WookieeLeaks: Should You Buy ‘Star Wars: Aftermath’ or ‘Star Wars: Shattered Empire’?
ScreenCrush’s WookieeLeaks is a weekly roundup of everything 'Star Wars'! From The Force Awakens, to the upcoming spinoffs and the TV shows, if it pertains to that long ago, far away galaxy, we’re covering it here, bringing you our expert analysis. This week, we review Star Wars: Aftermath and Star Wars: Shattered Empire, watch the trailer for Star Wars: Uprising, and gaze upon the newest toys you’ll have to own.
A Brief Review of Star Wars: Aftermath and Star Wars: Shattered Empire
When Disney and Lucasfilm wiped away the old extended universe, one of the biggest sandboxes in the entire Star Wars saga was suddenly empty. What happened after Return of the Jedi? More specifically, what happened in the 30-plus years between the Battle of Endor and the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens? This past week saw the first big attempt to fill that sandbox. The novel Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig and the Marvel comic Star Wars: Shattered Empire by Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto take place directly after the destruction of the second Death Star and the deaths of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. They paint a picture of the same universe at the same time and they are companion pieces, wether they want to be or not. Unfortunately, one of them is not nearly as good as the other.
Next week, we’ll publish an article that goes in-depth about what these two stories say about the future of the Star Wars universe and what that means for The Force Awakens. There is a lot to chew on. We will not address this here (and we will remain spoiler-free). Consider this a simple “should you read these or not?” review.
So let’s answer that question right now. Yes, you should read Shattered Empire, which feels alive and human and directly connected to The Force Awakens in a very fun way. No, you should not read Aftermath, which is laborious, frustrating, and in desperate need of a rewrite or two.
To be fair, the basic events depicted in Aftermath are interesting. Set two months after the credits rolled on Return of the Jedi, the novel finds Rebel pilot Wedge Antilles happening across a vital meeting between the remaining leaders of the Empire on a lonely, isolated planet. Naturally, a motley crew of fighters (including a bounty hunter, an Imperial deserter, and a retired Rebel) come together to stop the galaxy’s greatest enemy from getting a second wind. As this happens, the novel treats us to vignettes from across the Star Wars universe, showing the creation of the New Republic, the ongoing battles between entrenched forces, and how the war is tearing families apart.
If this sounds intriguing enough, that’s because it is. If you’re only interested in pure information about the Star Wars universe, Aftermath will provide you with all kinds of tantalizing details about how the galaxy reacts to a major Rebel victory. Unfortunately, the novel itself is barely readable. Wendig is an accomplished and well-liked author, so it’s hard to know exactly what went wrong here. His action scenes are limp and his characters speak in cliches. His prose is tortured, simultaneously goofy and strained. There is never a sense of time or place and the leads are thin sketches who never blossom into proper characters. This feels very much like a first draft and, considering how fast these new Star Wars books are coming out, that may very well be the case.
Meanwhile, the first issue of Shattered Empire is everything Aftermath needs to be in 20 fast-paced pages. Rucka has always had an ear for dialogue and he makes his cast and new and familiar characters sing. Checchetto’s art is gorgeous, capturing detailed likenesses of various Star Wars characters while making the new characters instantly recognizable. More importantly, his action sequences are phenomenal, particularly a dogfight between a squad of A-Wings and TIE Fighters around the second Death Star. While we won’t spoil it here, the comic gradually reveals that its two leads – a commando who helped Han Solo destroy the shield generator on Endor and a Rebel pilot – are the parents of a major The Force Awakens character. Heck, we may even see the, uh, creation of this character in a romantic scene following the big party in the Ewok village.
There’s still plenty of time for Shattered Empire to fall apart, but if you only have time to commit to one Star Wars tale that bridges the sixth and seventh movies, it’s the the once to choose.
Star Wars: Uprising is Out Now
We’ve been hearing about Star Wars: Uprising for some time now, but like most mobile games, it just kind of appeared this week. It’s now available in the mobile app store of your choice and you can buy it. Right now. If you’ve been following this game at all, you know that it’s set in the tumultuous time right after the destruction of the second Death Star (making it a third companion to Aftermath and Shattered Empire) and allows players to design their own personal Rebel hero and embark on missions against the wounded Empire. It certainly looks fun (we’ll have a review next week), but this kind of action RPG tends to function better on consoles and PCs than mobile devices. Still, this is Star Wars – we’ll give it a shot and hope we like it.
Anyway, the game’s launch was accompanied by this new trailer, which is mostly cinematic sequences showcasing a few ordinary people rising up against the local Stormtrooper populace. It looks a lot like the events described elsewhere in the new canon – the Battle of Endor didn’t win the war, it just burst the war wide open.
Here is Some New Stuff You Can Buy
Force Friday may be a week in the past, but the onslaught of Star Wars merchandise has only begun. While countless fans still search and destroy their local retailers searching for the first group of highly detailed “Black Series” action figures, great photos of the second wave from this line have already begun popping up online. You’d better buy those first four figures quickly – you’re going to want to be caught up in time to get this new batch. Expect the Captain Phasma and Poe Dameron figures to be the must-haves, but don’t count out General Hux. Who doesn’t want a tiny plastic Domhnall Gleason?
Elsewhere, new posters depicting various ships (and their related characters) have shown up, giving us an up close and personal glimpse at some new vehicles. The first of them gives us our best non-LEGO look yet at Kylo Ren’s shuttle (which looks very pointy). The second of them features the First Order TIE Fighter, which certainly looks a lot more menacing than its predecessor (thanks, color swap!). The final two show off a new Star Destroyer (which still looks very much like a Star Destroyer) and Poe Dameron’s X-Wing, which looks like an X-Wing with a fancy new paint job.
For some additional character posters featuring Finn, Rey, Poe Dameron and Captain Phasma, head right over here.
And here’s something for the youngest fans in your life: the first of a series of Little Golden Books introducing the characters and concepts of the Star Wars universe. As usual, it’s all about BB-8.
News on where Star Wars: Episode 8 is filming may teach us something about Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Director Colin Trevorrow has already started teasing his Star Wars: Episode 9 preparations.
Here’s the interactive Star Wars map you didn’t know you needed.
What does Mads Mikkelsen’s Star Wars: Rogue One character name tell us?
And finally, Disney is planning to begin construction on their new Star Wars attractions next year.