Written by Charles Soule
Illustrated by Ramon Rosanas
Published by Marvel Comics
The will of Grand Moff Tarkin lives on as his ruthless protégé Commander Ellian Zahra is within an eyelash of eliminating the Rebel Alliance once and for all.
However, who is Commander Zahra?
While she’s appeared in previous issues of the series, all that’s known about the character is her desire to end Princess Leia.
Charles Soule takes a deep dive into Zahra’s past as an up and coming Imperial officer. She gained the favor of Tarkin and was privy to high-level meetings and information. Soule created an excellent synergy in the way Zahra gained and eventually lost favor with the Grand Moff.
Interestingly, she failed to do the one thing that made Tarkin take notice of her in the first place.
As the events unfolded, it was evident Zahra made a critical error, but it never occurred to her until it was too late. With her status revoked as Tarkin’s prized pupil, Zahra was resolute in proving herself worthy once more.
She is so determined; in fact, she stole a shuttle from the Death Star during the Battle of Yavin.
She got far enough away to witness and survive the explosion.
Soule brilliantly used a pivotal moment in the lore to underscore Zahra’s resolve. Zahra is so consumed with getting back into Tarkin’s good grace the fact that the Death Star was under attack didn’t even phase her despite everyone else around her reporting to battle stations. However, there is another way to look at this moment.
The shuttle Zahra stole was reserved to evacuate high-level Imperial officers, such as Tarkin.
As we saw in A New Hope, Tarkin practically scoffed at the idea of evacuation because he underestimated the Rebels’ chances. Perhaps, Zahra wasn’t fazed by the Death Star attack because she knew Tarkin wasn’t.
Ramon Rosanas took over the artwork from Jesus Saiz for this issue and the next. He did a good job of honing in on Soule’s more personal narrative. While there are other plot points in play, Zahra is the focal point of the story. Moments where Zahra made Tarkin proud as he showed her off to anyone watching, is where the illustrations shine. There is one moment where Tarkin casually tells Zahra to bring him the head of an enemy combatant. It was as if he was ordering a cup of coffee, and Zahra took it as such, which highlights their relationship.
Soule and Rosanas round out the book with some brief but fun action scenes along with another High Republic Easter egg, which lends more credence to Lucasfilm’s new publishing initiative. Zahra blames Leia for Tarkin’s death and is eager to avenge him. She is a cunning and brilliant tactician. However, we start to see where blind vengeance could be her downfall.
The objective here is to get readers invested in Commander Zahra, and it’s safe to say, mission accomplished!