Jar Jar Binks the Unsung Rejected Hero

jar-jar-arrested

Jar Jar has a story arc that is so accurate a statement on humanity that people rejected it, backlashing against artist, actor and character but he can teach us a lot about how even the most worthless looking person may just need to be chosen and accepted to make a difference.

His journey begins as an outcast whose clumsiness is so annoyingly costly that his own people don’t want him and arrest him just for fleeing invasion and leading people to look for aid. But even at the start we get a clue he is more than this.

Jar Jar Believes in His People even though THEY don’t believe in HIM.

“No No Mesa Stay, Mesa Yousa Humble Servant….Tis demanded by da gods it is.”

jar-jar-can-barely-watch

Jar Jar can barely watch for fear of a wreck in the podrace

Jar Jar believed in his people’s culture and wasn’t just making up an excuse to stick to the guy that seemed to know how to deal with this major invasion, or Boss Nass wouldn’t have directly asked “Do yousa have a life play with dissun” but ‘whats a life play?!’
Our outcast gungan honors it. And Qui-Gon must’ve seen some potential in him (however faint) to agree to get him out of punishment. (After all they DID ask him to take them there, at risk to himself.)

 

Chosen for Being an Outcast

Sure enough its Jar Jar, not some trained Naboo official security guard or ‘handmaiden’ that Qui-Gon chooses to take into Mos Espa. Jar Jar fits in not to the climate but the clientele at least in that many were outcasts and exiles. He continues to prove himself out of his element here (accidentally activating a pit droid and making a mess of Watto’s shop, triggering a dangerous dug pod racer, having no manners at the dinner table and getting his tongue stuck in energy binders.) But he also proves he is a caring guy – others are cheering for a wreck at that podrace but Jar Jar can barely bring himself to watch!

jar-jar-talking-to-queen

Jar Jar mentiones the Gungan army to the Queen

On Coruscant, out of his element with nothing to do, it is Jar Jar who alters the Queen’s hopeless thinking. He had no way of knowing the girl Padmé was the Queen. Jar Jar saw she was sad, worried, and said

‘Gungans not going down witout a fight. Wesa got a grand army. That’s why yousa no liken us mesa thinks’.

Until now, the Queen hadn’t thought of the Gungans. Yes they were there, as was Jar Jar. But so far as she knew, they hadn’t been threatened and weren’t her responsibility. But it suddenly made her realize they probably were not only in danger too, but also had a means to fight back the Naboo lacked. Together they might beat this invader even though alone neither could!

Jar Jar the Chosen

jar-jar-chosen

The Queen needs Jar Jar’s help

Jar Jar was like the kid no-one wanted for the sports team or class project. No one expected him to be chosen, it was just as big a shock, if not more, to him as everyone else. But only he could do this.

Remember last time he went to the city he was arrested. It took Qui-Gon to get him out of punishment. Now he risks going in alone and no one is there! Taking  the Naboo who were biased against Gungans to their sacred place!  If the Queen doesn’t win Boss Nass he will surely be blamed for leading them to their hideout! Amidala did pull it off..The unprepared and unqualified gungan outcast is now a general. He doesn’t panic and run (until the retreat is sounded).

At the end, Jar Jar grieves at Qui-Gon’s funeral, is welcomed into the city for the Peace parade and will move on to new things like becoming a Senator.

Jar Jar the Educated Senator

jar-jar-contemplating-obis-reportJar Jar was entrusted with the Naboo Senatorial situation when Padmé went into hiding.  Perhaps Palpatine wanted notthis because Jar Jar was not a fool or a secret Sith but because both had learned something from Naboo’s victory.

Consider what Jar Jar learned in his brief moment in Attack of the Clones, listening to Obi-Wan’s report from Geonosis:

  • The Trade Federation and it’s Separatist Allies have a new Droid army to attack the Republic and last time they had one it invaded Naboo.
  • Nute Gunray was still in charge AND behind the assassination of Amidala’s bodyguard and attempts on her.
  • An army already existed to oppose them (the clones) as did people to at least lead it tactically (the Jedi) if only it could be put in play.
  • It was already hostile in that it attacked Obi-Wan (his friend) for reporting on them.

When Padmé was in this situation years ago during the Naboo invasion  she had faced:

  • Trade Federation Army invasion
  • Nute Gunray in control.
  • A realization that an Army she could borrow existed (the gungans)
jar-jar-proposes-powers

Jar Jar proposes powers to save the galaxy.

So now was Jar Jar’s moment of choice: should he not do the same as she?  The stakes before were a planet, now they are the whole Republic!  Clearly the Trade Federation threatens Naboo once more! Binks had no reason to distrust Naboo’s own former Senator, Palpatine. The Supreme Chancellor’s deep dark secret was hidden even from the Jedi who worked with him and reported to him, let alone Jar Jar. Did he ever discover how he’d been used? It’s not hard to picture that Palpatine would’ve thought it appropriate turnabout:  he may have got what he wanted out of the earlier Naboo invasion. But Darth Sidious hadn’t expected the invasion to be foiled by a clumsy gungan telling the Queen his people had a convenient army! Best to subvert the gungan’s innocent goal of protecting his own people to his own ends just as he more drastically did to Anakin.

Ultimately though Jar Jar’s story is a message that many do not wish to accept: the clumsy, the annoying have potential that just needs the right moment and right person to choose and bring out the best in them.  Jar Jar isn’t made to be a super hero…he is the small, everyday hero.  People don’t choose to be clumsy and not often do they intentionally  annoy.  But to be brave, to help strangers and defend one’s own people when they didn’t want you?  Now that is a choice. That is the choice Jar Jar made.

“Helping Others is Both A Duty and a Privilege”

If you’ve ever played Star Wars: The Old Republic, you are probably familiar with this line. The Jedi say it a lot in conversation. It’s not exactly witty dialogue but it is truly what Jedi are supposed to stand for. Even Anakin Skywalker, right before he fell knew that this is what they were meant to be. “The Jedi are selfless, they only think about others.” (Revenge of the Jedi)

In a world where suddenly fans can’t simply each like the parts of Star Wars they prefer without having to destroy all who disagree, there are things on which we should.  Perhaps the difference between before and now is simply that before, there was something for all (in regard to merchandise).  Now there isn’t, at least without serious hunting. Now its the new stuff or nothing.  In point of fact, while some may love everything, prequels fans would simply like there share of merchandise, Original trilogy fans a share, and Expanded Universe fans a share, for instance simply more books and stories. None need be denied something: there was something for everyone for years. Why can’t we be that way again? Why can’t there be something for everyone? Well at the very least…there really IS something one can spend money on. Helping those who are less fortunate is always a worthy cause. It’s easy in game Star Wars the Old Republic to give a kid money (there is a Gree quest on Coruscant where you can do just that) because it really doesn’t take any actual credits away. It’s a bit harder in Knights of the Old Republic (where you have to earn them or loot them.) Since in the real world its a bit harder to get that money…we aren’t likely to trip over fallen people or monsters to loot (I HOPE). But what with finding less in stores I want to buy, I do find there are worthy places that might need it more. After all, that cool collectible will really need dusting. There are things worth more.

At the very least, there are things in the real world which we should agree on.  Sick and starving children, people who are ill, illiterate…and Star Wars fans can make a difference.

In our world, we have an opportunity to do right still.

Here are a few causes going around now.

twin-suns-logoTwin Suns Foundation already on the campaigns page, seeking to preserve and continue the Expanded Universe. Raising money to get the Star Wars Legends Books into the hands of children, currently those in the hospitals, is a worthy goal. Currently the fund raiser is for two hospitals and has only just begun. You can find out more here.

Peter Mayhew as ChewiePeter Mayhew, is everyone’s favorite wookiee Chewbacca is working to help kids in Venezuela. An economic crisis there is leading to severe malnutrition among children and this actor has a heart as soft for them as a wookiees fur. He is offering up challenge coins, $10 per coin to feed hungry kids. They ship in August and I don’t personally know when it ends. Here is where you can get in on a special wookiee coin and help kids too. You can also check out his Facebook page here.

