SPOILER REVIEW - "Star Wars #7: The Will of Tarkin, Part 1: Predators" by Charles Soule
This issue was absolutely exceptional!! We had canon connections aplenty (to Rogue One, the Tarkin novel, and the "Poe Dameron" long-run comic series) plus another High Republic reference. I love it when they carry over material in this way, making it such a reward to have read all that came before. And we get a great deal of backstory (which I always adore) on Commander Zahra and how she rose through the Imperial ranks. We even learn how she escaped "The Death Star Tragedy"--it all has to do with a moment of rock bottom embarrassment turned good fortune.
We start aboard Commander Zahra's Star Destroyer, Tarkin's Will. Zahra has just received word that the positions of the Fourth and Seventh Divisions of the Rebel Fleet have been triangulated. Although the Seventh is closer to her position, she desperately wants to go after the Fourth since Leia is in charge. Her officers ponder, "People said Organa was linked to the plans being stolen--she had some connection to that traitor Galen Erso." This is our first Rogue One reference--any mention of an Erso gets me all super excited!! Another officer responds that for Zahra, with Leia, it's personal, but doesn't seem to know what that personal issue exactly is--something we're, according to next issue's synopsis, going to find out soon!!
Then we go to Eriadu, years earlier, and re-visit the Carrion Plateau where much of the Tarkin novel took place. This Plateau is where members of the Tarkin family go to prove their worth against a violent and vicious albino Veermok. Only after surviving for a period of time on the Plateau, can they be considered fully accepted members of the Tarkin clan. In this particular re-visit to the famed location, Tarkin is an officer with his ship the Carrion Spike (named after the Plateau) and has three proteges: Beldin, Hannevik, and Zahra. The three young Imperial upstarts are tasked with bringing the Veermok's head back to Tarkin. Zahra is the only one to return, and she comes back with the prize...and news, "The day the terrorists killed my parents, I understood that life has no interest in playing fair. Since that day, I have seen with my eyes, not my hopes. For instance, here, I saw immediately that you sent us to hunt three quarries--not just the Veermok. The others took longer, but in the end, I helped them understand. When it came down to it, they were...unworthy." *Shiver* This woman is cold, relentless, calculating, and the perfect learner under Tarkin who is all of those things and more!
Sometime later, on the Death Star, we get Director Krennic action!!! This is our second Rogue One reference and the man is just as whiney and fed up as ever...I am so here for it!! "If you would just get out of my way and let me do my job, Governor Tarkin, you would see that your concerns about Project Stardust are utterly unfounded." Zahra stands to the side during this exchange, learning from Tarkin's dejarik-move-like powerplays.
Our final canon connection is a warlord named Burnium Ro on Ikkrukk (the planet where the last few issues of the "Poe Dameron" long-run comic series took place and where part of the beginning of the novel Resistance Reborn takes place)!! We even get mention of Grail City, the capital featured in both sources! Tarkin sets Zahra on a mission to bring back Burnium Ro's head after he explains, "This man Ro is utilizing rhetoric and imagery associated with an obsolete criminal organization known as the Nihil. At one point, this group wreaked great havoc across a wide swath of the galaxy. They were agents of chaos." And this is our ever-present High Republic connection as they are the bad guys in the upcoming publishing campaign! Unfortunately, Zahra simply strafes Ro's compound with canon fire and after finding no life signs, proclaims he's dead...not bringing back his head. And...he survives, spreading news of the attack on the ShadowFeed. Tarkin's response? "A Tarkin looks their enemy in the eye and puts a blade in their throat." He is much displeased with Zahra and refuses to see her at all afterward, putting in a request that she go to Personnel and receive a reassignment. This is what saves her from being destroyed on the Death Star! She's embarrassed and frustrated but let's the officer guarding Tarkin's door know that she understands her previous mentor's perspective. So she flies off, stealing a shuttle, and setting off to follow a lead on Burnium Ro's whereabouts on her own just as the Death Star explodes!
We end with the Fourth and Seventh Divisions of the Rebel Fleet ensnaring Zahra's Imperial fleet in a pincer maneuver. Will Leia prevail?? Or will Zahra find a way out of the trap?? And what is this tightly held secret between the two women?? I cannot wait to find out!!
Score 9/10 - With canon connections and backstory this issue was a huge hit in my book!
"Star Wars #7: The Will of Tarkin, Part 1: Predators" written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Ramon Rosanas and Rachelle Rosenberg
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