Darth Vader chasing the Millennium Falcon in a TIE fighter? Heck yes!

There’s a really cool, long-running Star Wars comic book set between the end of A New Hope and the beginning of Empire Strikes Back. It follows the events within the rebel alliance, which now has come to prominence in the galaxy. We saw in Rogue One that the alliance was only somewhat stable prior to the attack on the Death Star, having a handful of leaders pulling in separate directions. But with the galaxy now in fear of the Empire’s seemingly limitless power, more and more regimes are willing to join up with the rebels.

And that’s where we are in this comic. It’s currently 52 issues deep, telling stories such as Han Solo and Chewbacca smuggling an important Hutt on the Millennium Falcon, Luke and Leia trapped alone on a desert island, and an effort to thwart the Empire as they mine the remains of Jedha. The recent subject matter, however, has set up some intriguing plot points for the future movies while giving an homage to the past.

Here’s the scenario. Leia has worked with an ally, Queen Trios of Shu-Toran, to help rescue the king of Mon Cala from the Empire and return him to his people. But when the king is murdered, the remaining leaders of Mon Cala are pushed to join up with the rebellion, bringing with them an expansive list of warships. It’s here where we find the rebels in the recent issues, showing off their newfound arsenal in front of several dignitaries and allies.

The Rebel Alliance fleet | Lucasfilm
The Rebel Alliance fleet | Lucasfilm

But there is a major problem. The systems that run the ships – provided by Trios – are malfunctioning. As it turns out, the queen was never truly an ally of Leia’s, but instead a loyal follower of Darth Vader.

A brief flashback shows that months prior, the Empire was struggling to track down the rebels. In such small factions, they were nearly impossible to crush. But Vader had a plan. If the Empire were to secretly allow and help the Rebel Alliance to grow stronger, they’d be easier to tear apart from inside. It was then that Vader confronted Trios, with whom he had a previous relationship (of sorts).

With the queen agreeing to help, it was only a matter of time. As the rebels floated through space, unable to open their hangar doors or jump to hyperspace, Vader and several Star Destroyers appeared to begin systematically tearing apart the rebel ships.

Fortunately, there was one rebel ship that was late to the party: The Millennium Falcon. Han and Chewie ended up being chased by Vader in his modified TIE fighter, desperately attempting to dodge him to get an important message to the rebels.

Han Solo dodges Darth Vader | Marvel Comics
Han Solo dodges Darth Vader | Marvel Comics

Thanks to a relayed message from Leia, Han knew that the hangar doors have a fail-safe and would open if a ship flew directly at them. But losing Vader was proving too difficult. Han even flew into the exploding wreckage of a destroyed rebel ship just to get some separation, but getting to the hangar doors without getting blown to bits by Vader just wasn’t possible.

Eventually, Han comes up with a brilliant scheme to have C-3PO loaded into an escape pod and shot toward a ship to get the message to the crew. Luke Skywalker and his X-wing squadron were able to get the hangar doors open and defend the armada, which included Leia, General Dodonna, and Mon Mothma – pretty much every single important rebel officer.

The last thing we learn in this story arc is that Luke’s brand new X-wing battalion didn’t yet have a call sign. As the group headed toward the Star Destroyers and incoming TIE fighters, the young Jedi thought aloud about how their mission was not so different than one Jyn Erso had once undertaken. Thus, Rogue Squadron was born.

Luke Skywalker leads Rogue Squadron into battle | Marvel Comics
Luke Skywalker leads Rogue Squadron into battle | Marvel Comics

The story isn’t over yet, although we do know that the Rebel Alliance continues on and all of our heroes live to tell the story. It’ll be interesting to find out how the Empire and Vader are defeated in this exchange, which already is one of the more intense battles of the Imperial era.

But learning that the origin of Rogue Squadron was directly related to Erso and the crew of Rogue One is pretty neat, in addition to the story of treachery behind the rebels building their massive starfleet.

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