Shannon McRandle as Mara JadeShannon McRandle is best known as Mara Jade, the model hired to be the character for Decipher’s Card Game. She’s always been a strong supporter of the Expanded Universe. But she’s now very ill and asking for support. If you’d like to know more and help, check out her Go Fund Me.

droidekaMagic Wheelchair is an ingenious idea to make sure kids who are in wheelchairs are not left out of the fun of wearing a costume at a convention or Halloween. They turn their wheelchairs into adventure! Not all of these are Star Wars themed of course, but some are. The latest being a Droideka from Episode 1. Check out their Star Wars Gallery here. and while you are there check out the rest of the site.

Lando Calrissian Expanded

general-landoLando apparently wanted to be a gambler and con artist from an early age. And he succeeded well enough to win fortunes (and lose them), starships, robots, and a mining colony. He also smuggled part time and even tried his hand at legitimate shipping.

He had an entreprenurial streak, but while on the surface he seemed selfish getting dragged into other people’s fights slowly helped mature him. The game to let him win Cloud City was rigged apparently (but not by him) in order to let him win. Yet being administrator made him responsible for the citizens. When Vader showed up looking for his buddy Han, Lando knew that the best thing for the citizens was to give him up. But how was he to know that Vader never intended to honor the deal? And so, he went for a rescue of Han’s friends, then Han, pausing only long enough to warn the citizens the Empire was taking control.

Lando was loyal, and even though Han had caused him a lot of trouble in the past, it was never intentional. His own guilty concious sent him out to find and rescue him even after they escaped Cloud City.

Ultimately, Lando would become a General in the Alliance, lead the final attack of the starfighters at Endor and fire the fatal shots that destroyed the Second Death Star.

AKA: Drebble (basically this was identity theft, he and the real Drebble hated each other.)

Family

Not much is known about them except he grew up in the Corellian system and definitely had a Mother. But he did find a wife through unconventional means. He was looking for a rich woman who would put up with (and back) his expensive schemes when he stumbled onto Tendra Risant. While not immediately rich (she had a trust fund) he did fall genuinely in love. They would marry and have a son, Lando Jr, who they called ‘Chance’.

In many ways however, Han, Luke, and Leia were also his family with the kids practically knowing him as an Uncle.

Friends

Han Solo was his most famous friend and also the one who got him in the most trouble. Not that he ever meant to, but somehow when Han was involved he often ended up with the short end of the stick somehow.

Vuffi Raa was another good friend, the small unique droid was created by a race of ‘sentient starships.

He continued working closely with Lando Calrissian and for a time actually smuggled along with Salla Zend.

Kyle Katarn was fortunately a friend, which is a good thing because while he wasn’t in charge of Cloud City he did have interest there, and investigating the gangs taking over got Lando caught by them on Nar Shaddaa.

Zak and Tash Arranda were two kids with Jedi Potential who stumbled on an Imperial plot on Hologram Fun world while Lando was there looking into investing. Fortunately for them, he proved friend enough for a rescue.

Lando had various other smuggling acquaintences, but its debatable how many he could truly count on.

Enemies

Lando booksRokur Gepta
Lando did not set out to make an enemy of the Sorceror of Tund. However when Gepta’s manipulations of him backfired, he set out to destroy Lando. In the end however Lando won.

Klyn Shanga
Shanga and his men weren’t really Lando’s enemies, he just inherited them from his pal Vuffi over a misunderstanding. They thought he was the organic being who destroyed their world. Until it was sorted, he often got caught int he crossfire.

Darth Vader
In all probability Vader himself gave little thought to him. But no doubt being forced to turn Han in and abandoning Cloud City left Lando thinking of him as the enemy.

Ev-9D9
Lando had no idea how convinced she was that he would pursue her. But he did destroy her antics on Cloud City that involved the brutal torture and murder of the droid workforce.

Accomplishments and Challenges – Character growth

Lando’s earliest aspirations apparently were just ‘be the best gambler’. He loved the thrills and the winning. He also had no problem conning people out of their money. Presumably he targeted the rich (not much to fleece from the poor for one thing.) He went on to be a smuggler as well.

But while his primary goals were selfish, he still made friends along the way and still found himself helping out. His helping out the Sharu earned him some consideration, his saving the Oswaft made him rich. These were side effects rather than goals.

Still, while putting himself in harms way for profit was usually the modus operandi, he did do it for friends as well. He rescued Han from Boba Fett once before he even knew him, convinced a pirate ex-girlfriend to pay off Fett to save Han’s Ex girlfriend from the same bounty hunter and even rescued Zak and Tash Arranda from Hologram Fun World with no profit to himself. He could’ve fled when the Empire decided to make an example of the Smuggler’s Moon of Nar Shaddaa but instead stayed to fight. When he landed Cloud City, he had to balance the desire to gamble (but not take advantage) and the needs of the populace. He didn’t turn on Han for greed, but to save the City’s citizens from Imperial takeover and when that failed, warned them.

Conscience stirred at being forced to choose between equally bad sacrifices, he now found himself working with the Rebellion and using old contacts to help them and find Han.

For a man who preferred a certain culture, it would’ve been no small sacrifice to go undercover in the dregs of Jabba’s court for the rescue. After that instead of jaunting off to gamble for credits or riches, he was gambling his neck against the Empire and Death Star 2.

While he still enjoyed gambling, he largely went back to being an entreprenuer and investing. Once more he found himself seeking to save and help Cloud City, even to the point of poking around Nar Shaddaa to find out who the kingpins taking over were when he had no authority and needing a rescue by Kyle Katarn.

Even while pursuing his own interests and having given up the rank of General, Lando continued to be available when the New Republic needed his aid.

Stories starring Lando Calrissian

Movie Years:

The Empire Strikes Back Radio Drama by Brian Daley
Return of the Jedi Radio Drama by Brian Daley
(Note these radio dramatization of the movies includes extra and extended scenes not available elsewhere. Also star the original actor as the voice of Lando.)

Classic Marvel Comics:
TESB adaptation
regular issues 83-197
ROTJ adaptation
regular issues 46-79
Lando Calrissian Trilogy by L Neil Smith (this is set between Hutt Gambit and Rebel Dawn)
Han Solo Trilogy by A.C. Crispin specifically:
Han Solo: Hutt Gambit
Han Solo: Rebel Dawn
Underworld: Yavin Vasillika (Dark Horse Comics)
Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn (Check out an Audio Excerpt!)
Galaxy of Fear Series –  by Whitman – Cameo only
Shadows of the Empire: Evolution (Dark Horse Comics)
Tales of Jabba’s Palace (various short stories)

Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
Heir to the Empire
Dark Force Rising
The Last Command

Dark Empire – Dark Horse Comics – Also Audio Adaptation where Billy Dee Williams Reprises the role
Dark Empire2- Dark Horse Comics
Empire’s End – Dark Horse Comics

Jedi Academy Trilogy by Kevin J. Anderson
Jedi Search
Dark Apprentice
Champions of the Force

Lando in Jedi Outcast

Lando in Jedi Outcast

Jedi Outcast (game)- Cameo by Lando where Billy Dee Williams Reprises the role

Black Fleet Crisis by McDowell

The New Rebellion by Kristin Kathryn Rusch

The Corellian Trilogy by Roger Allen McBride
Ambush at Corellia
Assault at Selonia
Showdown at Centerpoint

Thrawn Duology by Timothy Zahn
Specter of the Past
Vision of the Future

Young Jedi Knights by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta
Trouble on Cloud City
Crisis at Crystal Reef

New Jedi Order Era by Multiple authors

Chewbacca (tribute) – Dark Horse Comics

Legacy of the Force Series by multiple authors
Millenium Falcon by James Luceno
Fate of the Jedi series by multiple authors
Crucible by Troy Denning

Redemption in Star Wars

Star Wars was always a space fantasy heavily influenced by myth with elements from many religious traditions. Among them it also has a Christian element, specific to the Easter time of year,  that of redemption.  The original trilogy reveals this only in the third movie, as we finally have confirmation that yes, Vader is Luke’s father. The Empire Strikes Back hinted at it, in the novelization it was fairly clear (and that no doubt based on an earlier draft of the final script) but Luke seems to sense it as truth though he still wants to deny it and asks Yoda for the truth.

