It's official, Star Wars fans, the age of 'thirst trap Tarkin. has arrived. But more importantly, the Star Wars comics have revealed just how dark, brutal, and vicious Grand Moff Tarkin really was--even if Darth Vader hogged the spotlight in the movies.
The villain has been one of the most underrated Imperial figures in the Star Wars saga among casual audiences, and one of the most respected among die-hard fans. It's for that reason that Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin has moved up the supporting character shortlist, earning his own origin novel and now, his own origin comic book. Since his previous appearance in Star Wars comics revealed that Tarkin was the only man to beat Darth Vader, and thereby earned his respect, the bar is set fairly high. But we weren't prepared for this.
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Tarkin's latest incredible display of supreme badass-ery takes place in Star Wars: Age of Rebellion - Grand Moff Tarkin #1, one of several one-shot comics intended to tell previously untold stories in the lives of some of the most iconic characters from the galaxy far, far away. Previous issues have shown that Count Dooku wasn't pure evil, and that the infamous General Grievous had a face worth hiding. But with Grand Moff Tarkin, it's his image as a calm, unwavering, unemotional, and aging Imperial Officer that's being examined. And by "examined," we mean completely subverted, beginning with Tarkin's reaction to one Death Star gunner he deems far too soft for the work of destroying entire planets.
Since this above moment is one Star Wars fans are going to have indeliby etched into their memory (and their mental image of Tarkin), we should clarify that his victim is 'Chief Gunner Endo Frant.' When a test firing of the Death Star's superweapon fails due to the unwillingness of its crew to obliterate and entire planet, Tarkin demands to inspect every sailor along the chain. It's easy to deduce that someone was going to bear the brunt of his disapproval, and it happened to be Frant. A clean-cut soldier with only "a scar on his knee from a grav-ball tournament in university," he is exactly the type of Imperial recruit in need of a more extreme bit of training.
The story begins with a glimpse into Tarkin's own passage from boyhood into manhood, sealed in an attack by two tiger-like alien beasts. As the creatures tore at his flesh as Tarkin's kin looked on, the "snap" of one tiger's claw is the only clue as to how Tarkin suvrived. But the last thing fans expected to see is Tarkin stripping, showing off the scars that forged him into an ice cold officer. Well, the last last thing was that he would challenge Endo Frant to a knife fight. In the process, demonstrating what a peak physical specimen actor Peter Cushing was beneath his Imperial uniform (we can only assume).
Now the issue does deflates some of the excitement by revealing that this is all an illustration of what Grand Moff Tarkin WANTS to do to demonstrate his superiority over the officers in his charge. Instead, he keeps his demeanor as cold and calculated as fans know from the films. But as far as we're concerned, knowing that every time Tarkin quietly considered his inferior officers he was keeping himself from stripping to the waist and challenging them to a knife fight makes him more terrifying than if he actually did it.
Fans can address their letters of thanks to writer Greg Pak, and artist Marc Laming for crafting this unbelievable chapter of Tarkin's life. And even if the scene is set only in the Grand Moff's imagination, savoring the kind of brutal dominance he wishes he could enact upon those around hi, his desire to do so is completely canon. And his physical ability to do it... well we're just going to believe that, too.
Star Wars: Age of Rebellion - Grand Moff Tarkin #1 is available now at your local comic book store, or direct from Marvel Comics.