Shadow Wing regroups from their losses, learns of a possible traitor, and integrates two rookies into the squadron in TIE Fighter #4.
Warning: This article includes plot points for TIE Fighter #4.
TIE Fighter #4
Story: Jody Houser | Art: Rogê Antônio & Ig Guara | Color: Arif Prianto & Jean-François Beaulieu | Cover Artists: Tommy Lee Edwards | Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Production Design: Nick Russell | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia
Thus far, TIE Fighter has demonstrated that the pilots of Shadow Wing are among the elite in the Empire. Therefore, they get the toughest missions. Life for a TIE Fighter pilot doesn’t come with a long life expectancy though, and for the pilots of Shadow Wing, the odds are even tougher. Squadron Five was reminded of that in TIE Fighter #3 when they suffered two casualties during their mission to defend, and then recover, the Imperial Star Destroyer Celerity. While dealing with loss is never easy, Squadron Five learns that one of their fallen comrades may have been intending to defect to the Rebellion as TIE Fighter #4 begins.
A Rebellious Quandary
Colonel Shakara Nuress delivers the news to the remaining pilots of Squadron Five that Zyn Graw might possibly have been planning to defect to the Rebellion in TIE Fighter #4. This seems impossible to pilot Ganem Kahi, who was her boyfriend. For that matter, it is shocking news to the rest of the squadron. After all, Zyn was just killed by the Rebellion during their last mission. Only Jeela Brebtin is ready to accept the evidence at face value, but even she offered evidence in support of Zyn’s loyalty. Lt. Commander Broosh offers a potential explanation that perhaps Zyn was gathering intel to take to her superiors. Unfortunately, Squadron Five will never know the truth because the Empire was unable to interrogate her.
The truth, though, is that more than likely, Zyn was in fact planning a defection to the Rebellion, or she was giving them Imperial intel. TIE Fighter #1 teased this very thing in its backup story. In that issue, Zyn had even gone so far as to counsel Ganem from uttering what might be construed as pro-Rebellion sympathies. Therefore, his shock is understandable.
The revelation about Zyn’s potential as a Rebel spy has ramifications for the pilots in TIE Fighter #3. Despite his kind words about Zyn, Broosh is angry. He should have seen the betrayal coming. In addition, Ganem’s judgment is now called into question. In a squadron where trust is everything, this is a serious problem. Broosh proclaims Ganem would have been kicked out if the need for pilots wasn’t so bad. Broosh’s anger and frustration are understandable. He has a reputation, fair or not, of grinding through pilots. It is possible that Zyn betrayed their mission to recover the Celerity to the Rebellion not understanding what the consequences would be. In addition, Zyn’s betrayal might just have gotten Lyttan Dree killed in action.
The other ramification is that Squadron Five needs two new pilots. That is a problem in and of itself. The Empire has a shortage. Therefore, two cadets, trained by flight instructor Yurib Nakan (last seen in Han Solo: Imperial Cadet), are called up to take Zyn and Lyttan Dree’s place. Broosh and the rest of the squad don’t welcome this development, but there isn’t any alternative.
Zyn’s potential defection did have a benefit to the Empire. Colonel Nuress explains in TIE Fighter #4 that Zyn’s transmissions were traced to a suspected rendezvous point for defecting Imperials and Rebels. They had never been able to find it before because they were looking for a base. Instead, the Rebels were using a ship. Squad Five, with their new recruits (Rac Syrmo and Bansu Ro), are tasked with destroying the Rebel ship while the rest of the 204th and other elements of the Empire coordinate attacks elsewhere that Nuress believes will destroy the Rebellion in a matter of days. It is unclear what this offensive is by the Empire is at this point, and Nuress doesn’t provide any additional concrete details. Despite the lack of details, from the context, it is likely that Nuress has knowledge of the impending attack of the Rebels against the second Death Star. The Emperor is still alive at this point. He and other Imperial officers were confident the Rebellion would be crushed when they attacked. Of course, they were very wrong.
A Visit to Grandma
The final pages of TIE Fighter #4 feature Ganem in his days before joining the Imperial Naval Academy. He visits his grandmother, and they talk about the honor of the family tradition of flying for the Republic in the past and now the Empire. Ganem’s grandmother has an endearing tendency to call the Empire “the Republic.” In that way, she has a similar problem to Colonel Nuress, who often refers to the Rebellion as “the Separatists.” Coincidentally, Nuress’s nickname among her pilots is “Grandmother.”
Ganem exhibited some Rebellion sympathies earlier in this series. This story explains where he might have acquired them from. His grandmother had no love for the Jedi, who she called a “religious cult,” but she doesn’t have a lot of respect for the Emperor either. She believes in the Republic, and she is adamant that the Emperor is just a man that will one day be gone. She doesn’t express any support for the Rebellion, but she believes in family and “the heart of the Republic.” If that doesn’t describe the Rebellion, nothing does. In the end, Grandma Ganem believes in her family and their traditions and their ability to last well beyond the era of the Empire.
Final Thoughts on TIE Fighter #4
TIE Fighter #4 serves as an excellent and penultimate issue for the series. It neatly describes the state of the Empire. They are short on pilots, and to a lesser degree, resources. Colonel Nuress plays a prominent role in Alexander Freed’s tie-in novel, Alphabet Squadron. Things for the Empire haven’t yet deteriorated to the level of desperation she faces later. The Emperor still lives, and the Rebellion is a nuisance that will soon be wiped out. Even though the Empire is typically portrayed as the villains in Star Wars, TIE Fighter humanizes them quite a bit. Or, at least it humanizes the men and women of its armed forces. Broosh and his pilots believe in the order the Empire brings. Despite wearing matching flight helmets that wipe out their individuality, they are people with their own hopes, dreams, loves, and desires. It is hard not to share their frustration in this issue, even if the reader’s frustration is tinged at least a little by the loss of a potential Rebel.
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.