Dark Family Legacy: Forgiveness and Consequences

Spoilers ahead. Read at your own peril

  

Luke: “No, you’re coming with me. I’ll not leave you here, I’ve got to save you!”                           Anakin: “You already… have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister… you were right.” 

Hello again. Today I’d like to discuss a topic that resonates very strongly with me–redemption. In this case a very specific individual’s path back to the light: Anakin Skywalker. I’ve often heard it said that Vader’s redemption at the end of VI felt forced or cheap when you consider all of the atrocities he had committed as a Sith Lord. 

This is obviously a very controversial topic (can a villain ever truly atone for their sins?) without a clear answer. To start, I’d like to dive right into Anakin’s actions as Darth Vader. 

  
“You were selfish. You abandoned me! You failed me! Do you know… what I’ve become?”

-Vision of Anakin to Ahsoka

I won’t spend too much time discussing Anakin’s fall this time. His personal failures and the actions of the Council/manipulations of Palpatine are a topic all on their own. As I mentioned above, we’ll take a look at Vader’s more obvious crimes.

  

“I killed them. I killed them all. They’re dead, every single one of them. And not just the men, but the women and the children too.”

Let’s be clear here. It would be really hard to sympathize with any group that kidnapped and tortured your mother. I couldn’t even fault someone for wanting revenge against said individuals. However, what Anakin did to that village goes way beyond wanting justice. He wanted that Tusken clan to suffer and he murdered all of them in cold blood. One of his first clear steps toward darkness. 

His slaughter of the Jedi (including children) after his Sith christening was just another step on his path toward the dark side. Here, he believed he was bringing justice and peace to the galaxy. That said, after being slighted by the Jedi so many times (especially in TCW series), I really can’t blame him too much for his hatred of the Order. 

Even after his transformation into the sinister cyborg we all know and love, Vader was still racking up the kill count. His own minions were fair game for a killing if they displeased him enough. In Marvel’s Star Wars 2015- comic, Vader telekinetically used his own stormtroopers as human shields to fend off sniper fire. Later, he snapped the neck of a hapless underling who just happened to see his scarred face. 

While he did not directly command the moon-like superweapon to fire (that was Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin), Vader was still complicit in the Death Star’s destruction of Alderaan. (Two billion deaths is nothing to sneeze at.) 

Finally, we have the torture and scheduled execution of his (then-unknown) daughter and the maiming of his son in a lightsaber duel. 

We get the point now. Anakin turned into a very evil person. So much so that Obi-wan Kenobi (even after discovering Vader survived) considered Anakin to have been killed after their duel on Mustafar. With all of that wrongdoing, was it even possible to redeem someone that wicked? Luke and Anakin’s former padawan, Ahsoka, certainly believed it was. 

  

“I feel the conflict within you. Let go of your hate.” –Luke Skywalker                                                   

“There’s still a way.” –Ahsoka Tano

While I don’t know yet how Ahsoka will fare against her former master later this season (Rebels), we all know the story of Return of the Jedi. Luke’s love and compassion for his father ultimately led to a resurgence of Anakin’s old personality. He sacrificed himself to save his son and destroyed the Sith Rule of Two. A truly noble action. But is one act of nobility truly enough to redeem someone awash in the blood of so many innocents? 

This is where I need to explain the difference between redemption and atonement. Redemption, as defined by the dictionary is defined as: “the action of being saved from sin, error, or evil.”  What Anakin did for his son falls into redemptive territory by the sheer fact that it pulled him away from his dark and selfish tendencies. To give your life for someone is the ultimate sacrifice. For a Jedi, this is the ultimate expression of the light side of the Force (it also proved that the Jedi Order was wrong about healthy attachments like family.) 

So we’ve established that Anakin redeemed himself (at least where his son and the Force were concerned), but the real question is did he atone for his actions as Vader? Let’s delve further, shall we?

The definition of the word atonement is “reparation for a wrong.” So other than choosing his son over Sidious, did Anakin atone for anything else? I would have to say, no. Not by a long shot. For that to happen, Anakin would have had to make reparations to every single individual he had wronged (most were dead already and they numbered in the billions if planetary annihilation is taken into account.) 

True, he ascended into a Force spirit alongside his old mentors, but I’m inclined to think that even as a ghost, Anakin would still have to live with the knowledge of all the atrocities he had committed. It’s probably for the better that Sidious fried Anakin’s life-support systems and he died. Otherwise, I’d imagine there’d have been a trial and execution for war crimes. Redemption equals death indeed. 

