'Star Wars': 5 Ways Marvel's 'Shattered Empire' Ties Into 'The Force Awakens'

Spoilers abound in the mini-series set between 'Return of the Jedi' and this December's big screen 'Star Wars' revival.
Phil Noto/Marvel Entertainment/Lucasfilm

"The Force is meaningless. And the Jedi are extinct." Or, at least, that's what the Empire tells itself.

The final issue of Marvel's Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire is released today, closing off another prologue to December's movie set after the events of 1983's Return of the Jedi. As the four issue story draws to a close in the wake of the final trailer for The Force Awakens, here is a spoiler-y rundown of the things that fans might want to pay attention to.

The Series Centers On Poe Dameron's Mother

Shara Bey, the lead character in the series was hinted to be the mother of Oscar Isaac's Force Awakens character in the first issue of the series, and that connection was confirmed in the second, which established that Poe was already alive and in the background of events, being raised by Shara's father. By series' end, Shara and her husband Kes have both withdrawn from the conflict to start a new life … with a particular plant that might impact Poe's future, perhaps.

Luke Skywalker Is Suddenly Into Gardening

The final issue of the series follows Shara and Luke on a mission to the heart of the Empire to retrieve two very special plants. "These are all that remain of the tree that grew at the heart of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant," Luke reveals. "The Force is with them"; they've been kept in stasis by the Emperor, in secret, since the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The mission is successful, but Luke only needed one tree for an unstated purpose. The other, he gives to Shara, with the final page of the story showing that she's planted it in the garden of her new home. Two questions are raised by the events of the issue: firstly, what is Luke going to do with his Force tree? Secondly, will Poe, who grows up around the second Force tree, attain some level of Force ability himself ... ?

The War Never Ended

The series' first issue ends with the discovery that not all Imperial forces have surrendered in the wake of the Emperor's death, and its final issue opens with a general in the Rebel Alliance giving a grave report to his troops: "As much as Admiral Ackbar and I wish we could tell you the end is in hand ... we see no respite from hostilities at this time." This fits with the implication from both the prose novel Star Wars: Aftermath and the Force Awakens trailer that the end of Return of the Jedi was more of a successful battle for the Rebellion than the end of the war. You celebrated too soon, Ewoks!

The Emperor Lives (Kind Of)

One reason for the continuation of combat is that the Emperor himself ordered it. As the second issue of Shattered Empire reveals, the Emperor left a recording in the instance of his death, launching something called "Operation: Cinder," a pre-planned assault on strategic targets. "Resistance. Rebellion. Defiance. These are concepts that cannot be allowed to persist, Captain," the recording tells one Imperial officer. "You are but one of many tools by which these ideas shall be burned away. Operation: Cinder is to begin at once." Interestingly enough, in the following scene, that same Imperial officer responds to a fellow officer's comment about the Emperor being dead by saying, "Repeating Rebel propaganda is an act of treason, lieutenant." Is this the beginning of the pushback against the events of the original trilogy that leads them to become urban myth as hinted at in the Force Awakens trailer?

Leia Can Sense A Presence

On a mission to Naboo — yes, a shoutout to the prequel trilogy! — Leia has a moment of unexpected premonition, sensing what definitely seems to be Darth Maul, the Sith Lord killed in Star Wars: Episode I and later resurrected in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. Not only is this one of the first times that we've seen Leia use the Force, but it's also a suggestion that Maul is, somehow, still around and on Naboo ... which could set up future plot lines for the movie or ancillary material. The Empire might think that the Force is meaningless, but that doesn't mean that other threats to the Rebellion agree, after all ... 

All four issues of Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire are available digitally and in comic stores now. A collected edition will be released Nov. 18.

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