Contributor: Rick McGimpsey
A few story arcs back – if the reader remembers – Luke Skywalker was sent by the Rebel Alliance to seek out a new planet as a location for the Rebel base. With his failure to do so during the Drexel mission and the other events that kept him and his friends preoccupied the Rebel leaders were forced to remain for a longer period of time on Yavin 4 than was safe. And this becomes quickly apparent when Imperial TIE fighters begin to continually assault the Massassi Ruins where the base is located. While the Alliance, with aid from their best X-Wing pilots, are able to repel these continued attacks the raids have left much of the Rebel supplies depleted. This leaves conducting the simplest of repairs slow when not impossible.
Meanwhile, as these events transpire Luke, Princess Leia, and the two droids Artoo and Threepio are on Centares, a mid-rim world, to purchase a used starcraft from a dealer named Jorman Thoad. Luke is still searching for a potential new base in the Outer Rim and the minimally armed yacht they took from Senator Greyshade was obviously not safe enough to explore those territories. After the transaction is complete Jorman tells Luke and Leia that a mining explorer owned by the House of Tagge is headed toward the Gordian Reach (where Yavin is located) to end a spice strike happening on one of the worlds there. The dealer also tells them that that sector of space has been blockaded by the Empire until the spice operation is back on schedule.
Aboard their new ship Leia informs Luke that the Gordian Reach in fact has no spice operations which means the rumour about the strike is just a front for the actual reason the Empire is blockading the sector. She reasons that the Empire is trying to prevent word from spreading of the destruction of the Death Star by the Alliance and to wipe out the Rebel base in retaliation.
To get past the blockade Luke jumps into the same hyperspace tunnel as the Tagge mining explorer and rides the heels of its engines. Baron Tagge who commands the mining explorer hopes that if he succeeds in destroying the Rebel Base he will gain favour with the Emperor and replace him as his second-in-command instead of Darth Vader. Tagge hates Vader for an injury that the Dark Lord gave him with his lightsaber that left him blind aside from the use of a special pair of cybervision goggles. Much of his time is spent mastering lightsaber techniques to prepare for his next encounter with Vader.
While practising with his lightsaber one of the ship’s helmsmen detects Luke and Leia’s vessel following them in hyperspace. In an attempt to destroy them Tagge orders magnetic mines to be launched in their direction. After dropping out of hyperspace Luke uses the Force to focus and successfully destroys all of the mines before they damage the their ship. Fortunately they have already reached the Yavin System by this time where to Luke’s horror he discovers that the Empire has a base hidden beneath the gases of Yavin which is where all of the recent TIE Fighter attacks have been coming from. The station beneath the gas giant’s troposphere has a device that can artificially create cyclonic tunnels within the planet’s gases which the TIE’s can fly through without being damaged.
Before they can warn the Alliance, however, two scout ships attack them which severely damages their engines. Thankfully a reconnaissance patrol of X-Wing fighters saves them and destroys the scouts.
Back at the base the Rebel leaders theorise that the TIE fighters are using installed signalling devices that notify the hidden space station to create the cyclonic funnel. After discovering that one of the Imperial scout ships crashed on Yavin 4 undisintegrated Luke takes Artoo and an X-Wing to find it and retrieve the signalling device. Although they successfully retrieve it the Imperial pilot who survived the crash fires at them and severely damages Artoo. Luke is told back at the Massassi Ruins that Artoo could not be repaired because the necessary parts needed are unavailable due to the supply shortage. Embittered Luke volunteers to fly a commandeered TIE Fighter with the signalling device installed to reach the space station and shut down its funnel-creating mechanism. Such a mission has a low chance for survival and Luke knows this.
Luke uses the device and is permitted into the base by the station which mistakes him for one of the missing scout craft. There Luke finds the Imperial station to be a massive turbine that stirs up the planet’s gases creating artificial storms. With the stolen TIE Fighter he destroys the station and once again uses the Force to focus and guide his way out of Yavin’s gassy troposphere.
Meanwhile Baron Tagge escapes in his mining explorer and vows to do worse to Luke than whatever revenge he has in store for Darth Vader.
This is one of those stories that is neither real good, but not especially terrible either. The real purpose served by these two issues is to setup the Baron Tagge storyline which continues on later in the Classic Marvel run. The story itself is kinda weak and I feel compelled to ask why the Rebel Alliance had no contingency plan for fleeing Yavin 4 if their location was discovered. And with or without the Death Star the Imperial fleet is still a massive power not to be taken lightly and it really does not need to create a new station any time soon to deal with the Rebel Base on Yavin 4. It amazes me that the Empire has acted in such a lightweight fashion by allowing the Yavin 4 base to continue existing for even this short a period.
But I think these plot holes are of minimal concern as I had pointed out that the main purpose of this story was to set up a later, better one. This sadly leaves this story unskippable to fully enjoy the story of Baron Tagge and his personal vendetta against Darth Vader. While not being one of my favourites I can say that I have seen worse and do not feel too inclined to complain.
Check in next time for my review of #27: Return of the Hunter of the Classic Marvel run and may the Force be with you.