Shattered Empire #2

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Shattered Empire #2

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Marco Checchetto, Angel Unzueta and Emilio Laiso
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Marco Checchetto

Shattered Empire #2 has an absolutely amazing start. We get a glimpse of the Emperor’s messengers, then the comic dives into the gripping, action packed panels of starfighter combat. While the visuals take an odd turn with the arrival of Leia, the issue still has a strong finish. Who would have thought the Empire would employ weather weapons of mass destruction?

The Emperor’s alive! …well, probably not, but this is still cool.

It all begins with a Star Destroyer named the Torment sitting in space as they receive a special guest. That guest happens to be “The Messenger”, a faceless person dressed in red robes. The messenger is most notably a person of import. The commander of the ship clears off the entire bridge for this person. While cloaked in red similar to the Emperor’s royal guards, this messenger is still strikingly different. Yet the cool factor that really caught my attention was what the did with the messenger’s helmet: it can broadcast the Emperor’s face so that Palpatine can deliver his messages in person…to an extent. To be honest, we all know the Emperor is dead, so this is one elaborate scheme to trick people into thinking he’s still alive. But as far as schemes go, this one is pretty cool. It also raises questions. Are the messengers ex-royal guards recruited to serve a new master? Who might that new master be? And to what extent is this fake emperor going to wreck havoc on the galaxy far, far away?

So gorgeous – the colors, the details, the chaos.

Speaking of havoc, the comic rolls right into some fierce combat after the messenger’s appearance. On the planet Sterdic IV, the Empire and the New Republic are still at war as AT-AT’s crash through the city, TIE bombers and Y-wings vie for supremacy, and the A-wings try to save the day. It’s at this point that Shattered Empire #2 becomes truly amazing. Between Greg Rucka and the artists, they brilliantly capture starfighter combat like never before in a comic. The panels smoothly transition from big battle shots to in cockpit close-ups and then rapidly shifting panels showcasing the action and maneuvers. The artwork is simply gorgeous. It’s dripping with details and shows just the right scenes to evoke the action of the story. The terse dialog of the pilots works perfectly with the artwork to convey the sense of battle. There’s real suspense as A-wing pilot Shara Bey engages TIE fighters and narrowly escapes death at every turn. The way the panels lead you shot-by-shot through the battle puts you right there in the pilot’s seat, gripping the steering yoke with a death grip as you wonder whether you’re going to make it out of this one alive. And then it ends and you realize that was some of the best starfighter action you’ve ever seen on a comic page. Seriously, I can’t speak enough praise about how well that part of the issue was done.

Sadly, there is a downside. When I opened the issue up, I noticed there were three artists, and whenever I see multiple artists for an issue, I get worried. Art change ups can be really rough in a comic. When the issue introduces Leia and Mon Mothma, that art change strikes hard. It’s not an issue with the pencils or inking, but with the coloring. Both Leia and Mon Mothma are deathly pale with heavy make-up. The end result is creepy. Leia almost looks like a goth, and Mon Mothma looks like she hasn’t slept in a week and has been living off coffee. It’s weird and I’m not sure what happened considering there’s only one colorist listed for the issue. Did Andres Mossa just take Mon Mothma and Leia in an odd direction, or did someone else do the coloring for these characters? Either way, it threw me out of the story for a bit as I tried to readjust for the new visuals.

Here’s the page that threw me. There’s just something off with the way Leia and Mon Mothma look, and it’s all because of the coloring.

Take notice Star Wars artist: gratuitous butt shots have no place in Star Wars comics. This may be common place in superhero comics, but in the galaxy far, far away, there’s higher standards. This kind of thing is a distraction we can do without.

For all of its odd coloring, the artists did a good job of capturing the look of Leia. These three panels definitely capture Carrie Fisher.

And while the coloring may be odd on Leia’s face, the coloring elsewhere is great.

With the art change aside, the story wraps up on an interesting note as the Imperial commander from the beginning of the issue returns to strike Naboo. It so happens that Shara and Leia are on Naboo at this time. Adding to the interest is the use of satellites to heat up Naboo’s atmosphere in order to create hurricanes to devastate the surface. The comic ends on that note, so we’ll have to wait for the next issue to see how that stakes get turned about. For now, it’s a nice hook.

The Empire pulls out their nastiest weapon yet: global warming! On the bright side, there are gungans down their popping like popcorn.

Starting out with two great punches, Shattered Empire #2 misses a total knockout with the odd choice of coloring halfway through. If it wasn’t for that coloring change, I give this one a five out of five. However, the issue still finishes strong and I give it a four out of five metal bikinis. I’m looking forward to where this story goes next.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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