Anakin-redeemed-by-LukeWith the prequels we get more of the story. Anakin was indeed a good friend, strong in the Force and great pilot. He was generous, kind and knew nothing of greed.  His mother was generous enough to let him go with the Jedi, knowing it was his only chance for freedom and to pursue his dreams. She couldn’t know that life would test him before he was ready. While his powers made him arrogant, the Jedi (besides Obi-Wan) did not seem too concerned. What should’ve concerned them were his nightmarish visions of losing his Mother.  “Dreams pass in time,” said Obi-Wan. The trouble is they passed with her death, and had Anakin recognized and been allowed to heed them sooner perhaps she could’ve been saved.  And so, devastating the sandpeople enraged not just at them but at himself, he steps toward the Dark Side. Follow this with losing an arm and years of losing friends to war, and then the same dreams of losing Padme, he was teetering on the edge.  He was not thinking clearly as a Jedi, but thinking with his terror and clearly Palpatine was able to telepathically communicate in a way that should not have been possible had they not already been close.

And so in an effort to save her he turned on everything he loved, betrayed himself and ultimately, got her killed (albeit  unintentionally.)

Anakin had been happy at the idea of having a child (he didn’t know there were children.) So when Luke comes along his efforts to win Luke are just as they were to win Padme (if tempered by a reluctance to do permanent damage.) Luke wins Anakin back by passing the test his Father failed. Luke is willing to sacrifice it all, to sacrifice himself.  The  natural thing for many to do is to fight back when friends and family are in danger, even if it means using the wrong method to do it. But Luke realized the end doesn’t justify the means. If he has to become Vader to beat him, then he hasn’t really won or saved his friends at  all. And so, while he fears for Leia and his friends he refuses to fight.  Anakin is once more faced with the choice. To remember who he was and be that man again, or let his son perish for the mistakes of his father.

While Anakin is the primary redemption arc in the saga, he isn’t the only one.

Lando Calrissian

general-landoLando’s betrayal seems far worse than it actually is. It’s a harder thing for a child watching it to grasp for one thing, plus the original release, limited by budget and technology, didn’t show the full scope of Cloud City and it’s people. Perhaps this is why some tweaks were added to the Special Edition and on to show just how many people were in Cloud City. It was always indicated that it was a city, that the people were anxious to avoid the Empire’s attention. No doubt many of them for whatever reason were hiding there. Forced to choose between the people of Cloud City who were his responsibility and leader and Han Solo his friend, he chose his people. Unfortunately he realized a bit late that he really hadn’t protected them from anything since Vader never intended to honor the deal.

Lando sets out to redeem himself by rescuing Han from Boba Fett and Jabba and then by joining the Rebellion and leading the attack on the second death star.

It’s worth noting that the Expanded Universe also has some powerful redemption arcs.

talesofthejedi5 Uliq and CayUliq Qel Droma

The most noteworthy is Uliq Qel Droma, because though his story predates the prequels, the story arc is very similar.

He begins as a Jedi, seeking to stop the spread of Sith secrets of Freedon Nadd from Onderon.  He blames himself when the enemy who have uncovered Sith secrets attacks a Jedi Conclave and kills his  Jedi Master, Arca Jeth. His plan to infiltrate the Krath attackers, that the council has already rejected, remains firm in his mind.  Going undercover, he attacks rebellious miners to ingratiate himself into the Krath elite (thereby killing presumed innocents.)  Once there he is tortured with Sith poison and seduced by a the Krath Sith Sorceress. By the time his friends come trying to pull him out he is already in to deep. Into this marches Exar Kun, initially to destroy him. But as he and Uliq both possess an amulet, it brings them together and soon Uliq is his apprentice.

Uliq continues on this destructive course, now attacking the Republic itself, claiming allegiance of the Mandalorean clans, and finally joining Exar Kun’s destruction of suns near the Jedi world of Ossus. As the firestorm sweeps toward the world and Jedi evacuate, Cay Qel-Droma sees his brother coming in and tries to force him down. They fought, Cay pleading for him to come back. Uliq kills Cay.  Shocked by what he has done, he has no time to recover before discovery by Nomi Sunrider who uses her powers to block him from the Force. A shaken Uliq takes the Jedi to Yavin 4 where Exar Kun is hiding.  They unleash their powers and trap his spirit on that world.

Still, Uliq is a War Criminal. He wanders many years seeking to win back his powers, seeking redemption before giving up and finding a frozen world of Rhen Var. But fate isn’t through with him. A young Vima Sunrider, tired of her mother never having time to train her seeks him out to train her. He reluctantly gives in (for he can’t send her away) and finds peace.

It’s interesting how close to how Anakin fell Uliq is: losing someone they care about, wanting power to prevent it happening again (Anakin – how to prevent death, Uliq – how to block their powers), killing the innocent (however understandable the motives ie they killed Anakin’s mother, the miners would’ve died anyway, finally both betray the Jedi), killing someone they loved.

His story is told in Tales of the Jedi: Knights of the Old Republic, Dark Lords of the Sith, The Sith War, Redemption. He also has a small part in the Clone Wars, a 2003 XBox game.

Gav & Jori Daragon

Star Wars Tales of the Jedi Golden Age of the SithGav and his sister Jori were orphaned when their cargo hauling parents were caught in a crossfire between in Empress Teta’s war with Rebels on her worlds. Their quest to become hyperspace explorers kept netting them little but bad debt until a vengeful merchant blamed them for his own choice of a route marked dangerous that cost him a shipment. Running for their lives, they stole their ship from Arrba the Hutt who held it for past repair bills. This time they found a viable route. Unfortunately, it led to the long lost Sith Empire. Sentenced to death but ‘rescued’ by the ambitious Naga Sadow, they were separated and Jori tricked into leaving without Gav, who Sadow was teaching Sith magic too.

Jori returned and tried to warn the Republic but their flight from debt and stealing the ship led her to a prison colony. Escaping she warned Empress Teta and gave focus to the Jedi’s dark visions.

Gav meanwhile was convinced the people would be better off under the Empire. His doubts didn’t crystallize until leading the Sith fleet he landed at Aarba’s repair dock seeking Jori, and his guards killed their old hutt friend.

Gav went to Naga Sadow and distracted him from his Sith battle meditation, but fell prey to a trick, stranding him near an exploding star. But his sacrifice and redemption allowed Empress Teta, the Jedi and Jori to go back to the Sith Empire and devastate their attackers at the source.

Jori, for her role in saving the day, was given Aarba’s repair dock.

Their story is told in Tales of the Jedi: Golden Age of the Sith and Fall of the Sith Empire

Kyp Durron

Jedi Academy Leviathan-Kyp was disadvantaged at the start, taken to the Kessel penal colony as a mere child where his parents died, and his brother was hauled off to be brainwashed into a Stormtrooper at the Carida academy. The closest he had to an ally was Vima Da Boda, former Jedi, who taught him some skills with the Force.  Rescued by Han Solo, he starts at Luke’s Jedi Academy. But no one realizes before it’s too late that though Exar Kun was defeated there, his spirit remained and was able to make mischief. Influencing young Kyp, the young Jedi ripped an Imperial super weapon he and Solo had found out of the heart of planet Yavin and sent Luke Skywalker into a coma.

He set out to destroy the Empire for what they did to him. Heading for Carida, he fell for the lie that his brother had died in training and fired the super weapon at the son. Too late he found his brother lived. His rescue attempt was failed and all on the planet died.

Back at the academy the Jedi trainees defeated the spirit of Exar Kun, and Kyp, devastated that he’d killed his brother and no longer under Kun’s influence, was brought to his senses by Han Solo. Returning to Yavin 4 to face Luke, he was put through tests which he passed. Then he helped destroy the sun crusher and a prototype death star weapon at great personal pain and sacrifice.

His story is told in the novels Jedi Academy Trilogy: Jedi Search, Dark Apprentice, Champions of the Force with some further action also in the novel  Darksaber as well as the comic book Jedi Academy: Leviathan.

Cade Skywalker

cade-legacy-endofaneraThe young boy he was trained as a Jedi. But when the Sith Empire joined forces with the Fel Empire (a mistake the Fel’s would regret) they destroyed the Ossus academy and his father fell in battle. He helped the other student’s escape but was lost in space and found by pirates who aimed to loot the place. Forced to pretend it had nothing to do with him, he had to leave his Father lie, unburied or cremated, as the pirates did as they would. They raised Cade and he became one of the crew.

