Comic Review: Age of Rebellion – Grand Moff Tarkin (2019) #1

Published: April 10, 2019
Writer: Greg Pak
Penciler: Marc Laming
Cover Artist: Terry Dodson

The synopsis;

THE SOUL OF THE DEATH STAR! The EMPIRE has built the deadliest weapon the galaxy has ever seen. But even the most ruthless Imperial officer might hesitate before unleashing the DEATH STAR’s power to kill millions in an instant. Behold the secret story of GRAND MOFF TARKIN, the horrors that honed his resolve and the terrifying steps he takes to ensure that the Death Star lives up to its deadly name!

The story;

On Eriadu, in the outer rim, a young boy flees calling after his uncle for help. Help is refused and he is left to fight to the death. 2 beasts attack him and he is pinned, only for him to reach out for one of the creature’s claws and break it free.

On the bridge of the Death Star, Grand Moff Tarkin orders Admiral Motti to announce the details of their target Rango Tan to the gunners and crew. It is a primitive neutral world and is also their target for a test firing of the super laser. The command for ignition is given, for moments later a cry to abort breaks. Although only a simulation Tarkin is displeased that have had to abort and wishes to speak with all the gunners.

On parade the gunners await Tarkin. He arrives and moves to face Endo Frant, chief gunner, requests him to hand over his helmet and roll up his sleeves. He has no scars on his arms and this seems to disappoint Tarkin, but Frant offer to show him a scar on his knee, but is then struck in the face with his own helmet. Tarkin removes his jacket to reveal his muscly, but heavily scarred torso. A grav-ball scar is nothing and he asks for the bloodied Frant to be armed with a vibroblade. He refuses to fight the Grand Moff, but he is offered a promotion to captain should he survive. Tarkin pulls out a blade made from the claw of a beast and attacks Frant, quickly driving home his advantage and overpowering the gunner.

Tarkin snaps out of his day dream, Frant stoops to show Tarkin his grav-ball scar and he reminds the gunners of their work at Jedha and Scarif. Their next task will be destroy a whole planet and if anyone ever hesitates again they will be decommissioned to the labour colonies.

Darth Vader and Princess Leia stand in front of Tarkin with a familiar planet featured on the display screen. After much deliberation, he issues the command to destroy Alderaan and the planet disappears from the galaxy in an all mighty explosion.

On analysis, there were some gunners who hesitated in the sequence of discharging the weapon. Tarkin wishes to meet with them in bay 12. The gunners assemble in the bay and Tarkin confronts them. He advises them of their error and turns to Frant. Alderaan was Frant´s home world, he pleads with Tarkin and asks how he would react if requested to destroy his home world. Tarkin would undertake this with pleasure and turns to walk away from the gunners.  The bay doors shut trapping the gunners and the airlock is opened, jettisoning them into the void of space.

Looking out of the window of his quarters, Tarkin watches the gunners bodies float away from the space station. He looks over to knife made from a claw and opens his tunic to admire his scars.

The review;

Here we go again, there are plenty of cover variants to be getting on with once more! Terry and Rachel Dodson have been enlisted to produce the direct edition covers for this series and from the previews we’ve seen so far, I really do think these are magnificent. Again, there is a movie still for the Lucasfilm cover; the second part of the Age of Rebellion Puzzle Piece from Mike McKone and Guru-eFX and lastly there is a piece of Ian McCaig concept art. For me the direct edition cover is the one that stands out from the pack.

I’m sorry, but I can’t contain myself and before I go any further before I must blurt out ‘I LOVED IT!’ and the reasons for this sudden outburst are plentiful.

Greg Pak has caught the essence of Tarkin brilliantly. The story proves that he definitely did his research before going into this project. The tie in with the James Luceno novel, Tarkin brought a huge smile to my face. The Tarkin novel was brilliant and to see some of those words brought to life in the first 2 pages of this issue were a joy. I did wonder at one point where this was going when we saw Tarkin have a Kylo Ren moment when stripped to the waist and taking on his chief gunner.

The feeling I get from reading this story is ‘old school’ and as it encompasses a major event from A New Hope, it gives the story more credence. We all know that there is an arrogance and an abrasiveness to Tarkin’s character, this is there to see on screen and the way this is pulled over onto the page is clever. The ‘day dream’ fight with Frant made me sit up and think, and then a wry smile appeared when I realised what had really happened. I enjoyed the twist around Frant hailing from Alderaan and his subsequent demise. His questioning of Tarkin’s own response if he were commanded to destroy Eriadu reflects heavily on the events of the Luceno novel.

The artwork from Marc Laming is of the highest order and the likenesses are exceptional. Laming has been teasing for months now on social media of his work in progress for this series and I never tire of this. It gives a great look at the creative process, but also shows how much intricate works goes into producing each panel. I feel like Laming tweeted every panel out, but I still didn’t get where the story would go from his ‘spoilers’.

I can’t finish off without giving a shout out to Jordan Boys and Neeraj Menon for their awesome colouring skills which help make this a really strong and virtually faultless second issue of the series.

Bria LaVorgna is back again for this issue, summarising Tarkin with her accompanying brief on Tarkin called ‘Influential to the Last‘. A good piece giving an overview of Tarkin’s character.

In oozing my praise all over there is one minor issue to report. The misspelling of Coruscant as ‘Corsucant’ in the conversation between Tarkin and Frant is forgivable. I won’t lay any blame on Travis Lanham for this lettering error, as it should have been picked up before going to print.

Interestingly, Greg Pak has been announced at Star Wars Celebration Chicago as the writer to take over from Kieron Gillen on the Star Wars main title series from issue 68 onwards and is being teamed up with artist Phil Noto. A surprise choice? To me, yes, as I had hoped Charles Soule would be selected, but after the first 2 issues of this series, I have a good feeling about this.

I have already browsed my book shelves for a certain novel that may just have to be reread in the coming weeks and if you haven’t’ read it yourself, it’s well worth the read.

I’m really looking forward to the next issue.

Availability;

This issue was released on 10th April 2019 and is available via the Marvel App and all good comic book stores. This issue retails at $3.99.