SPOILER REVIEW: "Star Wars #8: The Will of Tarkin, Part 2--Prey" by Charles Soule
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
"Star Wars #8: The Will of Tarkin, Part 2--Prey" written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Ramon Rosanas and Rachelle Rosenberg
So, oddly enough, this arc, "The Will of Tarkin," is over at only 2 issues. I guess the whole point was to set up Commander Ellian Zahra as the new villain. And with titles like first "Predators" and then "Prey" we do get a nicely divided succinct introduction. In "Predators" we learned some of Zahra's brutal past in regards to her tutelage under Tarkin and in "Prey" we see her take on her goal, Princess Leia Organa. But she doesn't intend on killing the Princess, not just yet at least, instead she plans on instilling fear in Leia, letting her experience the hatred that Zahra has for her. Zahra is truly a predator, after what she believes is easy prey.
We do back up a bit at the beginning of this issue and see just how Zahra received the assignment to find and pull together the various Rebel fleets. Palpatine says to Vader in his thrown room, "Thrawn or Tarkin would be perfect for the assignment--but both are gone, and few in my Empire rise to their level of skill. I do not like delaying your search for the son of Anakin Skywalker, Lord Vader, but perhaps you must be the one to hunt down the remaining Rebels." First off, I love that Palpatine notes Thrawn and Tarkin as his most capable men in hunting Rebels! And how he says they're both gone, Tarkin dead and Thrawn disappeared... When will we ever get that story?!? Then Vader responds, "No, there is another." as he mirrors Yoda in referencing Zahra as a capable person to hunt down Rebels as well.
After Vader discusses Zahra with Palpatine, Vader himself calls the woman over holo. Remember that she was demoted and left to carry out inconsequential tasks because she did not bring the head of the crime boss Burnium Ro to Tarkin but instead blew up his hideout, assuming he was dead...when he was not. Vader seeks her out and notes that she learned under Tarkin and thus knows his brutal and effective methods. She is all too willing to prove herself again. In talking with her, Vader even references Chandar's Folly from "Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith #18" in which Vader was hunted by nineteen people including Tarkin. Vader says he learned lessons from Tarkin that day... I know at least one of those was that Vader has limits on the distance his Force abilities are able to reach. Not sure about the rest of the lessons.
And then we're back in the present and the 7th and 4th Rebel fleets are attacking Zahra's Imperial assault group. Home One's hangar is being blockaded by TIE fighters, making it impossible for that portion of the fleet to release its own fighters. That is until Luke and his fighter group attack and break up the blockade releasing a barrage of new Rebel ships. Shara Bey is Green 3 in all of this so she's still noticeably in the mix. And Wedge makes an appearance as well as part of the Home One contingent.
After boarding Leia's ship in super scary Darth Vader fashion, Zahra turns off the limiters on the reactor and proclaims she will turn them back on if Leia meets her in the control room. Again, her goal is not to kill the princess, not yet, but is instead to weaken her and take her hope. Well, Zahra believes she does just this as she states, "She's not a fighter, she's a symbol. She helps the Rebels believe they can defeat any enemy. In order to do it, she has to believe it too. But I took that away." Hmmm...I'm not so sure about that. Leia does say that she sensed hate from Zahra but that doesn't translate to
Leia's hope being taken away. I mean, Leia is made up of mostly hope, it's gonna be a difficult quality to take from her... Toward the end of the confrontation, Luke also makes an appearance, complete with yellow lightsaber, and Zahra says that she has orders not to kill him. In the earlier Palpatine quote I spelled out, it is clear that (despite what we have seen most recently in the Vader comics) Palpatine wants Vader to hunt down Luke for himself. I guess it's just the way Vader does the hunting in the current "Darth Vader" series that makes Palpatine so angry??
SCORE: 8/10 This felt like a very succinct issue and yet we got more backstory as to how Zahra was chosen for this task. I am a little disappointed that the arc is already ending, but I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Zahra...
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