Published: May 4, 2022
Rating: Rated T
Writer: Charles Soule
Penciler: Ramon Rosanas
Colourist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, Rachelle Rosenberg
THE DAWN ALLIANCE – PART 2 OF 3 “The Last Division” The fate of THE REBEL ALLIANCE FLEET is at stake, as its last remaining divisions face off in battle against the brutal tactics of COMMANDER ELLIAN ZAHRA and her crew on the TARKIN’S WILL. For Zahra, this fight is personal; her revenge will not be complete until every life lost on THE DEATH STAR is avenged. Epic space warfare in the true STAR WARS manner!
The first part of this arc raised a lot of questions, a constant worry about the motives of all the characters involved. I’m sure it was setting the foundations for some exciting story telling in the next two issues that form this arc. With nods back to the movies through the writing (Charles Soule) and artwork (Ramon Rosanas), this is a series that really is a feast for the eyes and mind of those of us who grew up with the original movies. So let’s see where this issue takes us.
Setting up the foundations and then some! This issue is a huge space fight on a scale worthy of Star Wars. All of it is possible because of Commander Zahra. All along Soule has shown just how strong a character she is: someone who has trained under Tarkin, who holds a very personal grudge against the Rebellion and has tactical know how almost on par with Thrawn. It’s a wonderful recipe for a villain. It is this issue where she really shines. What really struck me with her is how she thinks on more than one level. Yes, she has a battle (an almost impossible one) that she has to win but she also wants propaganda that can be used to create a much deeper cut into the Rebels. She understands that the war is being fought on multiple fronts and each is just as important as the other. In a lot of ways, she is very like a Rebel. She has suffered a loss that is personal to her and wants to strike out, to get justice for that wrong. It’s obviously twisted but Soule does a great job of showing just how she thinks. Much like the Emperor, she is very confident in her abilities and although she is able to predict most things correctly, there are those unexpected twists that are able to thwart her. It’s the perfect personification of the Empire, tunnel vision to a goal without being the wider picture. Even with this flaw, what Soule shows again and again is what a brilliant mind she has. It’s very easy to show the Empire as not been the best that there is (one just has to look at the accuracy of a stormtrooper) but in reality, the Empire wouldn’t have been able to keep so much control without having leaders who are able to think strategically. The likes of Zahra, of Thrawn, of Tarkin are very important in the galaxy to show that the Empire does have these strong leaders that can create such a thorn in the side of the Rebels.
The Rebels barely get a look in this issue, and to be honest, I’m glad they don’t, I love that Zahra gets to really shine here. We see Shara and Kes reunited. Soule does this perfectly, it’s not dragged out, it’s not frustrating watching the Rebels trying to find where she is because they go straight to her. It is a simple reunion which doesn’t undermine the pacing set at the start of the issue. Soule uses the Rebels to show what does make them different to Zahra. Zahra sacrifices others in order to achieve her aims, the Rebels sacrifice themselves to achieve their’s. Although we don’t see much of the repercussions for Kes, you can’t help but wonder how Leia will handle the situation. Kes has done what Leia wants to do with Han but can’t. But it cost the Rebels, cost them men and women… but ultimately it led to saving the day. What can she say?
Rosanas once again creates a wonderful visual backdrop for the whole story. The ships look incredible, the movement through space, the tension viewing them descending to the planet, all exceptional. The final panels of the Tarkin’s Will are so reminiscent of Return of the Jedi and it’s a perfect example of the nods that both Soule and Rosanas do during these issues back to the Original Trilogy. My favourite panels though, were those of the primary reactor, the layout to show the scale and fit it into a single page just worked so beautifully.
This is the perfect middle section of an arc. The action, the tension, the loss, it all creates a wonderful story that engages and hooks the reader. Both writing and artwork here are exceptional and the work of building up Zahra over multiple issues really pays off her. She steals the show in this issue. After seeing her battle prowess and her ability to think of the war on multiple levels, I’m really hoping that next issue doesn’t signal the end for her. Soule has created a fantastic new villain for us who I really don’t want gone too soon. But who knows, next issue will (hopefully) reveal all.
Star Wars (2020) is an ongoing series available from Marvel. This issue retails at $3.99 and is available via the Marvel App, ComiXology and all good comic bookstores.