Years later Cade was a bounty hunter, even turning in other Jedi for the reward with his best friend a man who hated Jedi, addicted to Death sticks and far from what he would’ve been.

But fate would not let the last Skywalker be, and he found himself forced back into the conflict, to choose to be Jedi (albeit an unusual rough edged one) or a Sith.

His story is told in Star Wars: Legacy

Revan

Revan

As Mandalore went to war against the Republic and the Jedi Council refused to get involved,the Jedi Knight Revan determined he would join the Republic war effort and take any other Jedi that would go. Among them were his apprentice Malek and his friend Meetra Surik.

But the war was devastating and soon afterward, on investigating what led to it, he and Malek fell to the Dark Side, turning and leading a large part of the Republic Fleet back against their former allies. The Jedi finally had to intervene, as Malek turned on Revan and fired on his ship, they boarded, captured him and erased his memory, enabling him to begin fresh.

As time goes on his memory is revealed as he picks up companions: Carth, Bastila (who was among those who captured him), Mission Vao, Zaalbar, T3 and even Canderous Ordo of the Mandaloreans. In the end stopping Malek is up to him.

Afterward though, he still has to face some hard truth: what made him turn, what has he forgotten. It’s important. In his quest to find out what made him turn…things will come out about the Sith and the Sith Empire that will change the galaxy forever.

His story is told in the game Knights of the Old Republic, with more revealed in the novel Revan, and in revelations in Knights of the Old Republic 2 and the Old Republic.

Exile AKA Meetra Surik

Meetra_Surik_Ghost

The Exile circa. Star Wars The Old Republic as a ghost.

War is seldom black and white. In saving people from the devastation of the Mandaloreans, the final battle of the war caused mutually assured destruction of both sides and created a ‘wound’ in the Force at the world of Malachor V. The Exile, lost or cut off from the Force and ordered away by the Jedi who felt joining the war was wrong had to make her own path.

But eventually she must return, and finds Revan is missing, the Republic crumbling do to an economy and ecologies ruined by war, and Sith have stalked and destroyed most of the Jedi.

There is only one thing to be done: Stop the Sith, find out what happened to the Jedi and how she can make right the wound that her last battle created.

Her story is told in Knights of the Old Republic 2

Atton

swkotor2 Atton RandAtton’s fate depends on the Exile for he will follow her lead.

But he once served under Darth Revan, capturing and torturing Jedi. Then one captured Jedi warned him he himself could well end up in the same position for he had the power and he  fled. But once he meets the Exile, he falls for her. And now his fate will be heavily influenced by her choices.

Now he can redeem himself by stopping the Sith alongside the Exile.

His story is told in Knights of the Old Republic 2

 

Honor Among Thieves Review

Honor Among Thieves Book Cover Honor Among Thieves
Star Wars
James S.A. Corey
Del Rey
2014

When the Empire threatens the galaxy’s new hope, will Han, Luke, and Leia become its last chance?

When the mission is to extract a high-level rebel spy from the very heart of the Empire, Leia Organa knows the best man for the job is Han Solo—something the princess and the smuggler can finally agree on. After all, for a guy who broke into an Imperial cell block and helped destroy the Death Star, the assignment sounds simple enough.

But when Han locates the brash rebel agent, Scarlet Hark, she’s determined to stay behind enemy lines. A pirate plans to sell a cache of stolen secrets that the Empire would destroy entire worlds to protect—including the planet where Leia is currently meeting with rebel sympathizers. Scarlet wants to track down the thief and steal the bounty herself, and Han has no choice but to go along if he’s to keep everyone involved from getting themselves killed. From teeming city streets to a lethal jungle to a trap-filled alien temple, Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and their daring new comrade confront one ambush, double cross, and firestorm after another as they try to keep crucial intel out of Imperial hands.

But even with the crack support of Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing squadron, the Alliance heroes may be hopelessly outgunned in their final battle for the highest of stakes: the power to liberate the galaxy from tyranny or ensure the Empire’s reign of darkness forever.

Honor-among-thievesI had a hard time rating this one…really I’d go 3 1/2 stars. The story itself is good its just the niggling details that bother me.

 

Continuity:

This story fits between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

For Han Solo, the attitude of being unsure of his place matches that he has in Allegiance. Although the timeline in the book suggests it goes after Choices of One, their is an event in this book that should’ve affected his attitude in this one. So it could be it’s before Choices.

Leia also matches the attitudes and behavior in those two books, still trying to woo Alliance members (this was also how Splinter of the Mind’s Eye begins) but also acting as a military leader in choosing what risks to take and whose life to risk.

Luke is a bit iffier in spite of his small role in the book. The problem here is really Wedge Antillies being Commander. Wedge is definitely not in command in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke is.

It’s not insurmountable but its confusing. Is this before or after they flee Yavin? Luke was initially promoted to Commander when they fled, but it didn’t stick since the only one who knew it apparently died there (Classic Star Wars comic strips). He was then promoted to Commander of Red Squadron AKA Rogue Squadron after Commander Narra died. (This is in TESB Radio Drama and right when they are setting up Hoth.) Rogue Squadron was initially part of Red Squadron, with Renegade Flight led by Narra as another part.

It IS possible that Red Blade Flight (mentioned in this book) was meant to be another part of Red Squadron and it was decimated and the survivors moved into Rogue group, thereby forming the new Rogue Squadron. That still leaves Wedge a mystery though. He has been with the Alliance longer and had more training, but somehow Luke ends up outranking him. Demotion? A refusal of promotion? Was Luke promoted due to more courageous (or at least more obvious) acts? Either way Luke is the one who created Rogue Group (according to the X-Wing series) and Wedge ends up his second (according to The Empire Strikes Back.)

-Noghri. At one point Han sees a noghri female, a species he shouldn’t know about until post Thrawn trilogy. However, since the book is NOT told first person, its possible this just is a description for the reader. The species was out in the galaxy, and even Han didn’t recognize every species out there.

-The Weapon.  Given there are numerous species with ancient superweapons lying around such as the Rakata, the Gree and whatever drove the Sharu into hiding, its not unreasonable for this weapon to exist. It did however bother me the scale of it.

SPOILERS.
While races like the Rakata and whatever drove the Sharu into hiding might inspire extreme technological advancements, it seems odd one would invent something that had the power to wipe out hyperdrive ANYWHERE would be forgotten, its people lost. I’d have had a much easier time keeping my belief suspended if the device had been something more limited, even if it was still potentially devastating.

Ultimately the niggling little continuity glitches (I mean the Wedge and Luke thing is right there in The Empire Strikes Back, never mind the rest of the Expanded Universe) makes me lower my rating of it since yanking me out of the universe due to confusion isn’t a good thing.  I had trouble believing the second macguffin (the first being the data, the second being what it claimed) was for real.  Also it bugged me just a bit how the woman struck me as always being smarter and quicker on the uptake than Han. This could be just how it came across, as Han was feeling out of place still working for the Rebels. But  Han has always been a fast thinker (for better or worse) and most of the best stories have the characters as equals. Witness how he and Leia balance in other stories, or Luke and Mara for instance.

Black History in Star Wars

Diversity in Star Wars

On Earth, this tends to mean ‘color’. In Star Wars its a bit more than that, given the sheer number of non human species. Everyone isn’t black or white or brown. They might be blue, green, yellow, red or any other color. They aren’t all male or female, some are both, or neither.  But to connect to Earth, lets focus on those black  human characters since people seem to have forgotten they exist, just because no one waved a big ‘marketing’ flag for them.

Characters:

general-landoLando Calrissian: Actor, Billy Dee Williams.

We met him the hard way in The Empire Strikes Back. First he’s friend, then traitor, then we find he really had no choice. As a child its hard (or for me it was) to realize that the entire city was under his management and denying Darth Vader to protect his friend would be the ruin of his citizens. Nonetheless, when he realized they were ruined anyway he helped them escape, seek out and rescue Han. He helped lead the Rebels to victory in Return of the Jedi, firing the shot that destroyed the second Death Star.

