An Interview with Star Wars: Shattered Empire Writer Greg Rucka
THE WRITER OF MARVEL’S HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED SERIES TALKS TO STARWARS.COM ABOUT CRAFTING THE NEXT PHASE OF THE REBELLION — AND OF A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY.
The destruction of the second Death Star and the death of the Emperor in Return of the Jedi wasn’t the end. It wasn’t the end of the Empire, it wasn’t the end of the Rebellion’s fight against tyranny. It wasn’t the end of Star Wars. It was actually a beginning.
Star Wars: Shattered Empire, a four-issue series from Marvel kicking off on September 2, is a big part of that beginning. It’s a tentpole story in the Journey toStar Wars: The Force Awakens publishing program, and picks up immediately after the Battle of Endor.
“When you’re young and you see Jedi,” series writer Greg Rucka tells StarWars.com, “you can look at the happy ending and go, ‘Hey, it’s over!’ But you get older and you start to think about it, and you realize, no it’s not. It’s not over at all.” That’s the basis of Shattered Empire, which follows new characters Kes and main protagonist Shara Bey — husband and wife Rebels — as the struggle for freedom continues.
“Shara flies, Kes is a ground-pounder, and a very experienced one,” says Rucka. “So, they have spent more time apart than together, and they’re in the Outer Rim world where the Imperial presence is felt, and they’re hoping that they can bring an end to this. But they’re both very tired veterans, and they come out of [the Battle of] Endor with the elation that we see in [Return of the Jedi]. ‘We’ve won. It’s over.’ — only to discover that, no it’s not. The Empire was huge.” Despite the fireworks, despite the funeral pyre of Darth Vader, despite the joy on Endor, the Empire is far from broken.
“The Empire still has resources. The Empire still has an enormous fleet,” Rucka says. “They may be in disarray post the Battle of Endor, but to think that in that vacuum people aren’t stepping up [is shortsighted].
“All these people are not about to go, ‘Oh, well, I guess we were on the wrong side. It’s over, then.’ [Laughs] There’s a Moff out there who’s like, ‘Right. I’m emptying the bank accounts, I’m changing my name, and I’m going to Aruba.’ You know there is. But for every Moff who does that, there are five who say, ‘Like hell am I leaving this post. We’ve got stormtroopers for a reason. You get out there and you shoot every last one of these upstart insurgents, these terrorists, and you make clear to them that the rule of law still stands.’ So it does get ugly.”
Shattered Empire, illustrated by Marco Chechetto (see his beautiful art above and below), will cover this new ground in multiple ways: by showing how the Empire reacts when it’s down, and by showing how different worlds change after world-changing events. Rucka cites real history — the Arab Spring, the Soviet Bloc, North Korea — as influences in how he approaches depicting the state of the galaxy in the comic, as well as another factor in all dictatorships. “The other thing that I tend to look at is propaganda,” he says. “Who controls the airwaves? The Empire does. So, the Rebellion can be jumping up and down, and screaming at the top their lungs, ‘Palpatine is dead!’ But I guarantee you, that message didn’t reach 70 percent of the galaxy. It’s a rumor. It’s a whisper.”
The story evolved through Rucka’s pitches and collaboration with the Lucasfilm Story Group, particularly Rayne Roberts, Kiri Hart, Pablo Hidalgo, and Leland Chee, as they worked out everything from the political climate across the galaxy to different story beats. “We see, at the beginning of issue 2, the Alliance aiding in the liberation of a capitol city on a new world,” Rucka says. “Not a world we’ve visited in the films. We see there, a hint that the Empire has no intention of going quietly into that dark night. One assumes that there’s an uptick in support for the Alliance: people who are now willing to take up arms with the news that they [blew up the Death Star], the Emperor’s gone. ‘This is our chance.’ But by the same token, the Empire now has to double down. They cannot risk not defending what they hold with all their power, because they’ve got to know how tenuous their position is in these first couple of weeks after Endor. That’s something that Leland and Pablo specifically commented on. That, while there are places that will be able to rise up, there are places that start to and the cost is so punitive that it immediately fails, and there are others where they just don’t dare.”
The entire interview along with additional artwork from Shattered Empire can be found on StarWars.com.