Tarkin reflects on lessons from his past when instilling order and discipline aboard the Death Star Star Wars: Age of Rebellion – Grand Moff Tarkin #1.
Warning: This article contains plot points for Star Wars: Age of Rebellion – Grand Moff Tarkin #1.
Grand Moff Tarkin #1
Story: Greg Pak | Art: Marc Laming | Color: Jordan Boyd and Neeraj Menon | Lettering: VC’s Travis Lanham | Cover Artists: Terry and Rachel Dodson | Production Designer: Anthony Gambino | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia
Readers familiar with the current Star Wars canon may remember Tarkin by James Luceno. In Tarkin, Luceno explored the background of the Grand Moff as he grew from a young privileged young child into a disciplined young man. Under the tutelage of his uncle, Jova, Tarkin learned that in the galaxy, either you killed, or you were killed. There was no room in the middle. The lessons that Tarkin learned as a young man inform his command style as evident in Star Wars: Age of Rebellion – Grand Moff Tarkin #1.
Not Krennic’s Death Star
With some flashback aside, Grand Moff Tarkin #1 spans the time period from after Rogue One into the events of A New Hope. After the Battle of Scarif, Tarkin directs his men in a simulation in which they are firing on an inhabited world. Importantly, this world has never done anything to the Empire. After Tarkin gives the command to fire, the simulation fails because several gunners failed to perform their duties in the proper sequence. Sensing reluctance, Tarkin orders all the gunners assembled. Ultimately, he chastises the assembled gunners for a lack of discipline acquired under Director Krennic’s leadership. However, that isn’t necessarily all that Tarkin was thinking.
Lessons from His Past
Grand Moff Tarkin #1 features one of Tarkin’s early lessons from his Uncle Jova. On the plains of Eriadu, Tarkin’s homeworld, a young Wilhuff Tarkin is pursued by ravenous beasts. When he appeals to his uncle for assistance, Jova reminds him that he is a Tarkin and either he kills or he faces a fate left unsaid. The implication is that one kills or is killed.
Tarkin translates this lesson in the present to the Empire and its soldiers. He asks one of the gunners, a Chief Gunner Endo Frant, to remove his helmet, roll up his sleeves, and show Tarking his scars. Other than an old sports injury, Frant has none. Tarkin envisions teaching him the harsh lessons he learned on Eriadu. His daydream features Tarkin stripping down to his waist, revealing his own collection of scars, and then fighting Frant with a dagger made from the claw of one of the beasts from his past. If Frant survives, he gets a promotion. Alternatively, he dies and his men learn the lesson. Tarkin comes too with the harsh lesson but a fantasy, but he has stern words for the men.
Tarkin’s lesson in Grand Moff Tarkin #1 is spelled out by the Grand Moff just in case one misses it. The Rebellion is a gang of murderous thugs. Either the Empire kills them, or they will kill every soldier in the Empire. Just like back home on Eriadu for Tarkin.
A Second and Final Chance
Grand Moff Tarkin #1 catches up to A New Hope when Leia is brought to the bridge of the Death Star and given a choice: either reveal the location of the Rebel base, or watch as Alderaan is destroyed. Despite surrendering the location of a base on Dantooine, Tarkin orders the destruction of Alderaan. This time the gunners do their job. Alderaan is destroyed. However, Tarkin still isn’t pleased.
Once Alderaan is rubble, Tarkin orders data collected from bio-scanners in the gunners’ helmets analyzed. After that is done, Tarkin discovers that a number of gunners still hesitated. Despite a successful operation, the men Tarkin trusted hesitated to do their duty. Tarkin questions Frant directly: he was from Alderaan. Challenged thusly, Frant throws back in Tarkin’s face how he would like it if it was Tarkin’s homeworld that was threatened. Without missing a beat, Tarkin said he wouldn’t hesitate to do his duty.
None of the gunners learned the lesson: kill or be killed. Hesitation won’t do. Tarkin gave them an option earlier: if they couldn’t do their duty as commanded, they could be sent to a labor colony. The Empire needed cold blooded killers in its ranks after all. Their hesitation is a weakness that Tarkin can’t tolerate. Therefore, he flushes them out the airlock.
Final Thoughts on Grand Moff Tarkin #1
Grand Moff Tarkin #1 is a great supplement to Luceno’s Tarkin. Fans of the novel should really enjoy this issue of Age of Rebellion. He was a ruthless and loyal agent of the Empire in A New Hope. His ambition rose to the surface in Rogue One. All of that is emphasized here. He dedication to service and destroying the Rebellion define him. Like Darth Vader, Tarkin has no use for the soldiers in the Empire that fail him. It is an interesting theme, and although consistency is appreciated, it does raise a question as to how the Empire found so many loyal soldiers in the first place.
The Age of Republic series written by Jody Houser frequently told complimentary stories featuring an issue with a hero and a villain exploring a similar theme. Qui-gon and Darth Maul explored balance in the Force for instance. Grand Moff Tarkin #1 and Princess Leia #1 don’t line up as quite as neatly. If anything, there is a contrast in that Tarkin relies on lessons from his past to create a structure for the men under his command in the present. Conversely, Leia learned how to adapt as the Princess of Alderaan, and therefore, she used that flexibility to survive. Regardless, Pak has written two outstanding issues of the Age of Rebellion series so far.
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.