But we also met him in stories like the Lando Calrissian Adventures, and found how he got the Falcon. We met him in the Han Solo trilogy and watched him lose it. He and Han shared many an adventure together, and we see him in a few of his own.

After Return of the Jedi he goes back to his Baron Administrator days, trying a mining operation on Nkllon. But he keeps getting yanked back to helping the New Republic. He also hunts for a rich wife (who to his shock he actually finds and falls mutually in love with), helps take over Kessel spice mines and replace the prison with a working facility by those who LIKE working in caves, and retakes Cloud City. (All this in no particular order.) Eventually he has a son named Chance and also helps create a droid army to help fight an extragalactic invader known as the Yuuzhan Vong.

About the Actor: Appearing as Lando in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, he also did the voice in numerous video games including Dark Forces: Jedi Knight 2, Jedi Outcast. He has left his unforgettable stamp on both the likeness, voice and character of Lando.
He also appeared in Fanboys ( a parody look at Star Wars fans) as Judge Reinhold.

Appearing in many Star Wars Expanded Universe adventures, he has his own trilogy: the Lando Calrissian Adventures by L. Neil Smith.

Mace Windu in shatterpointMace Windu: Actor, Samuel L. Jackson

A Jedi Council Member, Mace was a close personal confidante of Yoda, stern, no nonsense and utterly dedicated to the Republic. As a close friend of Dooku, he also didn’t believe the man would be behind assassination attempts, proving he was fallible. Mace was wary of Anakin Skywalker, given the lateness of his entry into the Order and his connection to his Mother. He beleived in the prophecy and that Anakin could fulfill it, but was increasingly wary of his friendship with Palpatine. Unfortunately his distrust created a kind of feedback loop: given that Palpatine manipulated the war, and Anakin and even the Council, the fact that they refused to trust him actually pushed Anakin closer to the Dark Side. At the moment of crisis, Mace’s lack of relationship with Anakin after Palpatine had spent years building one proved his undoing.

Appearing in many Star Wars Expanded Universe adventures, but specifically Shatterpoint is focused entirely on Mace’s quest to save his former Apprentice from the Dark Side during the Clone Wars. plus the Mace Windu one shot by Dark Horse comics.

Samuel L. Jackson loved Star Wars so much he offered to be in it even if he was just a trooper. He also convinced Lucas to let him have a purple lightsaber. (http://thehollywoodinterview.blogspot.com/2008/01/samuel-l-jackson-hollywood-interview.html)

captain-panaka

Captain Panaka, The Phantom Menace

Captain Panaka: Actor, Hugh Quarshie
A Naboo native and Queen Amidala’s head of security  in The Phantom Menace, he was distrustful of putting their faith in the Jedi but overruled. During the Imperial Era he had been promoted to Moff. He believe the Empire had brought order to chaos.

Fiolla of Lorrd
In spite of images showing a lighter complexion, the book description of her runs darker, as coming from a planet with a high solar radiation.

“The human appeared to be several years younger than Han. She had straight black hair that fell just below the nape of her slender neck. Her skin was rich brown, her eyes nearly black, indicating that she came from a world that received a good deal of solar radiation.” ~ Han Solo’s Revenge, by Brian Daley

 

Salla_Zend

Salla Zend, smuggler

Salla Zend
Han and Salla were an item once, both smuggling with Nar Shaddaa as a base. They fought in the Battle of Nar Shaddaa together when the Empire got it into its mind to totally wipe out the smuggler’s moon. However when Salla lost her ship in a dangeous smuggling job and he rescued her,  she started talking marriage without listening to his reservations. Finally Han gave up on subtle hints and decided to get out of town…or rather, the whole sector for awhile. He jetted off to the Corporate Sector. Salla kept on smuggling, and started to build a new ship. She had permission to fly deep into Imperial Space when Han and Leia needed a lift there. She reluctantly gave them one and even rescued them when they got in hot water but lost her new ship too.

Triv Pothman
Black curly hair, brown skin, this imperial trooper waited decades for a secret imperial battleship to pick him up. by the time the delayed arrival happened he’d gone native and wanted no part of it. sadly there is no artwork of Triv.  He appears in Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly

Sixtus Quinn, from X-Wing Battleground:Tattooine

Sixtus Quinn, from X-Wing Battleground:Tattooine

Sixtus Quinn
Abandoned by his commanding officer on a world where he could’ve been sold as slave, he led his men into joining with Rogue Squadron. He became a resistance fighter, going places the New Republic couldn’t officially hit, such as Thyferra. He first appeared in Dark Horse comics, X-Wing series, Battleground:Tatooine story arc. He reprised his role in the Bacta War. Being a black man was the colorists choice.

dace-diath-jedi

Jedi Dace Diath, Tales of the Jedi: Dark Lords of the Sith

Dace Diath
Jedi Knight from Tatooine that fought in the Great Sith War alongside, and then against Uliq Qel Droma and then Exar Kun. His father was Sidrona Diath. He first appears in Tales of the Jedi, The Freedon Nadd Uprising.

Jolee Bindo, Knights of the Old Republic

Jolee Bindo, Knights of the Old Republic

Jolee Bindo
Fan fav Jolee has the wisdom of a senile, disillusioned Jedi. He left the Order sometime after the Great Sith War and was content to stay alone in exile in the wild lowlands of Kashyyyk until Revan upended his life. Jolee helped bring down Darth Malak and stop his Star Forge.Darth Marr
Thanks to his usually being masked and hooded, you may not know it. But in the rare times he removes it Darth Marr is proven to be a dark skinned human. He is a companion in Knights of the Old Republic video game.

Darth Marr

This is Darth Marr if you preview an armor change. In order to do this, you have to skip out of the first chapter of Knights of the Fallen Empire in Star Wars the Old Republic before he .. ah… well before you lose him as companion! credit:Rebelibrarian

Darth Marr
You wouldn’t know it to look at him, because he keeps his face behind a mask. But here is a shot of him if you preview him without the classic armor in Star Wars The Old Republic.

rohlan-dyre-mando

Mandalorean Rohlan Dyre, Knights of the Old Republic Comics

Rohlan Dyre
This honorable mandalorean was highly suspicious of the methods used in attacking the Republic. His people were warriors, but gradually drawing the Republic to war instead of going at them upfront wasn’t there usual approach and he sought the truth. While willing to fight, he also sought to escape the battles to go hunting for answers. In the process he ran into Zayne Carrik and his gang, and at one point was tricked and mistaken for Demagol, who took his place while leaving him to suffer for the immoral scientist’s crimes. Rohlan however, wasn’t done yet. He appears in Knights of the Old Republic comics, beginning in the Flashpoint story arc.

Agent Fauler
A strategic information service agent of the Republic, he was assigned to work with former Czerka employee Kamus to find out what they’d left buried on Tatooine. This is a quest in Star Wars: The Old Republic available to Republic player classes involving the Tatooine planetary story arc.

Behind the scenes or the actors  you don’t see.

Darth Vader:
James Earl Jones, the famous voice from the movies.
Brock Peters (did his voice in the NPR radio dramas) and
Scott Lawrence (did the voice acting in Dark Forces, classic Battlefront 2, Empire at War and more.)

Jar Jar Binks: Voice and CGI Actor: Ahmed Best
He did the acting that was motion captured for CGI in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith thereby paving the way for characters like Gollum and the latest Hulk. He also did the voice: Jar Jar’s voice was the same accent he used reading to his own families children. (Reference here: https://nerdist.com/jar-jar-binks-actor-talks-about-why-backlash-was-so-hard-on-him/  – note that I in NO WAY agree with the authors/interviewers opinion on The prequels or the Phantom Menace.) Don’t claim no diversity and then grumble that it’s racist that a dark skinned guy used the same voice he used to read to his family is racism. That is insulting to him and his family.  Also there are many people who love Jar Jar, especially those who first met Star Wars in the prequels yet his contribution to the very innovations that helped shape modern CGI things like Gollum, maybe even Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk have been ignored. (Source: twitter, but here is a list:  https://www.avclub.com/ahmed-best-calls-out-andy-serkis-for-ignoring-jar-jars-1819955507)
He also did Jar Jar’s voice in video games including:
Gungan Frontier, The Phantom Menace Game, Jedi Power Battles, Bombad Racing,

Voice Actors

Chop’aa Notimo (The Force Unleashed), Master Zez-Kai Ell (Knights of the Old Republic 2) : Billy Brown

Commander Zaletta (X-Wing Alliance)- Andre Ware 

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace: The Video Game (1999) Captain Panaka/Neimoidian Controller :  Jeff-Coopwood

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Felix Iresso, Star Wars The Old Republic

Felix Iresso, Republic Soldier, Star Wars The Old Republic

Felix Iresso: Dion Graham.
The character’s ‘default’ face as well as one custom is dark skinned, the actor is as well. He’s one of the romanceable (for female characters) in the Jedi Consular story arc.)

