TIE Fighter #5 Review

by Dennis Keithly

Shadow Wing regroups to win the battle, but the Empire just lost the war as the series comes to an end in TIE Fighter #5.

Warning: This article includes plot points for TIE Fighter #5.

TIE Fighter #5 Cover

TIE Figher #5

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

Over the course of TIE Fighter, Squadron Five of Shadow Wing has integrated pilots in the squad, infiltrated and defeated a defecting splinter of the Empire, recovered a Star Destroyer, dealt with the loss of wing mates, and confronted the possibilities of traitors in the squad. Finally, in TIE Fighter #5, victory is at hand. Victory for the Empire over the Rebellion and redemption for Squad Five. Rumors from the upper brass have circulated that the Rebellion is about to be crushed. In the meantime, Squad Five is deployed to bring down a secret Rebel recruitment base. By the end of TIE Fighter #5, Squad Five wins the battle, but the Empire just lost the war.

Lessons of Politics and Philosophy

As Squad Five plans and implements their attack, a few telling details about politics and warfare come to the front. First, the Empire is deeply offended that the Rebellion would poach their soldiers and pilots. Second, the Imperials view this as the “Rebels war.” This discussion brings to mind the debate about responsibility for war from the “Defenders of Peace” episode of The Clone Wars. During that episode, Aayla Secura debated with Tee Watt Kaa of the Lurmen the Jedi’s complicity in the Clone Wars given that they didn’t start it, but only wanted to finish it. Tee Watt Kaa had a stiff rebuke for her. It didn’t matter who started the war and who only wanted to finish it. Both sides are responsible, and neither side could excuse any atrocities they committed during the war in the name of ending it.

TIE Fighter #5

Not at the Academy Anymore

As Squad Five, supported by TIE bombers, makes their attack on the Rebel transport serving as their recruitment base, they also struggle to integrate two rookie pilots fresh from the academy. It isn’t an easy integration and transition. For one, the rookies are piloting standard TIE fighters compared to the TIE interceptors of Squad Five. Their ships are less maneuverable and less fast. Commander Broosh won’t hear their excuses as to why they can’t keep up. As far as he is concerned a good pilot can compensate. It is hardly a fair rebuke. After all, Broosh and his squadmates are experienced pilots. In addition, they were just lamenting in TIE Fighter #4 that they were saddled with less experienced pilots from the academy. This isn’t ideal for anyone.

In addition, the inexperience of Cadet Syrmo costs the Empire a TIE bomber and its pilot. Although Syrmo was able to destroy an X-Wing pursuing a TIE bomber, the damage to the X-Wing from his shot caused it to careen into the bomber. Jeela Brebtin, a more experienced pilot, then reprimands him for his decision and tells him that if he can’t see the bigger picture, then leave it to the veterans. Again, this is a bit unfair. How is the rookie to know? The cadets were thrust into active duty when they hadn’t even graduated yet.

Rebel Attack

The Conclusion of TIE Fighter #5

Starting in TIE Fighter #4, the Imperial pilots and officers began excusing the reduction in resources because of a widespread belief that some large scale military offensive was going to wipe out the Rebellion. Broosh made due with two rookie pilots for this reason. The Rebels were down to their last days, so all they had to do was hold out just a little longer. However, the end of TIE Fighter #5 changes everything.

After successfully completing their mission, the pilots of Squad Five return to their carrier. As they reflect on the mission, an emergency broadcast blares from the intercom. The Rebels launched a major attack. The Death Star that was under construction was destroyed. The Emperor was aboard and is presumed dead. They are to standby for further orders. After absorbing the initial shock, Broosh advises his pilots: they await further orders, because, after all, they are Imperial pilots of the 204th. Nothing can change that.

Final Thoughts on TIE Fighter

Overall, TIE Fighter #5 did well to wrap up the TIE Fighter series. It showed what these pilots were capable of, and it did well to provide some background details for Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron. The main characters got a big victory, but the end of the series ushered them towards the status of the Empire at the beginning of Alphabet Squadron with Shadow Wing preparing to assist in the execution of Operation: Cinder. They have no Emperor, but they are loyal Imperial pilots that are ready to destroy the insurgent Rebellion.

In many ways, Jody Houser’s TIE Fighter series was better than Alphabet Squadron. For one, as a comic, it had an opportunity to portray dog fighting between the Rebellion and the Empire fighters in a way a novel never could. Beyond that, the battles just made sense. The pilots of Alphabet Squadron relied on some elaborate plans that didn’t afford them the opportunity to actually fly against their opponents. The prose often got in the way of the action. In TIE Fighter, the action was crisp and the story was tight. Even the backup stories at the end of each issue conveyed plenty about the characters in a brief space. In short, this series was well written.

Considering that Alphabet Squadron is a trilogy, this may not be the last that readers see Shadow Wing. There is plenty of potential for more tie-in stories in the future.

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