The Phantom Affair


Rogue Squadron is sent to Mrlsst, a planet with a famous academy which has invented many technical achievements. The newest is a phantom ship, a fighter with cloaking device. An auction is held to sell this invention, and the Rebel Alliance sends Wedge Antilles as their representative.

On Mrlsst he meets Mirax Terrik, a childhood friends who is now an independent pilot and business woman and also interested in the phantom ship. Before the negotiations start, the Rogues and Mirax enjoy the planet's nightlife.

They meet the AEA, the Ante-Endor Association, which claims that is was the Rebels who destroyed Alderaan and that the Emperor is still alive. While the others ignore the AEA people, Tycho begins an argument with them, but unsuccessfully. They laugh at him when he tells him that he fought in the Battle of Endor. But later they ambush him and beat him up, until a "Ghost Jedi" appears and helps Tycho. The mysterious ghost vanishes again as fast as he has turned up.

At first the other Rogues don't believe Tycho as he tells them what has happened, but then a waitress overhears their conversation and tells them that there actually is supposed to be a "Ghost Jedi" on the academy campus. The waitress is a Twi'lek named Koyi Komad, a student of the academy, and on the next day she shows the campus to the Rogues.

After that, at the negotiations, Wedge meets the representative of the Empire, an officer named Loka Hask, who was responsible for the deaths of Wedge's parents years ago.

The then sixteen-year-old Wedge and Booster Terrik, a friend of the Antilles family, were on their way back to the space station Gus Treta, where Wedge's parents owned a fueling station. Shortly before they reached Gus Treta, they witnessed a pirates' ship (trying to escape from CorSec) taking off without unhooking and thereby igniting the fuel and setting the fueling station on fire. Jagged and Zena Antilles managed to uncouple the fueling station from the main structure, which saved Gus Treta, but Wedge's parents were killed by the explosion. Wedge and Booster had to watch helplessly. Later Booster found the pirates responsible, and with a Headhunter borrowed from Booster Wedge destroyed their ship, even though Booster tried to persuade him to hand them over to CorSec. Unknown to Wedge, Loka Hask, the captain, escaped alive, but crippled.

Despite the hostilities the negotiations start, but are soon interrupted because the plans of the phantom ships have been stolen. The surveillance holos show Tycho to be one of the thieves, whereupon Wedge is imprisoned. The rest of the Rogues are warned by Koyi and are able to flee, together with her and Mirax. They discover that the surveillance holos are forged, and that in fact the AEA is responsible for the theft.

In the meantime Hask tortures the imprisoned Wedge, but soon he is distracted, when he learns that his AEA allies have lost the plans again. After he has set off to find the thieves and retrieve the plans, the "Ghost Jedi" helps Wedge to escape.

The Rogues separate, a part tries to find the plans, aided by Mirax, while the others try to free Wedge, which turns out to be unnecessary, though.

Mirax and Dllr find the thieves in the laboratory of Rorax Falken, the former president of the academy, which is hidden in an asteroid belt. There they learn -- as the other Rogues by Wedge -- that the whole trouble is in vain, because the phantom ship doesn't exist. The academy pretended to work on it, to get money from the Empire, and the Rebel Alliance supported the faking, hoping that they would be able to track a rare substance (needed to 'build' the ship) to the Empire's hidden main research facility. Now, after Endor, when the Empire badly needs new weapons, the new president of the Mrlsst academy tries to sell the phantom ship, not knowing that it doesn't exist.

Falken simulates the destruction of his laboratory and keeps Mirax and Dllr captive. Hask, furious to lose the plans, orders the bombardment of Mrlsst. But then he, as the Rogues, notices that Falken's laboratory still exists. He forces his way into it, but is stalled by Groznik and the "Ghost Jedi" (which is controlled by Falken), which gives Mirax, Dllr, and Falken's co-workers enough time to escape. They activate one of Falken's weapons, which destroys the laboratory with Hask, Falken, and Groznik on board, and also the Imperial Star Destroyer.

My review:

The second comic of the XW series is much better than the first one, "The Rebel Opposition". Many people (including me) think that its art is the best of the whole series, thanks to Edvin Biukovic. Only the female pilots of RS look a bit nicer in some of the other comics (imho).

The story itself is only mediocre, and gets a bit confusing toward the end. But the subplots are great, the story about the death of Wedge's parents alone is worth reading the comic. Also very good is Tycho's confrontation with the AEA, the (short) discussion about the responsibility of scientists for their work, and the many small funny events, e.g. with the student security people.

TPA certainly is a good starting point for the XW comics. Important for other books/comics are especially Wedge's background story, and the introduction of Booster and Mirax Terrik. And in TPA it becomes clear for the first time how different the comic Tycho is from the older Tycho in the books, which was done intentionally by Mike Stackpole to show how much his time in Lusankya has changed him.