There’s a classic, endlessly memed joke – from the first episode of British 2006 sketch comedy show That Mitchell and Webb Look – where two Nazi soldiers suddenly come to the realisation that, given the symbolism used on their black uniforms, they might be the villains. “Are we the baddies?”, one of them questions the other.
There’s a danger here that the baddies will be glorified, that we’ll see the heroism and derring do of TIE Fighter pilots just doing their jobs – just following orders – despite the fact that they’re essentially committing atrocities and whatever passes for war crimes in the Star Wars universe.
Yet thankfully, this tale of a specific elite TIE squadron – Shadow Wing – set shortly after the events of The Empire Strikes Back, is much more nuanced than that.
The squadron, following a successful mission, seem to have the stirrings of their own ‘are we the baddies’ moment, but it’s quickly shut down for fear of reprisals. They’re soon off on another mission to protect a Star Destroyer from the Rebellion, but a strange, unforeseen situation develops that may lead them back to their earlier conversation after all…
It’s a very well written and genuinely compelling first issue; though the assortment of team members have got names which can’t be recalled without seeing them written down, they’re all distinctly individual and at least easy to identify visually.
There’s a neat touch with the art that depicts the masked, otherwise anonymous pilots with their helmets transparently cut away, appearing as outlines in the comic panels. A clever stylistic choice, this allows readers to see the facial expressions, emotions and reactions of each pilot – as well as, more simply, just letting you know who they are.
I was pleasantly surprised by this first issue of TIE Fighter.
Even if the featured pilots all fly TIE Interceptors.
Fun fact: I once beat a so-called Star Wars expert at school in a Star Wars trivia quiz, by knowing that TIE stood for Twin Ion Engine. He accused me of making the answer up. Yes, I’ve always been a geek.
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