As I’ve mentioned before, I’m nothing these days if not Star Wars trash, and I’m especially obsessed with one Poe Dameron. When I heard that his family’s backstory was featured in the prequel/tie-in comic Star Wars: Shattered Empire, it was a matter of course to pick it up and check it out. What I found inside was three parts awesome tie-in story, two parts giant question mark.
Shattered Empire picks up just as the credits of Return of the Jedi roll. First we meet Lieutenant Shara Bey, kickass Rebel pilot and wife of Kes Dameron, a Rebel ground soldier. She and Kes reunite during the victory celebrations following the Battle of Endor, but their peace can’t last too long. When scouts confirm the existence of another Imperial base in the area, their pipe dreams of finally settling down go on hold. After all, just taking down the head of the Empire doesn’t mean the whole establishment goes with him.
Later, Shara accompanies Leia to Naboo on a secret diplomatic mission, but while they’re there, Imperial forces attack planetwide. As a last resort, the Queen of Naboo digs out some ancient fighter ships (you might recognize them as the sort Anakin flies in The Phantom Menace) and she, Shara, and Leia take to the skies to take out the Destroyers causing the disasters. This part of the story seriously gave me the chills; the three of them suiting up to stop the attack was so incredibly badass.
Finally, Shara is called to help Luke on yet another secret mission. She poses as an Imperial officer and they infiltrate a science lab where the Empire is growing a species of Force-sensitive tree. Because there are two samples when he only expected to find one, Luke offers one of the saplings to Shara, who plants it in the Dameron family yard and settles in to actually spend some time with her family.
The rest of the Shattered Empire trade collects Princess Leia #1 and a very old issue of an Episode IV comic adaptation from when A New Hope was actually new.
I liked a lot about this story. Obviously I love that Shara is the main character; the Star Wars franchise has had no qualms about putting women at the forefront of its stories lately, and I’m very into it. Shara is an awesome, snarky, kickass character, and she gets to interact with the whole main cast of the trilogy in her adventures. The issue with Leia was the most touching and special to me because of the emotional notes it hits and the camaraderie it shows between the two women.
As I said at the beginning, I went into this for more Poe backstory, and while he himself is barely in the comic (and then only as a kid), there’s a lot to run with characterization-wise. Reading about Shara, you can really see where Poe gets his dedication, his moral compass, and his mad piloting skills. It’s also really touching to me that her being a pilot means Poe, on top of growing up with Leia as his idol, decided to follow in his mother’s professional footsteps. It warms my heart when men wholeheartedly look up to female role models. This is also the comic book that canon-ized his homeworld as Yavin IV. (Because the Yavin IV scenes in the original trilogy were filmed in Guatemala, and Oscar Isaac is Guatemalan-American, so he had headcanoned Poe as hailing from there, and the powers that be ended up putting it in the comic. Woo representation!) I also wonder if the gift of the Force-sensitive tree is a one-off thing simply meant to show how grateful Luke was to Shara for her help, or if growing up around it will have had any effect on Poe.
From a more plot-centric point of view, I really appreciate that the franchise has committed to showing the fall of the Empire as a slow, ugly thing. It only makes sense from a storytelling standpoint that dismantling an entrenched galaxy-wide government would take more than one successful battle, and as long as they keep putting out more media about how it happens, I’m probably gonna keep consuming it.
My only real complaint was that I was a little confused as to why they included Princess Leia #1 and the A New Hope issue in the collection, seeing as Leia has her own trade collection for her series, and that the Episode IV one was just a comic-paneled transcription of the original movie. It came off to me like they realized they only had three issues of story to tell in the actual Shattered Empire storyline and opted to toss the other two issues in there as filler instead. I’d borrowed the Shattered Empire collection from a friend, and since I already own Princess Leia #1, these last two issues made me not really want to buy my own copy. And even if you haven’t read Leia, I feel like it’d be weird to have three stories about Shara and then suddenly a different story about Leia and a different pilot.
That said, I did really enjoy reading about Shara’s adventures and, honestly, it’s worth picking up just for the one story with her and Leia on Naboo if nothing else. If you’re desperate for more worldbuilding information in the dearth of other canon material, definitely consider picking up Star Wars: Shattered Empire.