Interestingly (as seen below,) unused concept art for Anakin’s spirit in The Force Awakens depicted his spectral form as shifting between his human and Vader forms–perhaps hinting at some kind of punishment or dark, unforgotten legacy. Non-canon, but still food for thought. 

   

Speaking of dark legacy, Anakin’s actions would continue to haunt the Skywalker clan for decades after his death. That leads us to…

  
“Show me again the power of the darkness. Show me, grandfather, and I will finish what you started.”

–Kylo Ren 

Kylo Ren, born Ben Solo, was seduced by the dark side and his grandfather’s legacy as Darth Vader. He went on to murder Luke’s fledgling new Jedi Order (sound familiar?). I can only imagine Anakin’s anguish as he watched his grandson make the same mistakes he did. 

One hope spot for Anakin here. If Rey is indeed a Skywalker, seeing the family lightsaber pass to someone as incredible as her would be heartwarming to witness. (Assuming Force spirits never move on like they did in the old EU.)

  
Vader’s legacy impacted one more individual– his daughter. Since we don’t have much material to work with between RotJ and TFA, I can’t say whether or not Leia ever forgave her father like she eventually did in Legends. There’s only one comment in the new film where it’s mentioned that Han and Leia’s son has “too much Vader in him.” It’s brief, but telling. Leia is far less of an idealist than her brother and it’s likely that she either never forgave or forgot what her father did in the name of the Empire. Not fully, anyway. 

As pictured above, a new novel by Claudia Gray (yessssss! I adored Lost Stars) called Bloodline will shed light on her time in the New Republic Senate and the shadow Vader has cast over her family name. I cannot wait to read it. 

That’s it for today. I’ll probably cover more of Anakin’s fall to the dark side in another post. 

Thanks for reading!

Year Three (Part Two)

Spoilers, natch

 

Hello again!

As I mentioned last week, I felt that my post was getting a bit long-winded. I made the decision to cut this topic in half and save the second part for today. Don’t want my readers getting overwhelmed, right?

In the previous session, I discussed the aspects of the new canon (established April 2014) that I liked best. Today, I’d like to discuss brand new characters that have caught my fancy.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the list.


Rae Sloane 

Appearances: A New Dawn (first appearance), Aftermath, various Insider short stories


“I’m Admiral Rae Sloane. You are under arrest for conspiring against the Galactic Empire, long may it reign.”

I never liked the idea that the Empire didn’t employ women in its ranks. I know the Legends EU solidified this fact by stating the Empire was misogynistic as well as xenophobic, but honestly it struck me as being more along the lines “for the evulz” than anything else. When a woman did appear in the old Legends Empire, it was probably because she slept her way up to that position—as was the case with the erratically-written character Natasi Daala.

Thankfully, the reboot has done us all a favor by introducing female stormtroopers and Imperial officers. Sure, the racism and genocide against non-humans is still there (yay?), but it’s nice to see a bit of diversity with our antagonists.

Anyway, on to the character herself. Sloane was first introduced in A New Dawn as the temporary captain of the Star Destroyer Ultimatum. Her mission was to escort Count Denetrius Vidian to the planet Gorse for his thorilide mining assignment. Captain Sloane made enough of an impression to be put in permanent command of the vessel by the end of the story. Come The Battle of  Endor, she’d been promoted to the rank of Admiral and commanded the Star Destroyer Vigilance. Finally, in Aftermath, she was one of the individuals in the secret Imperial meeting on Akiva following the Empire’s defeat at Endor. Here, she was revealed to be in league with a mysterious Fleet Admiral in the Unknown Regions (probably signifying the beginning of the First Order).

Why I like her:

In a sea of cliché, mustache-twirling male Moffs and Imperial officers, Rae stands out because of her personality and code of honor. She serves a Sith-created, corrupt regime, but that doesn’t automatically make her an evil person.

While Sloane is very much a professional, no-nonsense individual, she is shown to care for the officers under her command. However, she doesn’t let her feelings get in the way of her service. Even if she is occasionally horrified by the unsavory acts her compatriots  commit, her duty to the Empire always comes first.

Kanan Jarrus (Caleb Dume) 

Appearances: A New Dawn (first appearance), Star Wars Rebels, Kanan: The Last Padawan (comic)

 

“… It’s true. I’m not sure of my decision to train Ezra. Not because of him or his abilities… because of me, because of who I am.”

