Just before the Death Star was destroyed by Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: A New Hope, Grand Moff Tarkin could have evacuated and saved himself with a super-sleek starship, which has now been revealed to have been canonically equipped with a badass cloaking device. And since this cloaking device is canon, the galaxy far, far away could be filled with invisible ships that we’ve — obviously — never seen.
Released on January 11, the tenth issue in Marvel’s ongoing Poe Dameron comic series provided an unexpected flashback that explained the origins of the slick spaceship flown by a renegade member of the First Order named Terex. Called the Carrion Spike, Terex’s ship has now been revealed to have originally belonged to Grand Moff Tarkin just prior to the events of A New Hope. So, in A New Hope, when Tarkin’s lackey Chief Bast asked Tarkin, “Should I have your ship standing by?” the Carrion Spike is the ship he meant. And had Tarkin taken his flunky’s advice, he could have been cruising away from death, completely invisible to the scanners of the Rebellion. “It’s got a cloaking device, if you can believe that,” the new comic establishes.
Tarkin doesn’t appear in these flashbacks, but the comic explains how the newer character Terex turned into a private warlord after he obtained the stealth ship. This seems like a small piece of Star Wars continuity, but it’s maybe a game-changing one.
Cloaking devices have never been actually been depicted being used in a Star Wars movie, though invisible things are notoriously hard to spot. Still “cloaking devices” do in fact exist in the canon of the original films: in The Empire Strikes Back, Captain Needa says, “no ship that small has a cloaking device,” after the Millennium Falcon seems to vanish. Since Needa was a lower-ranking Imperial officer, it seems like he was unaware that cloaking devices on smaller ships did, in fact, exist. Early promotional material for Poe Dameron’s X-wing, “Black One,” established it was a stealth ship too, though it’s not clear if that’s the same as a cloaking device.
Non-canon Star Wars material has dealt with cloaking devices too. Part of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy depicted the Imperial remnants using cloaking devices on asteroids and ships. Meanwhile, the video game Rebel Assault 2: The Hidden Empire posited the existence of a “Phantom TIE,” a kind of TIE Fighter, which — you guessed it — was invisible.
But, unlike the old Thrawn novels or the Rebel Assault games, the Marvel Star Wars comics are totally canon, meaning it is likely a series like Poe Dameron and others will continue to dole out dot-connecting tidbits like these for a long time coming. And now that its been made clear that at least one secret cloaking device existed, could there have been others? Since the very nature of having a cloaking device means the ship is invisible, it seems plausible that there now exists a huge plot loophole in the Star Wars universe, one in which a spaceship could be hiding almost anywhere, even in plain sight.
Poe Dameron #10 is out now.