Published: April 17, 2019
Rating: Rated T
Writer: Jody Houser
Penciler: Rogê Antônio & Michael Dowling
Cover Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti
ENTER SHADOW WING! THE EMPIRE’S SALVATION! THE REBELLION’S DOOM! As the war against the REBELLION stretches on, it is the innocent people of the GALACTIC EMPIRE who are most at risk. An elite squadron of TIE fighter pilots is assembled to help protect Imperial interests and hammer the Emperor’s fury down upon the treasonous and violent Rebel Alliance. But how far is this untested team willing to go to preserve law and order? And are the pilots of SHADOW WING as loyal to the Empire as they seem? This April, JODY HOUSER (THRAWN, AGE OF REPUBLIC) and ROGÊ ANTÔNIO’s (X-MEN RED) TIE fighter tale chronicles the struggles and triumphs of the heroes of the Empire in the last days of civil war — but what about the heroes of the Rebellion? Be sure to pick up the first book of TIE FIGHTER’s sister novel series, STAR WARS: ALPHABET SQUAD by Alexander Freed. From Del Rey Books, on sale this June.
Issue one of A Shadow Falls, opens with Shadow Squadron defeating an x-wing before it is able to make the jump to lightspeed. Once this is completed, the squadron head back to their star destroyer, the Pursuer. When on board, we are introduced to the pilots that make up the team: Dree, who seems to have a thing for Brebtin; Brebtin who is rather intense; Graw and Kahi who are in a relationship and the Commander of the squadron, Broosh.
The pilots are given a new mission by their commander, who is nicknamed Grandmother. She explains to the squadron that the Emperor has a new strategy and all forces are being drawn together. However, one star destroyer (Celerity) is having hyperdrive issues and Grandmother wants Shadow Squadron to escort.
The squadron are packed onto a transport called The Summit. In the mess hall, Kahi is starting to be a little outspoken before his team mates tell him to be quiet, that they don’t know who might be listening. We see the rest of the pilots prepping for their mission. Dree and Broosh share a drink, while Brebtin is practicing firing her side arm.
As The Summit drops out of hyperspace, they find that there is no response from Celerity. Shadow Squadron launch, only to see an ion blast hit The Summit. The pilots quickly realise it came from the Celerity and that a horde of TIE fighters are about to engage.
We then are taken back several days, with a different artist, where we see a Lieutenant Quell saving Graw from some Rebels. Graw returns to her room, getting a comm from a secret location and saying she is ready, presumably to the Rebels…
A new mini series? Marvel has had a very hit and miss track record with these since they took over the license, which makes me always very anxious when a new series begins. Going into this, I wasn’t sure what to expect. With a name like TIE fighter, I was thinking battles, dogfights and plenty of action. Let me start by saying that this issue has very little of any of this in. Now for a comic that is about TIE fighters, this would usually ring alarm bells, yet here, you can see that Houser is laying down a lot of groundwork for the future issues. The time is taken to introduce us to the pilots and other characters. Too often, authors going rushing in with the action, without us, as the reader, knowing or caring for the characters. Houser does not make that mistake. What comes across, at least for me, is a very Rogue Squadron feel, and by that I mean the series by Michael Stackpole. Those books (and comics) were some of the very best in the Legends timeline. They didn’t rush the story, you got to know the characters and the drama behind them. TIE Fighter gives me that feel as well. You also can’t help feel that Houser has taken her cues from Battlestar Galactica, which the ship, Pursuer, is a living ship with real people on board. All this adds to a fantastic atmosphere for this issue, which seems to be far more than just about TIE fighters.
Of course, this story is coming from a completely different viewpoint, and it is very interesting to see this. It introduces us to a very human side of the Empire (Much in the same way that Lost Stars did). The people fighting for the Empire don’t believe they are in the wrong, that they are doing what is best for the galaxy. Kahi mentions that the Rebels caused mass destruction by blowing up the Death Star. An interesting take, considering that the Empire blew up Alderaan, but it does show how the Imperial propaganda machine spun the events of A New Hope to make the Rebels be the perceived ‘bad guys’. You could argue how could the Empire get away with such a thing, yet in the same page, we then see Kahi warned about what he is saying. There are spies everywhere and if anyone dares question the Empire, they will be gone. Again, that Battlestar Galactica feel comes back, who can you really trust?
We also get a secondary story, only a few pages long, that I was quite surprised to find. Zin Graw, at least I’m presuming, is a Rebel spy. I’m not quite sure how I feel about us finding out about this so soon, although just like Battlestar Galactica, we also find out about the character that Graw is most like (Shannon) in the first ‘movie’. Houser could make this work incredibly well with the ticking time bomb method, we know that Graw is the traitor, when will the others find out, what will be their reactions. Her relationship with Kahi will make the revelation very intriguing to see, as he already seems to be wavering in his faith in the Empire.
The artwork in this issue is a delight. It carries you through the story flawlessly and again, gives that Rogue Squadron feel. I look forward to seeing more of Antônio’s work, particularly when the action gets heated up!
It may seem that I’m saying that a lot of the points in this story are similar to others that have come before. But let’s look at the list: Battlestar Galactica, Rogue Squadron and Lost Stars. These are some of the most well written material in Star Wars and television. The fact that this first issue has similarities to these amazing works, shows just how much potential this series has. Yes there isn’t a lot of action in this comic, but I’m sure Houser has a lot more in store for us in the coming issues. And if she can produce anything half as good as the materials I’ve already mentioned, then this is going to be one heck of a series. Marvel does have an issue with consistency, but I don’t think TIE Fighter is going to be one of them, and I for one cannot wait to see where Houser takes us next…
Star Wars: TIE Fighter is a five part series available from Marvel. This issue is available via the Marvel App and all good comic book stores. This issue retails at $3.99.