Xalex : Tony Armatrading
The Sith Apprentice is available as a companion in the Sith Inquisitor story arc and to all in Knights of the Fallen Empire.

 

The fact is, it takes a great many people to bring something as grand as Star Wars to life. Invented characters you see onscreen like in Star Wars the Old Republic can come in a variety of colors, as they also do in the imagination of the artists and authors. Its a disservice to the many involved to say they were all white male humans before Disney came along. What’s more the people behind the scenes come in all colors. You rarely can tell looking at the voice credits what color an actor is (they don’t all supply pictures on the internet!) or what color a writer or artist might be, or what color the character is that flows from the pen or ink. Why should they? After all, they are known by their works. And in George Lucas’s Star Wars, diversity has always been part of the package.

Han Solo Adventures by Brian Daley Review

Han Solo Adventures Book Cover Han Solo Adventures
Star Wars Expanded Universe
Brian Daley
sci fi/fantasy, movie tie ins
Del Rey
1979-1980
hardcover and paperback

Han Solo soars again--in this awesome trilogy of his extraordinary exploits. Ride with him as he rides to the rescue, narrowly escapes certain death, and foils evil in its ruthless tracks!

Some of the oldest stories in the Expanded Universe, before it had an official name or continuity. In fact, at the time of writing they their was no original trilogy, just one movie called Star Wars. Brian Daley did a fabulous job of staying true to the movies. Han’s early adventures introduced the Corporate Sector, an area of space that the Empire largely left to its own devices for a piece of the action. But that doesn’t it make a freer place than the Empire, on the contrary. Speaking out against the Corporate Sector and stealing from it the take very seriously, and they are just as likely to exploit, if not more so, the natives.

Han Solo Adventures trilogy by Brian Daley

Han Solo Adventures trilogy by Brian Daley

The Novels:

Han Solo at Star’s End

The first of the trilogy involves Han and Chewie doing their thing, being smugglers. Finding themselves disadvantaged by the new tech the Authorities have, they seek out to pay debts and get new upgrades. This leads them to a quest to find lost people, those who spoke or acted against the Authority. It also leads to some hints that Han is a more complex character than he has a chance to show in A New Hope.

It’s a rip roaring adventure with some tense moments. You know the heroes must survive. But what about their new allies, who you come to like just as much?

Speaking of the modern marketing term diversity, Daley was doing it back in the ‘70s. Rekkon was a black man, and it also features critical roles for Jessa, leader of the outlaw techs and Attuare, a feline female ranger.

Han Solo’s Revenge

The second book features Han and Chewie desperate for cash and taking a chance that leads to near disaster. Tangled up with a fight against slavers alongside an Authority Exec looking to shut them down, they find themselves once more on the run and finding foes and allies in strange places. They aren’t always who you’d expect.

Chewie has a great role in this one. Many stories treat Chewie as the big hairy sidekick. This one gives him a chance to shine on his own, being creative to survive.

It also introduces a great female character: Fiolla of Loord. She is described as having rich brown skin and black hair. She isn’t just some female love interest…instead she is a determined young woman seeking justice working within the system.

It also introduces Gallandro, a real gunman. He doesn’t get much play yet.

Han Solo and the Lost Legacy

This third book is a real treasure hunt. Han and Chewie meet an old pal hard on his luck and needing help to find a treasure that could bring him out of poverty. This leads to the planet Dellalt, home of the fabled treasure of Xim the Despot. But their is competition and someone has already died for it. When the enemy gets ahold of the Falcon, they are forced to trek across the planet, fighting a cult of Xim worshippers as well as the local competition…and then there is the enemy they made last time. Gallandro is on the trail and he wants revenge.

Once more we meet new characters and species. Badure is a former officer and flight trainer who reveals more hints of Han’s military past. Hasti, his friend and ally, whose sister was murdered at the hands of the competition and Skynx, a ruurian historian who will one day metamorphous into a newer but less active life form.

Tie Ins

Han solo at Stars End comic 1 small

Han solo at Stars End comic 1 comic

Han Solo at Star’s End Comic Strip.

Only the first story was adapted into a comic strip, later turned into a comic book and colored by Dark Horse Comics. As a comic strip in and of itself its a decent story but as an adaptation it suffered in 2 ways.

While the line art is generally good in this, it suffers some that the artist had apparently not seen the movie in awhile. Everyone who has will remember the Falcon’s game board and know its round and surrounded by a couch. It is not a flat square table with a regular Earth game of checkers.

The second issue is specifically for those who read the books. If you only read the comic it may not matter. But the entire opening is cut short and altered, perhaps its too long or difficult to illustrate. At the end, the story is altered drastically in how they escape. Again maybe they thought it more exciting or easy to illustrate. Or maybe they just had a limit of how many strips they could do and couldn’t fit it in. All told though as an adaptation it suffers for it. Also is the detail that trianni don’t wear clothes according to the book. Why they felt a need to clothe them in the comic might be explained by modesty standards, but only if one ignores that Chewie is also furry and has none.

It’s a decent comic, if cheesy and dated. It’s just not a great adaptation.

Fiolla of Lorrd: Wizards of the Coast and Death in the Slave Pits of Lorrd.

It’s unfortunate that for some reason artists got her totally wrong. The one most guilty of this is Wizards of the Coast, which ignored the ‘rich brown skin’ description. They may have gotten the idea from the short story “Death in the Slave Pits of Lorrd”, a hyperspace feature that short story available only to subscribers of starwars.com. In the story Tash Arranda (of Galaxy of Fear series) is telling of an adventure where she met Fiolla. Her scribbled picture had lighter skin. This however could be the in universe equivalent of not having the right color of crayon. Wizards of the Coast chose which version to use. This is a shame. (Except for color the artwork is otherwise good.)

As it fits into the Expanded Universe, the other stories very effectively use Brian Daley’s set up. The radio drama’s he also wrote reference Han in the same way. The Ann Crispin Han Solo Trilogy brilliantly interweave with it, actually explaining why Han went to the Corporate Sector in the First place and showing it as interludes while explaining what was going on that would effect him back in the Empire. The Dark Horse comics story Agent of the Empire: Iron Eclipse, we get to see Imperial Agent Jahan Cross hire Han for helping his adventure while in the Corporate Sector (something Han says yes too since they were academy friends.) Much later, a few of people and species from these will show up as cameos in the New Jedi Order series.

West End Game also did a Han Solo and the Corporate Sector Sourcebook.

These stories were released individually in hardcover and paperback, as well as 2 omnibuses.

Luke Skywalker Expanded

Luke_ANH-Windham

A New Hope: The Life of Luke Skywalker by Ryder Windham

Luke Skywalker was just a farm boy with big dreams. It looked like would never act on them. But he had a past even he knew nothing about. And a destiny that was greater than he could imagine.

Due to his Uncle’s interference, he kept procrastinating at going away to the Imperial Academy. Falling for his Uncles manipulative (if well meaning, for he knew what Luke didn’t) line that his family needed him.

His naive dream of just becoming a heroic star pilot takes a dark turn when his Aunt and Uncle are killed by stormtroopers. The mere presence of a droid carrying rebel plans they were ignorant of leads Luke on a quest to join with Obi-Wan Kenobi to deliver them and become a Jedi like his Father.

What he didn’t know was that he was destined to not only destroy the Empire’s greatest weapon, but to resurrect the Jedi within Darth Vader, that had once been Anakin Skywalker.

