’s Interview with Writer of Star Wars: Shattered Empire


Among the post-Return of the Jedi canon coming to us the week of Force Friday (September 4th) is the highly anticipated Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1, a comic book series that will focus on events occurring directly after the victory above Endor in Episode VI. Along with Aftermath by Chuck Wendig, Shattered Empire will be the first canon story to explore that tantalizingly blank era of Star Wars history that has only been dreamed of in Legends.

In an interview with’s Dan Brooks, Shattered Empire‘s writer Greg Rucka unveiled some new details about the series and the process behind continuing the Star Wars legacy beyond Return of the Jedi.

The core of the series is the idea that the struggle against the Empire is not over; in fact, it’s practically just begun.

"“When you’re young and you see Jedi,… 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…“The Empire still has resources. The Empire still has an enormous fleet. They may be in disarray post the Battle of Endor, but to think that in that vacuum people aren’t stepping up [is shortsighted].”"

This is what the series’ main protagonist, Shara Bey, and her husband Kes are discovering, Rucka hints. With Shara as a pilot and Kes as a ground trooper, and both veterans of the Rebellion, there is still plenty for them to do. The Empire is only wounded, and there’s no way they’re going down without a fight.

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"“All these people [the Empire] 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.”"

You would think that destroying the Emperor and his primary enforcer would be enough to shake the regime from Moff all the way down to loyal citizen. But the word that the Emperor is dead is not as permeating as one might think.

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"“The other thing that I tend to look at is propaganda,” [Rucka] 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…“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.”"

The story group at Lucasfilm was heavily involved with the making of Shattered Empire, especially with regard to the above quote.

"“That’s something that Leland [Che] and Pablo [Hidalgo] 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.”"

Rucka and the story group were also invested in the portrayal of Luke Skywalker, who, though he isn’t a main character in Shattered Empire, is still a key player in events at large.

"“I had an interesting conversation with the Story Group a couple of weeks ago when we were going over notes about the Luke beat,” Rucka says. “It was just after the “Siege of Lothal” episode of Rebels had come out. We were having a discussion about what’s Luke’s power level post-Jedi, and is it comparable to Vader kicking the snot out of Kanan and Ezra? You drop these proto-chicken walkers on him, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s not gonna work, either.’ [Laughs] Can Luke do that? Is Luke at that power level? The Story Group is incredible. They are really smart, passionate people, and have clearly put thought into it. So, we’re talking about it, and [they said] ‘Well, maybe this, but not that. We’ve never seen this — maybe you can do this with Luke.’ I love working in an environment like that.”"

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Though the rest of the Big Three, Leia and Han Solo, along with other familiar classic heroes won’t be the protagonists in Shattered Empire, they are all of them still important. It was also important, though, that they play more of a background role for this series.

"“This could never be, as much as I wish I could’ve written, and would’ve loved to have written, the story of, ‘We’re gonna follow Luke for four issues after Return of the Jedi.’ That was never what my mandate here was. But, with that in mind, we see Luke, we see Leia, we see Lando, we see Han, we see Chewie. We see what they are doing, and while the stories are not about them — they’re about Shara Bey — the stories link. Issue 1 sort of stands alone. Issues 2 and 3 follow the same story path; they’re like a two-parter, and they lead into the fourth. As it stands, we meet Shara in [issue] 1 during the Battle of Endor, and we come out of the Battle of Endor, and then we cover about three to six months total in the series following the Battle of Endor. In that time, Shara and her husband find themselves in some situations only incidentally in the path of the principles, and in other situations, working quite closely with them.”"

Shara and Kes’s part in Star Wars is based on the loose idea in Rucka’s imagination that they joined the Rebellion after the victory at the Battle of Yavin because of the birth of their child. They chose a life that would allow them to help make a better world for that child to grow up in. It’s not a canon origin story at this point, but, as Brooks elaborates, it “represents an emotional core.”

"“Star Wars works because for all the glory of this fantasy setting,” Rucka says, “the emotions of the characters and their stories are very real and plausible and tangible. We accept them. When Luke screams at the end of Empire, ‘No!’, that is a primal agony. You have to be an exceptional cynic to laugh at Hamill’s performance there…That’s a heart ripping open. That’s an emotion that is so honest and so true. When Star Wars is at its best, it carries that.”"

Rucka aims to capture that emotion in Shara Bey.

"“I’ve got four issues,” he says. “I don’t know if I can ever touch that level of resonance and truth, but again, I want to honor that it exists. Shara Bey may be a pilot you never met before, but her emotions, her concerns, what she does, what she believes, are real. If I can convey that successfully then we’ll have a good story.”"

It’s that dedication to the central elements of Star Wars – the characters, their stories and emotions – that inspires Rucka in his writing.

"“At every turn I have wanted nothing more than to honor the source material,” says Rucka, “and I want to build on it. I want to add to it in as constructive and as useful a way as I can.”"

Read the full interview here.

Star Wars: Shattered Empire, a four-issue series, will debut September 2nd. And it couldn’t come soon enough.

Next: Review: Marvel's Darth Vader #8