Star Wars: Tie Fighter – Jody Houser, Roge Antonio, Michael Dowling & Juan Gedeon (Marvel)

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Now this is an interesting development! I have mentioned in previous missives from Darth Marv’s Tower that the one seemingly unavoidable flaw that is always present in a great many Star Wars comics is the fact that we know the characters and, therefore, no matter what peril they find themselves in, there is a predictability to the outcome. Generally the characters we are sympathetic with will survive and the tale goes the way we expect … eventually … usually. Everyone’s happy. We’re all rebels after all are we not? What if we were placed, through the pages of a comic book, in to the cockpit of a Tie Fighter though? What if our lead protagonists were not X Wing pilots or a roguish smuggler, farm boy and Princess, but the fanatical and dedicated pilots of the Imperial Navy’s most recognisable and iconic fighters? Well, here we go … Tie Fighter.

The treasonous traitors that are the Rebel Alliance are a threat to the peace and stability that the Empire is bringing to the galaxy and Shadow Wing, an elite squadron of Tie Fighter pilots are bringing the Emperor’s fist smashing down accordingly. Painting the rebels as the “bad guys” is an original twist and I’m surprised we’ve not had too much more of it over the years. Saying that though, the bad guys in this origin tale (of sorts) are more of those ruddy Imperials … In true Heart of Darkness style, an Imperial Mining Facility has fallen to a rogue Admiral and the loyal to the Emperor Shadow Wing find themselves embroiled in his mutinous antics. The squadron’s characters are developed well. There’s a couple, of course, who shouldn’t really become attached to each other in such an environment. We meet the hard hearted and fanatically driven win at all costs type. There’s a pair of brothers with a past, and intriguingly, one of the crew may just be wondering “are we the bad guys”? As an introduction to the pilots of Shadow Wing, a sort of dark inverse of X Wing Rogue Squadron, this story arc serves its purpose well. The main enemies turn out not to be Imps and not those pesky rebels, so we can warm to the squad a little more than if they spent the entire tale smashing trough Y Wings and the likes. Make no mistake though, it’s clear that we are in the Empire and the Rebel Alliance are terrorists who need crushing.

Seeing things from an Imperial perspective is refreshingly interesting and this anything but another Star Wars adventure. Tie Fighters, throughout the Star Wars canon are seen as disposable at best and the poor, unfortunate souls who are lined up for the Millenium Falcon and other assorted Rebellion ships to blast to pieces without a second thought merely cannon fodder with no personality or “story”. Hardly the sort of characters you will develop any sympathy for so, redressing the balance with this book is a novel and intriguing twist. On top of that, the writers are not afraid to kill someone and not in the way the Rogue Squadron tales did, keeping the key humans and writing off a couple of “non humans”/”aliens” (make of that what you will). The easy “Star Trek red shirt” option, let’s be honest. If this is indeed an “origin tale” and set to run and run then, yes, this is what Star Wars comics needed. A new take on the timeless that may have you looking at those poor eyeballs getting blasted in to smithereens with a new found sympathy next time you sit down to watch Star Wars. Count me in. Marv Gadgie

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