The Empire’s huge armada is heading to the Imperial Capitol to deliver a Teezl. What is a Teezl? It’s a giant bluish, noncorporeal, lifeform made entirely of swirls and luminescence. The Empire found one recently and intend to use it to gain a strategic advantage against the Rebellion. How did they find it? They just found one. No further explanation is given or necessary.
Apparently this Teezl can amplify signals and take in electronic data input and react as a receptor which can then broadcast information to extreme distances anywhere in the galaxy. What makes this special is that is transmits faster than any artificial communications system the Empire has available.
Knowing the threat such an advantage would pose for the Rebellion Luke, his girlfriend Shira, and two other Rebel pilots take the four stolen TIE Fighters and infiltrate the armada in an attempt to sabotage the delivery of the Teezl to Coruscant. At least I assume it is Coruscant since the name of the Imperial Capitol is not named until Heir to the Empire.
Luke and his friends target several Star Destroyers and the attack leaves the Imperial armada in chaos and confusion. One of the attacked Destroyers begins shooting wildly at all TIE Fighters coming near it causing widespread destruction of the Imperial fleet. Admiral Giel, who is in charge of the armada, orders the Teezl to jam all signals except for the Imperial war band which causes Luke and the three other stolen TIE’s to no longer be capable of communicating with and recognising each other. Two of the rebel TIE Fighters are destroyed in the assault and Luke and Shira are the only ones left in the battle and are unable to contact each other.
Luke approaches the Destroyer containing the Teezl but is blocked by a TIE Fighter in his path. Unable to signal it Luke draws upon the Force to instinctively determine whether or not the Fighter pilot is friend or foe. The Force tells Luke that the pilot is an enemy and he fires upon it. After averting that obstacle Luke launches a special weapon called an ultra-power blast (sounds like the name of a power up in a Nintendo game to me) and destroys the Star Destroyer and the Teezl inside. Luke then jumps to hyperspace and returns to the Rebel base on Arbra.
There Luke learns a terrible truth from Princess Leia. The TIE Fighter pilot whom he shot down in the battle was none other than Shira Brie herself!
Confused, angry, and forced to resign his commission: Luke finds himself disillusioned with the precognitive powers of the Force. He also finds himself ostracised and unpopular among his fellow Rebels at the base who see him as an unwelcome pariah since Shira was well-liked among many of the Alliance.
Luke decides to leave Arbra to seek some answers and borrows the Millennium Falcon from Lando. Chewie goes with him and the pair head to planet Shalyvane where Shira had once told him of her past and what led her to join the Rebellion.
While exploring the ruins of Chinshassa Luke and Chewbacca are captured by more of the barbaric natives that they had encountered last time they were there, but they escape and hide in cave. There they find an old hermit who is the same species as the Shalyvanian aliens who attacked them. However, he is unarmed and harmless and Luke decides to ask him about the humans who used to live in Chinshassa before the Empire bombed it.
The alien, whose name is G’Hinji, tells him that the city was never previously occupied by humans at all, but rather the Shalyvanians prior to the bombing. This immensely bothers Luke for if it is true then Shira Brie had lied to him about her origins.
G’Hinji takes Luke to the Circle of Kavaan where days before Shira conducted a ritual in which she poured some of her blood on the altar. Luke does the same after borrowing Chewie’s knife and the result is shocking. A holographic recording of Darth Vader appears and it addresses Luke Skywalker directly. Vader tells him that Shira was an undercover agent who was trained and planted by the Empire to destroy Luke’s credibility within the Alliance.
Luke, before he can accept this as fact, determines to investigate further by sneaking into the Imperial data vault on Krake’s Planet. Krake’s Planet holds a spider-shaped cocoon formed by indigenous slugs which the Empire had annexed as an installation for a high-security data vault.
After sneaking inside Luke and Chewie capture and coerce an Imperial officer to access the data tapes they are looking for on Shira Brie. On the tapes they learn that Shira was born on Coruscant and raised in the Imperial Palace as part of a special project designed to indoctrinate and brainwash youth among the Imperial citizenry. Shira was an exceptional student and she was handpicked by Darth Vader himself to be infiltrated within the Rebel Alliance. The bombings of Chinshassa was deliberately instigated by the Empire to add credibility to the fabricated backstory she would later deliver to Luke when they visited there.
After a brief skirmish Luke and Chewie escape Krake’s Planet with the tapes and return them to Arbra as evidence to exonerate him. It becomes apparent to Luke that the Force had not led him astray after all, but in fact recognised Shira for what she was. And that was why the Force caused him to sense her as an enemy.
Elsewhere, Darth Vader is checking on a patient being kept alive in a bacta tank aboard his Star Destroyer. Her name is Shira Brie and Darth Vader is not done using her yet.
These three issues are one of the many examples that I can cite that disprove the notion that all of the classic Marvel Star Wars comics were just cheesy camp. This is a well-written, complex, intriguing, and intelligent plot that is just as good as any of the stories that were written for the Expanded Universe in the 90’s.
And as the reader can tell from the ending this is not the last we have seen of Shira Brie; and, in fact, her character will have an even further impact within the EU well past the classic Marvel era.
One issue that I used to struggle with, though, is this story arc’s concept of the Force. I couldn’t call it a complaint per se, but I was uneasy with fully accepting its interpretation of how the Force worked. It bugged me that the Force would purposefully operate with a will of its own to the point that it would recognise an enemy independently of the user. I always thought the Force was used when a Jedi or Sith drew upon the energy that binded and connected them to the Force and typically it was their own emotions and feelings that they drew upon and stretched out with. For the Force to recognise Shira as an enemy independent of Luke’s own awareness seemed to grant the Force too much personality which is something the Force shouldn’t have.
However, as I was writing down that criticism I realised that perhaps it wasn’t so much the Force independently recognising an enemy as it was instead just allowing Luke to tune in on the feelings of the pilot in the other Fighter. We have seen the Force allow users to sense the feelings of others before and it is not unlikely that when Luke used the Force he subconsciously picked up Shira’s animosity and determined she was an enemy by that. That makes more sense to me and that leaves any criticism that I intended to lay at this story’s feet happily withdrawn. It was an excellent story and it shows that we are in the midst of the best period of Star Wars comics that Marvel had to offer.
You can find these three issues in Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Volume 2 which you can purchase here.
Stay tuned in the next few days for a special announcement on what Star Wars EU Reviews has in store next week in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Star Wars. May the Force be with you.