The end of Star Wars: Episode VI made it seem like all that fighting between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire stopped once the credits rolled. Of course, wars don’t end quite like that. A Marvel Comics series that just ended this week features a few characters who will connect the old Star Wars movies to the upcoming one. But it’s still not clear how much anybody should care about them.
Months ago, Disney announced a crop of projects branded with a Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens imprint. The initiative spread out across different media, with the various stories bridging the game between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Marvel Comics’ contribution to this canon build-out has been a series called Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire. Written by well-loved veteran Greg Rucka and drawn by Marco Checchetto and Andres Mossa, the four-part story focuses on two Rebel pilots named Kes Dameron and Shara Bey. They’re the parents of Poe Dameron, the rebel pilot played by Oscar Isaacs in The Force Awakens.
The first issue of Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire opens during ROTJ’s climactic battle. Once the fighting’s all done, Kes and Shara are right there on Endor, talking up their romance amongst as the rebels celebrating their seemingly decisive victory over the Empire. But both of them get assigned to various missions aimed to thwart the Emperor’s posthumous scorched-earth contingency plans.
Large chunks of Shattered Empire feel like old-school war comics, complete with chaotic action scenes filled multiple tiers of high-stakes combat. It establishes Shara and Kes as formidable pilots but the constant scene-shifting makes it tough to get a feel for the couple’s personalities. You see them do cool things but don’t get a sense of their own journeys during the rebellion.
This week’s issue #4 offers a minor bit of lore teasing, in the form of Shara’s assignment with Luke Skywalker. It’s a stealth mission where Luke wants to recover something very special from an Imperial outpost.
The story ends with Luke gifting one of those Force saplings to Shara, who goes on to plant it near the new home she and Kes start after the leave active duty.
But that interaction exemplifies the befuddling in-betweenness of this series. Shattered Empire exists solely to place those two characters — one really, since Shara gets most of the spotlight — in close proximity to prominent heroes of the Star Wars saga. “Hey, look, it’s Kes and Han! They’re bantering!” “It’s Shara and Leia, taking out some stormtroopers. She sure earned Leia’s respect on Naboo, huh?” And so on.
All of this seems to be an extravagant way to set up Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and/or Mark Hammill to say, “I knew your mother/father. He/she was a good person.” While Poe Dameron will be a major character in the new Star Wars movie, it’s not even clear if his parents will get any screen time. Hopefully, they show up in another Star Wars story soon because it hardly feels like they were in this one.