Along the way he discovers the Princess, whose holo message R2 once carried is his sister, gained a best friend in a smuggler, wookiee and a con artist, and sets out to rebuild all his Father once destroyed.

Family

Luke knew nothing of his sister as a child. His Uncle was step son to his grandmother. His mother a Queen of Naboo and Senator who died tragically when her husband fell from being heroic Jedi to a dark lord of the Sith.

Once Luke brought Anakin back from the darkness, he spent some time learning about him in old records.

Luke’s sister Leia had 3 children, Jacen, Jaina and Anakin. Luke went on to train all 3 as Jedi knights.

Eventually, he married Mara Jade, the former Emperor’s Hand, turned smuggler, then Jedi. They had one son, Ben. It is known that he had direct descendants in Kol Skywalker, his brother Bantha, and Kol’s son Cade.

Friends

Luke made a great many friends in his journeys. His closest childhood friend, Biggs Darklighter, joined the Rebel Alliance before him and was killed in the battle over the first Death Star.

Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando became friends who stuck with him through everything for a lifetime, even if they didn’t understand the Force guiding him or how it worked.

In the more ‘normal’ career department, as a pilot Luke made lifelong friends in Rogue Squadron as well including Wedge Antillies, Wes Janson and Hobbie, all of whom survived multiple wars with him.

Accomplishes and Challenges – Character Growth

Luke’s initial dream was to go to the imperial academy to become a star pilot. The imperial academy was the only real shot at higher education. When he bypassed that he jumped straight into a Rebel X-Wing. This test of character growth involved dealing with the loss first of his Aunt and Uncle, then his best friend Biggs Darklighter. He realized his dream of being a hero, but those he loved did not survive to see it.

Military Command

On joining the Rebellion, Luke successfully destroyed the Death Star and went on many missions to scout for new bases, protected (or at least escorted) Leia as she gained new allies, and formed Rogue Squadron, starting it out as Rogue Flight under Commander Narra’s reformed Red Squadron. When Narra and his Renegade Flight was destroyed Luke was promoted to Commander.  Rogue became the squadron name.  As an independent flight group, it was loosely tied to headquarters but available to back up other Rebel groups at need. Rogue Squadron became infamous for any time of mission but the attrition rate was high. When Luke, as Rogue Leader, was unavailable he left Wedge Antillies to run it. After the Battle of Endor Luke knew he would be too busy to handle the squadron and officially turned it over. Rogue Squadron remained loyal friends and allies to both him and the Jedi.

Luke’s first command of a battle group was at Bakura, where he found he far preferred his X-Wing to the command chair. Nonetheless Luke himself was eventually promoted to General.  This felt wrong to him, in spite of Jedi of the past having been General’s. He didn’t feel ready for the responsibility. Orders had him fly a battle group into what he sensed through the Force might be a trap. Doubting his own senses and unsure how to justify or avoid the confrontation he went ahead. The resulting massacre shook his confidence badly. He resigned his commission. While some after his leaving the military still referred to him as Commander, he preferred not to be referred to as General.

Dealing with his fury over the loss of his family to the Empire.

(including, he thought initially, his father.) He was tempted to get revenge over their continued torment of those he cared about. Forgiving his father, once he accepted who he was, was a feat beyond many people. But saving Anakin and inspiring him to kill the Emperor didn’t stop Luke’s destiny.

Restoring the Jedi Order

It was a new beginning. Luke now had an entire Jedi Order to recreate. His crash course was far shorter than Jedi of old who had studied a lifetime, and he could hardly start at one child at a time or there would be a bottleneck. After all, if anything happened to him and that student, there would be no one left! The Empire had done a thorough job destroying old records of the Jedi. But he had the Force to guide him. In the process he learned much of their strategies on how to run, to hide, a lesson he would put to good use later on.

At one point, confronted with a clone of the Emperor, Luke pretended to go over to the Dark Side in order to ferret out the secret of how to find out how this cloned emperor, or transferred essence was possible and prevent it. This did him harm, though there is no evidence he actually killed an innocent, the true initiation to the dark side. Leia helped him break free, as he had once helped Anakin.

Luke’s erratic instruction showed as he tried to train a generation of Jedi. He was torn between the need to protect them from the Dark Side and the mistakes that could destroy them, and the need to allow them to face it in order to grow. He was unprepared in finding himself confronted with the sith spirit Exar Kun that he wasn’t ready for, and students with weaknesses he didn’t know how to help them with. Nonetheless he persevered and overcame, as did they. In overcoming Exar Kun’s spirit, the first crop of Jedi essentially passed their true trial. They overcame the initial setbacks and soon the Jedi were flourishing. As the older students came into their full experience and powers and were able to help instruct, Luke converted the academy gradually for younger students, including his niece and nephews.

While his students became self sustaining at helping each other learn, when one would fall and wreak havoc he would be on the move to help stop them. This included the likes of Kueller, Brakiss and Desann.

A New Enemy

When the Yuuzhan Vong invaders attacked, Luke was confronted with a Republic that he had helped found turning on the Jedi out of fear. He also was forced to let his niece, nephews and the younger Jedi step into war. This led to some painful losses. In counterbalance to this, his son Ben was born.

SPOILERS.
Luke’s wife, Mara, was poisoned by the enemy. The disease could’ve killed her and her unborn child, but she fought back and they both survived. In addition to his friend Chewbacca, many of his students were killed by the enemy, but none hurt worse than losing Anakin. He felt his fall and his own guilt at giving the order (or allowing himself to be convinced to send the teenagers) was a heavy weight to bear. Jacen was captured, and only much later would he realize how badly the imprisonment and torture had opened him to the Dark Side. The former Jedi and current Yuuzhan Vong familiar Vergere’s influence would prove to be poisonous. Jaina also had a brush to the Dark Side, but unlike the others she went on to recover.

Not long after his greatest pain hit: the return of the Sith, in the form of Lumiya, an old enemy, who would be out to destroy his own family by turning someone close to him to the Dark Side and killing another.

SPOILERS.
His old foe, Lumiya, who had been trained as an Imperial agent and served as an Emperor’s Hand was able to lure Jacen to the Dark Side, declaring him a Lord of the Sith, Darth Caedus. In the process, he attempted to lure Luke’s son Ben, first by gradually nudging him to morally grey areas, then into assassination supposedly for the good of the Galactic Alliance. Ben began gradually to resist, when Jacen involved him in a plan that involved getting a man killed that had a young daughter. At this point Ben still did not feel he could go to Luke, who had been trying to get him to leave Jacen. Feeling guilty and confused, he did turn to his mother, Mara. She also was reluctant to tell Luke, so she challenged Jacen herself. Jacen killed her. For this reason, and because Jacen AKA Caedus captured and actually tortured his son, he didn’t feel he could face him without risking falling himself. Jaina ended up being the one to stop him.

Luke fought to find the right balance between serving the Republic/now Galactic Alliance and the Force. After their betrayal by the government, and seeing the corruption it overlooked (because politicians had vested interest in keeping it that way) he withdrew it from their oversight. The battle of the politicians led by Daala to force them to become an official branch of the government forced the issue. The Jedi sought to preserve and protect all, and they couldn’t remain neutral if controlled by people that wanted them used only as warriors or diplomats while ignoring the many who needed them that the government ignored. In addition, the Jedi discovered a Lost Tribe of the Sith and a dangerous threat called Abeloth that only they could defeat. Therefore they had to hold themselves at readiness for enemies the Galactic Alliance and politicians wanted to ignore because it was inconvenient to have such enemies appear.

Yet through it all, Luke never gave up. He focused on finding the positive in everyone and every situation, always there for his friends and family. He remained the determined but still compassionate man that Mara affectionately called ‘Farm Boy’.

crucible by troy denning

Luke, with Han and Leia in Crucible by Troy Denning, 45 ABY and there last story. He was about 64 at the time.