During the last days of the Republic, Caleb Dume was just your average Jedi youngster pining for a Master to choose them as their padawan. Eventually he was paired with the enigmatic, coma-awakened Depa Billaba (they made a Force connection while she was in her bacta tank.)

Everything was going great for our young padawan. He had a Master to teach him, he finally got to fight in the Clone Wars like he wanted, and he had a little-brother-style friendship going on with the clones in his unit. What could possibly go wrong?

Well… those nasty clone brain chips activated at the worst possible moment (thanks, Sheev.) Billaba gave her life defending Caleb from their clone unit and he was forced to learn how to survive on his own as a 14-year-old fugitive bereft of the Order he grew up in.

Taking the name Kanan Jarrus to hide his Jedi past, he took on many unsavory jobs in an effort to keep himself out of the eyes of the Empire. Little did he know, a chance meeting with a certain twi’lek pilot named Hera would change his life forever.

Why I like him:

I’ll be honest; when I was first introduced to Kanan in A New Dawn, I thought he was kind of a jerk. He was constantly punching people who annoyed him and he only seemed to care about getting paid. However, having been introduced to his backstory in the comics, I now see why he was the way he was in the novel. Watching your beloved parental figure get gunned down in front of you will leave some nasty psychological scars.

Since Kanan has embraced his Jedi heritage once again and aligned himself with a rebel cell, he’s certainly begun to show his more caring side. Despite his feelings of inadequacy while training Ezra, he is very much Team Dad to Hera’s Team Mom — the glue that keeps the Ghost crew together. Freddie Prinze Jr has done a great job voicing him in Rebels and Kanan’s snarky humor is a welcome addition to the show.

Oh, bonus points for looking like a samurai.
Ezra Bridger
Appearances: Ezra’s Gamble (first appearance), Star Wars Rebels, various YA novels.

 

 “I was just doing the same thing you were, stealing to survive.”

A young orphan on the Outer Rim world Lothal, Ezra perhaps shares a few parallels with another Disney street rat. Ezra is initially depicted as a young thief who steals from the Empire to ensure his own survival. Kanan takes note of Ezra’s uncanny agility and informs the boy of his latent Force-sensitivity.

Why I like him:

When Ezra was first announced, his character and design got a lot of flak from the fandom. His blue hair, his energy slingshot, and the soreness over the cancellation of The Clone Wars TV show made for a bad combination. There was also the possibility that this “Aladdin-clone” would be a bratty kid and ruin any chance of the show being serious when it needed to be.

Thankfully, like a real person, Ezra has continued to mature. Ezra has gone from a self-centered survivor to a vital member of the Ghost crew. He is compassionate and brave, but he is not without his flaws. Like any teenager, he is often stubborn and takes unnecessary risks (much to Kanan’s chagrin.)

Intriguingly, it’s been hinted that Ezra’s Force potential may be eclipsing Kanan’s. He had his first brush with the dark side in season 1 and the new trailer hints at further danger for the character. Very excited to see what happens!

Doctor Aphra

Appearances: Star Wars: Darth Vader (comic)


“Thank you, Mr. Lord Vader. Sir? Your majesty? Your illustriousness? Honestly, no idea. I’m a rogue archaeologist, not a protocol droid.”

Archaeologist and droid expert Doctor Aphra is one of Vader’s personal agents during the Galactic Civil War. One of the Marvel comics’ more quirky characters, she quickly proved herself to be one of the Sith Lord’s most useful and loyal assets.

Why I like her:

Remember I said she was quirky? I don’t think that even begins to describe her. Aphra is a perky, upbeat woman who idolizes Vader and likes to reactive homicidal droids. She’s well aware of the fact that Vader will put her down when he has no further use for her (“If I get a choice, the lightsaber right through the neck.”) but she does her job anyway.

Oh and props for owning Triple-zero, the most polite and sadistic protocol droid to ever exist.

“I’m 0-0-0 or Triple-Zero, if you prefer. I’m a protocol droid, specialized in etiquette, customs, translation and torture, ma’am.”

 


Ciena Ree/Thane Kyrell

Appearances: Lost Stars

 

(Note: these are not the official character portraits. However, author Claudia Gray mentioned she had Gugu Mbatha-raw and Sam Reid in mind when she wrote them.)

Thane and Ciena were two kids that hailed from the Outer Rim world Jelucan. Thane was from an upper-class family and Ciena came from more homely origins. Their world was never of any significance to galactic events during the Republic until the fateful day the Empire came.

Long story short, the two youngsters enroll as imperial cadets and experience the Imperial military firsthand. Of course, knowing how corrupt the Empire is, these experiences change the two dramatically.

