The pilots of Shadow Wing make their introductions in the tie-in comic to the upcoming Alphabet Squadron novel in TIE Fighter #1.
Warning: This article includes plot points for TIE Fighter #1.
TIE Fighter #1
Story: Jody Houser | Art: Rogê Antônio & Michael Dowling | Color: Arif Prianto & Lee Loughridge | Cover Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti | Production Design: Nick Russell | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia
There is an old saying that “history is written by the winners.” From that perspective, one might view the Star Wars films, books, and comics as largely presenting a Republic, Rebellion, or Resistance point of view. But, what of the so called villains? Although featured in many pieces of canon and Legends material, the Separatist, Imperial, and First Order perspective comprises a small percentage of the available Star Wars material available to readers. Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars provided a rare instance in which both sides of the conflict found a voice. Jody Houser’s new limited series comic from Marvel, TIE Fighter, now provides an opportunity for the Imperials to be heard.
Meet Shadow Wing
The protagonists of this story are the pilots of Shadow Wing. Lead by Second Lt. Commander Teso Broosh, this squadron includes pilots of exceptional ability. They report to Commander Nuress, a.k.a. Grandmother, aboard the Imperial Star Destroyer Pursuer. Their specialty is suppression of “the Rebel insurgency.”
Shadow Wing features a diverse cast. Broosh is the seasoned leader who has a reputation, earned or not, of chewing up and spitting out expendable pilots in his wing. Senior Lietutenant Jeel Brebtin is the hyper focused and intense pilot of the group. Joining her is Lieutenant Lyttan Dree, who readers first met in the Han Solo: Imperial Cadet series. Also on the team is Flight Officer Zyn Graw, and she has a relationship with another Flight Officer stationed on the Pursuer, Ganem Kahi.
The Imperial Perspective
The pilots of Shadow Wing are not sinister individuals. They don’t dream of conquest and expanding the will of the Emperor across the galaxy. Instead, TIE Fighter #1 makes clear they are fighting for home, family, and friends. This is a theme Robbie Thompson explored with some of the cadets in Han Solo: Imperial Cadet. The biggest difference between the two series is that the pilots of Shadow Wing have experience unlike the cadets learning to fly TIE fighters. They also realize they are expendable components in the Empire’s war against chaos.
Commander Nuress embodies the Imperial perspective. She uses Rebellion and Separatists interchangeably when referring to the enemy. She even asks if there is any difference. To the Imperial eye, the Rebellion is the aggressor. Perhaps they are deliberately misinformed, but they view the Rebellion as a terrorist insurgency that attacked the Death Star and committed mass murder. The fact that the Death Star previously destroyed Alderaan is irrelevant or unknown to them. Furthermore, they don’t see the Rebellion as presenting a viable alternative to the Empire; the Rebellion’s only solution is “to burn it all down.”
However, they acknowledge there is a danger in even considering the Rebel perspective. When Ghan even suggests that there might be some Rebels with legitimate grievances or points, Brebtin quickly silences him lest he be overheard. Later, Graw gently corrects him to refer to the Empire instead of the Republic as the rightful government of the galaxy.
TIE Fighter #1 opens with Shadow Wing cleaning up leftover fighters at the end of a battle with Rebels. After some time to meet the pilots and set the overall story, the TIE Fighter #1 introduces the next story. The Imperial Star Destroyer Celerity has been disabled in a contested area of space and presents a tempting target for the Rebellion. Therefore, Shadow Wing is assigned the task of protecting the ship until repairs are made. Things take a turn for the worse when their carrier arrives in the Kudo system and is fired upon by the Celerity. In addition, the Celerity’s TIE fighters then engage Shadow Wing as the primary story of this issue ends and awaits a conclusion in TIE Fighter #2.
A Change of Heart
TIE Fighter #1 includes a secondary story. As it turns out, not everyone associated with Shadow Wing may support the Empire with every fiber of their being. This story features Zyn Graw and Yrica Quell. After Lt. Quell flies to Graw’s rescue during a battle, the two catch up later. Quell seems somber about the encounter and distracted in general after Graw thanks her for the assist.
As Graw wanders the halls, her thoughts drift to images of Rebel craft exploding in space, and she seems downtrodden. Finally, she finds a supply closet and retrieves a hidden communicator. Although TIE Fighter #1 doesn’t explicitly state who she communicates, the inference is that she may be contemplating working with the Rebellion. This could be misdirection though. However, Yrica Quell is the leader of the Alphabet Squadron that will be featured in an upcoming trilogy of novels written by Alexander Freed.
Concluding Thoughts on TIE Fighter #1
With TIE Fighter #1, Jody Houser proves once again that she has an incredible grasp on how to write a Star Wars story. The Age of Republic series recently concluded, and Houser wrote several phenomenal single issue stories there that convincingly captured the essence of a diverse range of characters. Rogê Antônio and Michael Dowling contribute excellent art for the series. TIE Fighter is off to an excellent start here.
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.