Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Journey To Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Shattered Empire #1 - Marvel Comics

Set within the last act of the 1983 “American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand”, this twenty page periodical not only depicts “the final moments of the Battle of Endor” as “the Rebellion’s capital ships… buy enough time to rescue victory from the jaws of defeat…” But also introduces two new characters to George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away in the shape of Sergeant Kes Dameron and his wife Lieutenant “Green Four” Bey; one of General Han Solo’s Pathfinders and an ace A-Wing pilot who inadvertently almost dispatches a certain Imperial shuttlecraft fleeing the destruction of the Second Death Star; “This is Commander Skywalker, repeat, vessel is under friendly control.”

The inclusion of, and subsequent focus upon, two such newly-created “Star Wars” personalities is a somewhat disappointing move by writer Greg Rucka, as this “new chapter in the Star Wars saga” was advertised by “Marvel Worldwide” as one of “a series of canonical projects” which would “explore the aftermath of Return Of The Jedi” and as such seemed destined to follow the exploits of Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie in a post-Palpatine universe rather than any “new addition[s] to the Star Wars canon”. Fortunately however “the acclaimed writer” of “Wolverine” has been very careful not to solely concentrate upon the actions of the two rebel fighters, and instead has weaved them throughout the Emperor’s final moments.

As a result there are some nice scenes shared with the more recognisable ‘heroes of the Rebellion’, such as C-3P0, R2-D2, Nien Nunb and plenty of fuzzy Ewok warriors. Indeed one of the highlights of the narrative is Bey’s interruption of General Solo as he berates a smirking Lando Calrissian for damaging the Millennium Falcon during the space battle as the San Franciscan’s script absolutely nails the smooth-talking smiling former administrator of Cloud City as the “connoisseur of beauty in all things…”

The three-time Eisner Award-winner is equally as successful in producing a storyline which genuinely increases in tension with each and every turn of the page. Having spent the best part of the comic searching to see if her husband still lives after the Death Star’s demise, Green Four then accompanies the Corellian and Chewbacca on a “hot” raid upon “an imperial holdout on the far side of the moon…” and spends a nervy few panels watching the enemy base Dameron is fighting within, waiting to see if the sergeant will return to her arms alive…

Quite possibly this book’s greatest asset though is the incredibly detailed artwork of Marco Checchetto. Rucka’s collaborator on “The Punisher” really manages to ‘nail’ both the grandeur and dynamism of this “untold story”, and additionally captures all the trademark looks and gestures of trilogy actors Billy Dee Williams and Harrison Ford.
The variant cover art of "JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS - SHATTERED EMPIRE" No. 1 by Pasqual Ferry

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