It is time for GRAND MOFF TARKIN to repay a long-standing debt to DARTH VADER…and settling what is owed will require every last bit of his cunning, and will cost more than he ever imagined.
Grand Moff Tarkin has setup an encampment at Chandar’s Folly in the Out Rim. He is there with a select crew of hunters who are there to help him hunt his prey. The unlikely prey is the Sith Lord himself, Darth Vader! This is the ninth day of the hunt and many hunters have already been lost.
Vader has gone ‘native’ within the surrounding hills and mountains of the area. He has taken the skin of a Valath, an apex predator on this planet, its skin which has chameleon like effect to change and blend in to his environment.
The next planned attack is by fire. This causes Vader to pause when attacked, but turns his attackers and their weapons fuel tanks into an inferno, engulfing them in flames. Attack after attack are planned and executed, with the same catastrophic results for his hunters. Vader takes damage to his armour in his stride and also loses his lightsaber, but aided by the Valath skin and switching off his armours life support does he strikes down the last hunter and now only he and Tarkin are left standing.
Vader retrieves his lightsaber as Tarkin runs firing back at Vader. He swats away the incoming fire with his blade and Tarkin stops in his track and throws away his weapon. He surrenders, dropping to his knees almost admitting defeat. A bolt of lightning strikes Vader from above incapacitating him. Tarkin calls for the Carrion Strike to pick him up. Vader had challenged Tarkin back on Coruscant to kill him if he could, he is so close. His hand slowly clenches and Tarkin feels his throat constrict. Thinking it his last breaths, he collapses next to Vader, but then he is released from his grip. Tarkin now realises the power and will of the man in the armour.
When I saw the direct edition cover at the back of issue 17, my excitement for this issue was already high. Seeing the cover on buying my copy, I just loved the artwork showing Tarkin hunting Vader. The variant cover for this issue is another striking Rod Reis offering of the Dark Lord of the Sith himself. The Galactic Icon variant series has been great, and the artwork very lifelike and accurate.
If you have read Tarkin by James Luceno, I think you will have a greater grasp of this comic. In the films, we only ever see Tarkin in a passive role on the bridge of the Death Star or a Star Destroyer, we never see him in action, but in this comic we finally do.
This issue shows more about Tarkin than Vader for me, but the key to it all is the relationship between the 2 of them. Vader challenges Tarkin to what is a hunt to the death, or near to it as possible in this case. But it is that new found mutual respect during the hunt that stops them from killing each other.
I am loving this Charles Soule series. This standalone issue, was quite unexpected at this point of the series, but the dynamic now means that we should get to see this duo work together in coming issues. We all know that from Princess Leia’s comments on the Death Star that Tarkin and Vader are seen as a double act in the Empire.
Where I have been critical previously, not just about this series, is the likeness of Tarkin. This is some of the best Tarkin artwork I have seen to date. This issue is dark, but colourful as well. A contradiction, but when you see the pages with flamethrowers, that explains my thinking.
One criticism, which is only minor. I would love to have seen what happened on days 1 to 8 as well.
Let’s see what else Mr. Soule and company have in store for us in issue 19 and beyond!
This issue was released on 11th July 2018 and is available via the Marvel App and all good comic book stores. This issue retails at $3.99.