Shadow Wing has a mission to complete in TIE Fighter #3 and they will see it through no matter the cost. Plus, the Imperials are capable of sympathy.
Warning: This article includes plot points for TIE Fighter #3.
TIE Fighter #3
Story: Jody Houser | Art: Rogê Antônio & Geraldo Borges | Color: Arif Prianto & Lee Loughridge | Cover Artists: Tommy Lee Edwards | Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Production Design: Nick Russell | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia
Across the current Star Wars canon and the Legends continuity, the pilots and stormtroopers are frequently portrayed as expendable cannon fodder. By contrast, the heroes and soldiers of the Rebellion usually feature as soldiers dedicated to the cause that are willing to sacrifice everything for their ideals and the good of the Rebellion, their comrades, and freedom across the galaxy. There is the occasional story, such as Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars, in which the Imperials become sympathetic and even heroic, but those stories are few. TIE Fighter #3 now provides readers with another example of Imperial heroes fighting for order, loyalty, and their fellow soldiers.
Not Just Pilots
TIE Fighter #2 made clear that the pilots of Shadow Wing are more than just fighter jockeys. They were initially tasked with protecting the Imperial Star Destroyer Celerity at the Imperial Mining Facility in the Kudo System. However, when they arrived, they discovered that Admiral Gratloe has abandoned the Empire, assumed possession of the Star Destroyer, and carved out a demesne for himself and like minded former Imperials.
Gratloe attempts a clumsy recruitment of Shadow Squadron. Commander Broosh played along long enough to buy themselves to begin an escape. They came to get a Star Destroyer, and they are going to leave with a Star Destroyer. When they begin their escape efforts, they demonstrate martial prowess as they work their way towards the landing platforms where their TIE Interceptors are kept.
As mentioned in the review of TIE Fighter #2, the pilots of Shadow Wing seem similar to the pilots of Inferno Squadron from Battlefront II. Unfortunately, they don’t get much opportunity to demonstrate their skills with the martial arts. Once they make progress towards the landing field, they encounter a squad of stormtroopers, not all of which are happy to have betrayed the Empire. But, this is a story about TIE Fighter pilots, and TIE Fighter #3 properly returns the story to where it belongs with the pilots inside the cockpit of their craft.
For the Empire
Commander Broosh and the pilots of Shadow Wing set off a mutiny at the Kudo System. Their arrival and mission to recapture the Celerity spreads like wildfire. Before long, those loyal to the Empire, and there are plenty of them, rally to take back what belongs to the Emperor. Commander Broosh and his squad quickly set course for the Celerity and they are met with stiff resistance. They do have Imperial loyalists on their side, and the battle is quickly joined. Just when it looks like Shadow Wing has victory in hand, tragedy strikes.
Lieutenant Lyttan is engaged is some pilot bragaddocio when his TIE Interceptor takes a blast. He is gone in an instant. Considering the role Lyttan played in Han Solo: Imperial Cadet, this is a very surprising casualty for Shadow Wing. Furthermore, the blast doesn’t just come from anywhere. The Rebellion has arrived. Despite Admiral Gratloe’s speech, his motive is profit and he intends to sell the Celerity to the Rebellion.
Facing overwhelming odds and suffering from the loss of Lyttan, Shadow Wing decides to make for the Celerity. Before they get far, Ganem Kahi takes some damage. His girlfriend and fellow pilot Zin Graw reassures him that she has him covered. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last and Zin perishes under Rebel fire. The remainder makes it to the Celerity. When they get there, they discover that loyalists are in control of the Destroyer. Jeela attempts to comfort Ganem with the knowledge that Zin would have been happy they completed the mission, but it is a cold comfort and Ganem doesn’t buy it.
Six Months Ago
The remainder of TIE Fighter #3 is devoted to a story that took place six months ago. Commander Broosh is inspecting his TIE Interceptor in the hangar when he is approached by Major Keize. Keize wants Broosh to take over as squadron leader for squadron five. Despite his misgivings as acting in a leadership role, Broosh agrees to the promotion after Keize convinces him of his worthiness because of the concern he has for his fellow pilots.
Although he has a small role in TIE Fighter #3, Keize is an important figure. He is in the background of Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron as a pilot counted on by command and revered by his subordinates. This issue provides some background to justify his reputation.
Final Thoughts on TIE Fighter #3
TIE Fighter #3 doesn’t do much to change the high casualty rate of Imperial pilots. Shadow Wing lost two of its five pilots. However, TIE Fighter #3 humanized the pilots. They are typically portrayed as faceless. Unlike Rebel pilots, their features are usually hidden behind black flight helmets. Star Wars audiences typically don’t see the banter and communications between pilots during battle. Instead, the focus is on the underdog heroes in the Rebellion. TIE Fighter #3, as well as the rest of the series, demonstrates that the pilots are more than just cannon fodder.
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.