's space battle illustrations, also stating that "Star Wars: Shattered Empire delivers a more steady and hard-edged story than any of Marvel's other Star Wars comics."
Following Shattered Empire's completion, many of its elements have been incorporated into other Star Wars media. In Rucka's anthology novel Before the Awakening, a segment focuses on Poe Dameron, and it mentions Shara, Kes, and L'ulo. Similar story elements from Shattered Empire also appear in Star Wars: Poe Dameron, a comic book series written by Charles Soule. The series features Shara and Kes's son as the titular character, also including L'ulo as a supporting character.
Additionally, Palpatine's Contingency, which was introduced in Shattered Empire 2, is a significant plot point of the 2017 novel Aftermath: Empire's End and the 2019 novel Alphabet Squadron. The Contingency is also prominently featured in the campaign mode of the 2017 video game Star Wars Battlefront II, in which the messenger is voiced by Sam Witwer. Outside of narrative media, Shattered Empire references have been included in the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game and Star Wars: Armada.
|Issue||Title||Publication date||Trade paperback||Hardcover|
|1||Part I||September 9, 2015|
Star Wars: Shattered Empire TPB
November 17, 2015
Star Wars: Shattered Empire HC
September 13, 2016
|2||Part II||October 7, 2015|
|3||Part III||October 14, 2015|
|4||Part IV||October 21, 2015|
- Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens — Shattered Empire TPB
- Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire HC
Notes and referencesEdit
- Star Wars: Shattered Empire on Wikipedia