Stories starring Luke Skywalker

Early years

  • A New Hope the Life of Luke Skywalker (all eras)

Movie Years:

  • Star Wars Radio Drama by Brian Daley
  • The Empire Strikes Back Radio Drama by Brian Daley
  • Return of the Jedi Radio Drama by Brian Daley
    (Note these radio dramatization of the movies includes extra and extended scenes not available elsewhere.)
  • Shadows of the Empire
  • Luke Skywalker and the Treasure of the Dragonsnakes
  • Rebellion years
  • Galaxy of Fear Series – – by Whitman – Cameos only
  • Splinter of the Minds Eye ( written pre TESB and considered as a possible low budget script. the comic adaptation came out much later and was adapted to fit better into continuity.)
    Rebellion
  • Rebel Forces
  • Allegiance
  • Choices of One

New Republic

  • Heart of the Jedi
  • Truce at Bakura
  • Shadows of Mindor
  • Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton
  • Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn
    • Heir to the Empire
    • Dark Force Rising
    • The Last Command
  • Dark Empire
    • Dark Empire – Dark Horse Comics (full cast audio also available)
    • Dark Empire2- Dark Horse Comics (full cast audio also available)
    • Empire’s End – Dark Horse Comics (full cast audio also available, but only in the collector’s CD edition)
  • Jedi Academy Trilogy by Kevin J. Anderson
    • Jedi Search
    • Dark Apprentice
    • Champions of the Force
  • I, Jedi by Michael Stackpole
  • Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly
  • Darksaber by Kevin J. Anderson
  • Planet of Twilight by Barbara Hambly
  • The Crystal Star by Vonda McIntyre
  • Black Fleet Crisis by McDowell
  • The New Rebellion by Kristin Kathryn Rusch
  • The Corellian Trilogy by Roger Allen McBride
    • Ambush at Corellia
    • Assault at Selonia
    • Showdown at Centerpoint
  • Thrawn Duology by Timothy Zahn
  • Specter of the Past
  • Vision of the Future
  • New Jedi Order Era by Multiple authors
  • Dark Nest trilogy by Troy Denning
    • Joiner King
    • The Unseen Queen
    • Swarm War
  • Legacy of the Force Series by multiple authors
  • Fate of the Jedi series by multiple authors
  • Crucible by Troy Denning

Cameos:

  • Dark Forces: Jedi Knight 2
  • X-Wing, Rogue Squadron, Wedge’s Gamble by Michael Stackpole
  • Galaxy of Fear by John Witman:
  • Eaten Alive
  • Army of Terror
  • Chewbacca Tribute
  • Invasion – – Dark Horse Comics
  • Legacy

 

A New View of Star Wars A New Hope

Star Wars A New Hope PosterWatching the original movie back in the day we had no clue there would be more. An unexpected hero had big dreams but was afraid to leave the familiar old responsibilities for new ones. Then he was forced too. The hero had a chance to save the beautiful Princess and save a Rebellion fighting a powerful evil empire.

We knew the Empire was evil for 2 reasons: we instinctively associated choking a man to death, an intimidating ball droid with needle as a torture device and blowing up entire planets with evil. The fact that the bad guy was clad in black and the heroes in white no doubt had something to do with it too – a color scheme left over from the white knight vs the black knight and the cowboy with white had vs the evil doer in the black hat.

It cost Luke dearly to follow his dreams. He hadn’t even committed when his Aunt and Uncle were killed. Obi-Wan was killed protecting him for reasons we didn’t entirely understand at the time. Leia lost her entire home world trying to help stand up to evil.

Han? Han started on his first steps to being a hero by doing something that wasn’t likely to give him a reward – saving Luke.

Years later we now have the complete story.

That moment we see Vader on screen is leavened with sadness: this is Luke’s FATHER. Once he was a hero, not the stuff of nightmares. He has power, but he isn’t truly free. He and Obi-Wan finally meet again. Perhaps killing Obi-Wan is his act of revenge for being trapped in the horror suit, but Obi-Wan’s vanishing denies him this victory.

We now know that Han’s quest to pay off Jabba the Hutt and those bounty hunters doesn’t end well. Ultimately his friends have to save him. Staying with the Rebels cost him: it cost him time to pay off the debt (though we know he had the reward, he apparently kept losing it before he could pay off Jabba!) As for Chewie: its no wonder he’s become jaded toward Jedi and heroics. He watched the Republic fall and the Jedi along with it. Still, he’s Han’s conscience.

We know Leia is Luke’s sister. This is a reunion long in the making. Luke’s instinctive attraction to her apparently isn’t the crush everyone (including him) thinks. And the scene where Leia is tortured by Vader is suddenly more horrible. In spite of just the intimidating presence and implied injection, we now know the man facing her is her biological Father. And he not only tortures her and tries to break her, he also makes her stand and watch Tarkin blow up her adoptive world and family. Given her similarity in appearance to Padme (and similar role as Senator Diplomat) it’s all the more tragic.

Extras courtesy of the Expanded Universe:

Expanded Universe fans were thrilled to see Dash Rendar’s Outrider from Shadows of the Empire added in to the Mos Eisley scenes.

The destruction of Alderaan is even more painful. While we glimpsed it in Revenge of the Sith and met Bail Organa, many of us have now had the opportunity to experience it in Star Wars: The Old Republic. We’ve explored Organa Castle, wandered and met the noble houses, helped fight to save them for Republic or lead them into the Empire.

For an extra shock, if you play the Imperial side Planetary Story arc, you encounter a rebel faction trying to stop the Thul House and their Imperial Allies. During the Conversation, the leader makes the rather prophetic statement that he’d rather see Alderaan destroyed than part of the Empire.

In the radio drama as well as the comics, we get to know Biggs Darklighter. Even in the special edition, all we got was a bit of Biggs added back into the Yavin hanger scene. The radio drama and novelization give us Bigg’s earlier meeting with Luke, when he was going to join the Rebellion and why. Dark Horse comics gave us a view of how those events played out. Suddenly that sudden death over the First Death Star hurts a great deal more because we’ve gotten to know and like him.

In Tales of the Mos Eisley Cantina we get up close and personal with denizens of the Cantina, each with their own name, species and interesting story. This one is exiled because he was forced to collaborate with the Empire. That one has rebel ties.

The destruction of the Death Star is now a lot more complicated, if one read the novel ‘Death Star’. The space station didn’t just contain Imperial soldiers. It contained all the personnel needed to maintain them, including cooks, librarians, cantina and bar personnel and conscripted Doctors. Even the soldiers didn’t necessarily believe the Death Star would be used for anything but intimidation. The destruction of the Death Star was absolutely necessary: not everyone on Alderaan was a rebel! But it sadly came at a cost that at least some of the people on board were innocent, or at the very least, capable of wanting out.

Yavin 4. This is another one that has had enormous history. You run around this world in Star Wars the Old Republic, taking on the Shadow of Revan. It has a history thousands of years before in Tales of the Jedi, a history of Sith Temples, battles with Jedi and will one day be hope to the home to the new Jedi Academy. We only glimpse it in the movie, but now we’ve had a chance to peek around the corners that we can only imagine.

It’s been a long time since the first movie, a long time since the additional title ‘A New Hope’ was added. The more one knows about the story before and after the more one sees it differently. But it adds a glorious richness. In 40 years, there have been many discoveries. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Woman Behind the Scenes of the Expanded Universe

Rostoni

Sue Rostoni

Sue Rostoni

She maintained the Expanded Universe in print and helped plan the New Jedi Order series, as Executive Editor and fiction and comic editor at Lucas Licensing. She held that job for 20 some years, retiring in 2011.

Lucy Audrey Wilson

Director of Publishing the President of Lucas Licencing. She came up with the idea of the holocron, an internal database to keep track of the rapidly expanding universe, before it was all in large binders.

Honorable Mention:

Marcia Lucas

It’s not surprising that after a painful divorce, George Lucas doesn’t talk about his first wife. But as the editor, she did have a great deal to do with the original trilogy of movies. She was the one who suggested the idea to add more impact to the first movie, at the time just called Star Wars, by having Obi-Wan die, which Lucas had apparently only toyed with. Given that he obviously still needed to be around in some form or another, George Lucas had to find a way to kill him yet have him around. Enter, the Force Spirits, that have since been a regular occurrence in the Expanded Universe, from Anakin Skywalker trying to make peace with Leia in Truce of Bakura, to the Jedi Exile appearing in SWTOR as well as Sith Force Ghosts like Naga Sadow, Freedon Nadd & Exar Kun.