(I'm just using the title "Shattered Empire" here because "Journey to 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' - Shattered Empire" is just ridiculously long.)
Rucka follows in Aaron and Gillen's footsteps here, telling a story that sounds and feels exactly like the movies. He gets the fun task of showing us the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Endor. (In fact, the issue starts in the furious last few moments before Lando and Nien Nunb blow up the Death Star.) We see the celebration on Endor from a number of different perspectives, at times entering and departing scenes that we recognize from "Return of the Jedi" (like Lando and Han arguing over damage to the Falcon). It's an amazing what Rucka accomplishes in just these few pages, humanizing the war in a way that the movies didn't.
In fact, the main point of this issue (and, seemingly, series) is contemplating the sacrifices that the rank-and-file members of the Rebellion made. Our main character is a woman named Shara, a.k.a. Green-Four, one of the rebel pilots assigned to protect the Falcon on its run at the Death Star. Rucka uses her to shift the point-of-view of the Battle from the main characters to a minor one. In a way, it felt like reading the "Order of the Stick." Whereas the main characters in the movie hardly ever express concern that they might die, most of this issue is focused on Shara's worry that her husband, a member of Han's strike force, might not have survived the Battle. (NPC woes, man.) He did (hurrah!), but the two of them almost immediately volunteer for Han's mission to take down an Imperial base on the other side of Endor. Shara's husband, Kes, proposes that they build a house on a nice plot of land just before he enters the base with Han, so we all know that he's going to die soon. (Shara herself alludes to that cliché, so maybe Rucka will have to surprise us and let him live.)
Again, Rucka tells a great story. In the end, Han emerges from the base announcing that the fight isn't over, setting up the next phase of the Rebels' war with the Empire. Kes and Shara had spent the night after the Battle wondering what they were going to do in peace time (setting up Kes' comment about the house), but Rucka calls into question how much peace they'll actually see in the immediate aftermath of the Battle. Rucka manages to really take the energy from "Return of the Jedi" and extend it here, and I'm unspeakably excited to see where it goes. Once I finish the current book I'm reading, I'm jumping right to "Star Wars: Aftermath!"
*** (three of five stars)