WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: TIE Fighter #1 from Jody Houser, Rogê Antônio, Michael Dowling, Arif Prianto, Lee Loughridge and VC's Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
Following an emphatic defeat at the hands of Emperor Palpatine's forces in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker and his allies rebounded, eventually saving the galaxy in Return of the Jedi. In the process, they redeemed Darth Vader's soul and moved one step closer to returning to the vision of the Galactic Republic years before.
But in several key scenes during the film, it becomes obvious Princess Leia and Co. are receiving key information to help them carve out this path to victory -- but it was never revealed where this info came from. Now, courtesy of Star Wars: TIE Fighter, this plot hole, which allowed the Rebel Alliance to take down the second Death Star, has finally been filled in.
ROTJ hinged on the Battle of Endor which came about after the rebels discovered the Empire was using the Forest Moon of Endor as a staging ground in constructing another Death Star. But we never really found out how Leia's network got wind of this, apart from whispers of a spy network. Bothan spies were employed by the Alliance to garner this intelligence, but we never heard or saw from them. The network was simply a deus ex machina, and in fact, such covert operations only came to the big screen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
We merely accepted the concept of spies working inside the belly of the beast as plot convenience. Well, TIE Fighter changes all of this, introducing us to a group of pilots within the Empire who don't buy into Palpatine's vision. As the Shadow Wing in the Imperial Army's 204th squadron go about hunting down rebels in space, they're given an order to accompany a maintenance crew to the Celerity, a marooned Star Destroyer the Empire doesn't want the rebels to get their hands on. As they journey to their destination, we see one cadet, Ganem Kahi, wishing the old Republic came back, and his girlfriend Zin Graw trying to silence him for fear of a superior overhearing them.
It's clear at this point the duo don't have a fixed allegiance, with another of their teammates Jeela Brebtin also seemingly toeing the line. At the end of the issue, we gain a bit more clarity as to who's really compromised via a key exchange between Zin and another pilot, Yrica Quell. They seem to be disappointed they're carrying out the Empire's missions, and after their conversation about the morality of war, Zin goes to her quarters and sneaks out a communication device, contacting a mysterious source. The page shows the Rebel symbol, with the caption of "A Beginning..." indicating Zin is one of these rebel spies.
Furthermore, in an excerpt from Alexander Freed's Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron novel at the end of the comic, we get a story of Quell being taken prisoner following a crash-landing. In the ensuing interrogation by a rebel droid, she's found to be regretful of all the bombings she's carried out and the robot comes to the conclusion she is a defector. It seems to be set before TIE Fighter and hints Quell was allowed to return to base as an infiltrator, thus her conversation with Zin.
This seems to be playing out like The Departed, with agents seeded out and not knowing of each other's existence so as to protect one another's identity. Ultimately, this creates a fun cat-and-mouse game with the Alliance's secret network destabilizing the Empire from the inside, hoping to bring the glory days of the Republic back.
Star Wars: TIE Fighter #2 goes on sale May 15.