Star Wars #8 from Marvel Comics continues The Will of Tarkin arc introduced in the previous issue. Written by Charles Soule, Star Wars #8 brings the building tension between Commander Zahra and the unsuspecting General Leia Organa to its head. Soule is joined by artist Jan Bazaluda, colorist Rachelle Rosenberg, and letterer Clayton Cowles, as this team takes readers through the latest installment in the canon Star Wars series.
Previously in Star Wars #7, readers were given more backstory on Commander Ellian Zahra. Readers learn of Zahra’s cunning, ruthlessness, and her deep connection to Grand Moff Tarkin. Star Wars #8 opens with more backstory as Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine who should be tasked to find the Rebel fleet. The former prodigy of Tarkin was groomed to be the next big player in the Empire. However, after a failure of a personal mission given by Tarkin, she was reduced to non-essential duties and cast aside. When Darth Vader presents an opportunity to hunt down the remnants of the Rebel fleet, Zahra jumps into action eager to redeem herself.
Given the death of her parents and her mentor Tarkin at the hands of the Rebel Alliance, Zahra has a deep hatred for the group with a particular animosity toward General Leia Organa. Zahra is now letting the hate flow through her as she heads toward a collision course with Leia and two Rebel divisions.
In the heat of battle between an Imperial fleet and two opposing Rebel fleets led by Leia and Luke Skywalker, Zahra attempts to board the starship carrying the former princess of Alderaan. Zahra dawns stunning samurai-esque black armor while wielding a blaster and a sword as she easily boards the Rebel craft. She makes her way directly to the engine room, cutting down or blasting every Rebel in her way. Once in the engine room, Zahra threatens to overload the main reactor.
She is willing to reinstate the safety controls in Leia comes to meet her alone. Leia, of course, is never one to back down from a fight, especially when it is her life or the entire crew’s. Leia goes down the engine room with nothing but a blaster and hope. The rest of Star Wars #8 follows the much-anticipated confrontation between Zahra and Leia.
I am very impressed with the art team, specifically once Zahra boards the ship. The panels where she is dispatching Rebel soldiers with ease is reminiscent of Darth Vader himself. Her armour design alone is one I can see any members of the 501st recreating in the future. In addition, I am in awe of writer Soule’s ability to truly make Zahra a force to be reckoned with. Most high ranking officials of the Empire are usually just bodies for Darth Vader to choke. However, through just a few issues Commander Zahra continues to rise in the ranks of the most dangerous and compelling Imperial officers, right up there with Krennic, Tarkin, Thrawn, and Rae Sloane. Zahra just doesn’t want to kill Leia, she wants her to suffer and Star Wars #8 clearly shows she has the ability to do so despite the general’s allies.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Star Wars #8. The intimate focus on Zahra and Leia rather than the two facing off in a large starship battle really drives home the character beats that Soule has been building up to since we first saw Zahra. Star Wars #9 is set to take readers on a new arc but I do hope that we see more of Commander Ellian Zahra very soon.
Star Wars #8 is available now wherever comics are sold.