Friday, November 20, 2015

Shattered Empire #2 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Rucka pulls off a well played dodge here.  Rather than picking up the story where we left it last issue -- with Han realizing that they have a long way to go to defeat the Empire -- Rucka instead focuses on Shara's contributions to the Alliance's ongoing attempts to liberate cities and planets.  Shara helps free Cawa City here, and her squadron leader expresses concern that she's pushing herself too hard.  (Her husband Kes is apparently on the "Pathfinder" mission with Han.)  He sends her to escort Leia to Naboo, where she convinces the Queen to help rebuild the Alliance.  It's supposed to be an easy job, for both of them, really.

The twist is that the Emperor has put into motion a series of contingency plans upon his death.  Earlier, an entity called "the Messenger" arrives for an Imperial officer named Captain Duvat.  (The Messenger wears a helmet that plays the video of the Emperor giving Duvat his orders once he confirms Duvat's identity through blood.  It's pretty freaking cool.)  The Emperor orders Duvat to scour Naboo, fulling his long-standing threat to do so.  (Leia had earlier narrated that the Emperor had never actually pulled the trigger because he liked watching the Nabooans live in fear of him doing so eventually.)  Duvat deploys devices to disrupt Naboo's climate, and Leia and Shara are on planet when they do so.  So much for easy.

Perhaps the most interesting revelation here is that the Empire's propaganda arm is in full swing, pretending the Emperor is still alive.  When one of Duvat's subordinates mentions that the Emperor is dead, Duvat reminds him that repeating "rebel propaganda" is treason.  Given that "Star Wars:  The Force Awakens" appears to confirm that the Alliance never fully displaced the Empire, you can see Rucka building the blocks of that failure here.  Now, I'd love to know what Han is doing.

*** (three of five stars)

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