– Spoiler Review –
By the will of the Force, Shara Bey finds herself helping Luke on a mission he deems vitally important. Shattered Empire #4 wraps up some questions, leaves several things tantalizing open, and gives Luke his first new canon post-Return of the Jedi moment (and it raises even more questions about his role in The Force Awakens), leaving me wishing this had been an on-going series instead of a limited one.
Shara, who’s been fighting for quite awhile now, is beginning to feel the weight of the war’s drawn out conclusion and tired of waiting for an end that seemingly may never come. And even with her mustering out (i.e. gracefully leaving the Alliance war effort) papers about to go through, with Kes’ already cleared, Shara still doesn’t feel right about the decision to stop fighting and focus on her family instead. But as Luke puts it towards the end, what good is their war if it’s costing the lives of those it’s trying to protect? It’s a question worth asking and it certainly raises a good point, and allowing Shara and Kes to peacefully retire, for now, shows there might just be hope for the New Republic and the galaxy after all (up until the First Order comes on the scene, I guess). I love how Shara and Kes walking home together, away from the war, also played with some of my expectations over one of their death’s likely leaving Poe in Leia’s care, as has been hinted at in Moving Target. Looks like, for now, Shara (and Kes) thankfully live.
While SE did a great job with Leia in #2 and #3, it’s does an equally fantastic job showing Luke post-Death Star II battle. Already 3 months out and he seems so sure of himself and the Force that he’s willing to let it bring him a pilot and help them succeed on his mission to Vetine. He also takes on an entire base with calm and ease, looking like a total Jedi Master warrior. It’s exhilarating to see, but only serves to make his current absence from The Force Awakens posters and trailers all the more puzzling…and makes waiting to learn the answer all the more exciting. Also, he gets an impressive mic drop moment when he returns some detonators to the Imperial troops pleasant enough to offer them as a gift. If you want your first taste of new canon Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, who’s trust in and mastery of the Force is practically absolute, you were probably already reading this series from #1 anyways.
Shattered Empire #4 answers a big question about the Messenger, revealing it just to be a droid the Imperials are mass producing on Vetine (makes even more sense why they visually recall the robots from the comic series Saga). But why make a robot deliver a message they simply could transmit via hologram? Is it because they want to fool as many people as possible, and those who might capture a Messenger, that the Emperor could still be alive? Use it as a symbol to continue spreading fear of superiors through the ranks, now that Vader is gone? Or, is it a way to confirm the identities of all those in command positions still alive in the Empire, seeing as it requires a blood sample before transmitting it’s message? Whatever the answers may be, I certainly think we’ll be seeing more of them in future novels and comics.
Another big thing #4 leaves open, besides the whole damn war, is Operation: Cinder. Besides repelling the efforts on Naboo, it seems like Cinder is still going and has already affected many planets and systems. While it was already made obvious Cinder is a contingency plan to seek vengence on the Empire’s enemies were the Emperor to die, the opening crawl suggests it’s also to preserve his vast treasures and secrets. The New Republic is only beginning to sense there’s more to his plan than simply punitive measures and as this issue ends we’re left with Cinder still raging across the galaxy, wondering when it’ll end and how much of it the New Republic can stop. Will we see more of this in the Aftermath trilogy? Because as far as we currently know, the Empire’s war with the New Republic is only just beginning to fizzle out one year after the Battle of Endor (9 months after the events within #4)…but with a mysterious Fleet Admiral gathering forces around him, the end is nowhere in sight at this point.
Yes, Luke risked Shara, his, and Artoo’s lives to rescue some trees, but not just any trees: they are the last pieces of the tree which grew inside the old Jedi Temple on Coruscant (Wookieepedia asked on Twitter if the trees are from the tree seen in the Yoda arc in The Clone Wars S6. SE‘s writer Greg Rucka responded with an affirmative). While one gets a home with Shara and Kes on what looks like Yavin IV (is that Poe’s homeworld then?), the other Luke is keeping for his own uses. Is it to plant it at his home of choice for a new Jedi Order? In this exhaustively researched article at Tosche Station by Nanci, she ties the trees to Luke’s promise, and fulfillment of said promise, to return to the Temple of Eedit on Devaron and rebuild it (as seen in The Weapon of a Jedi). The article also goes on to theorize about his role in TFA and Nancy’s points definitely make a lot of sense.
Here are a few other things:
- The ISB agent Shara is impersonating, Alecia Beck, can be seen in the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” YA novel, Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Story. I liked her in the novel and appreciated her mention here, and it seems like she still might be alive to give Han and Chewie some grief in the near future, as she swore to do by novel’s end. Greg Rucka wrote that novel, as well is the writer for SE, so it shouldn’t be too surprising he used her.
- The planets mentioned by Ackbar in the beginning are: Burnin Konn, (canonically) first seen in the mobile game Uprising; Cadovant, brand new; Abednedo, a planet who’s species have been introduced in Aftermath, Smuggler’s Run, and Moving Target (one of which can be seen in the panel with Ackbar in #4 here, on the far left), while one will be seen in TFA and is named after the Beastie Boys!; Commenor, a planet familiar to Rogue Squadron fans just being canonizied for the first time!
- I’m very happy to have just one artist back and it’s series’ starter Checchetto (who drew the best Shara, in my opinion).
- UPDATE: It seems Shara didn’t live much longer, which is a true bummer, as revealed in the Before the Awakening YA novel.
Greg Rucka has not only done a good job handling the original cast, but introduced the ever capable and instantly likeable Shara Bey, who might be retiring now, but here’s hoping we see more of what she’s up to before and after Shattered Empire. For fans wanting more of Luke, Han, and Leia, Shattered Empire is the comic you’re looking for, but you’ll also get the added bonus of Shara Bey and some expert teases of the unending war to come.
+ Luke and his ultimate trust in the Force
+ Shara surviving to live happily ever after with Kes and Poe…for now
+ The war is far from over
– Only 4 issues! Would’ve loved more from this story!
STAR WARS CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
#1 | #2 | #3
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Skywalker Strikes (#1-6) | Old Ben’s Journals | Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (#8-12)
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
Vader (#1-6) | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12)
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)