Ciena stays out of a strong sense of honor and Thane defects to the Alliance to Restore the Republic (Rebellion). Problem is, they’re both still very much in love with each other and on opposite sides of the war.

Why I liked them:

Because of its YA label, I wouldn’t blame someone for assuming Lost Stars is Twilight in a galaxy far, far away. It is very much not. Thane and Ciena are believable characters with a lot to like.

I think my favorite part of the novel was seeing how the two justify or condemn the actions of the Empire they served. Alderaan is an especially polarizing point for the two.

I won’t spoil the events of the novel because it really is a lot of fun. Check this one out! Oh, and fun tidbit: the derelict Star Destroyer (the Inflictor) on Jakku in TFA belonged to Ciena at one point.
That’s it for today. Turns out I still went on a bit longer than I thought I would. Wanted to mention a few extra characters I liked, but I’ll give them honorable mention below instead.
Hera and Sabine (Rebels), Mister Bones (Aftermath), Evaan Verlaine (Princess Leia)

Year Three (Part One)

Warning: possible spoilers

“And this is just the beginning of a creatively aligned program of Star Wars storytelling created by the collaboration of incredibly talented people united by their love of that galaxy far, far away…”

– April 2014 announcement, StarWars.com

(Big thank you to Comics Alliance for that canon timeline.)

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope all is well. I apologize for the scarcity of my posts. Life gets busy and sometimes I *gasp* run out of Star Wars topics to write about.

Today, I’d like to share my thoughts on the new canon since we’re almost three years in. I’ll touch on the parts I like best. Since this topic will be broad and because my older posts tended to go on and on without reprieve, I’ll split this post in twain and cover the second half another day.

Cohesion 

As much as I adored the Legends stories I read as a kid/young adult and as much as I respected Leland Chee for keeping the old continuity in order as much as he did,  there is no denying that certain authors may have taken a bit too much liberty with their stories.

For example, Karen Traviss randomly gave mandalorians a godlike superiority over Jedi and Sith. Additionally, she killed off Mara Jade (in a very anticlimactic manner) without informing Zahn which never sat well with me. We also had some early installment weirdness like the interdimensional creature Waru or Jedi being able to pass their spirits into computers. Yeah…

As I said in my earlier Legends post, I’ve seen people say the new canon plays it too much on the safe side. That’s a fair criticism, I suppose. I see it more as a boon, though. I think that the Lucasfilm Story Group exercising more creative control will be beneficial for the universe in terms of consistency.

Will there be occasional continuity errors in the new canon? Of course. The SG and authors are only human. But hopefully we won’t get into a situations like Legends where the first Death Star plans are stolen by a number of different characters in different stories  by different authors. (That plot point will be addressed in current canon by Rogue One later this year.)

Interestingly, I feel that the “safe” approach has also added a bit of mysticism back to the Force. Many of the new stories do not focus on the original power trio and instead put normal, non-Force-sensitive people into the spotlight. So, when Luke, Jedi lore, or the Force do appear, they’re much more special occurrences. This is a stark contrast to Legends stories starting with NJO where Jedi and Force powers were found on nearly every page.

The reboot also had the added benefit of eliminating the convoluted canon tier system (G,T,C,S,N). Everything released now is just as gospel as the films according to Lucasfilm.

Rebels 

 

“Stand up together, because that’s when we’re strongest. As one.” 

Ezra Bridger

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Clone Wars fan. When it was first announced that TCW was being cancelled and a new animated series was taking its place, I was a little skeptical that it could match its predecessor. I was wrong.

Despite Rebels having a smaller budget, it still has Dave Filoni at the helm and it is a true spiritual successor to The Clone Wars. The art style may seem simplistic, but it’s inspired by the designs of the legendary artist Ralph McQuarrie. While the show is aimed at a general audience, it is not afraid to delve into darker territory when it needs to. It also has a habit of recanonizing Legends content which is awesome.

Interdictor ships say hello.


All your hyperspace are belong to us.

Marvel

 

Marvel (now a property of Disney) used to publish comics for Star Wars way back in the 70’s. When they reacquired the license from Dark Horse to begin publishing Star Wars comics, there was some, shall we say, unhappiness within the fandom. DH had been publishing comics for the franchise since the early 90s and as with all changes, some people are bound to be upset.

That being said Marvel has (imho) been absolutely slaying it. Since January 2015, they’ve started eight different comic series (most of them limited runs, some ongoing) with more on the way.

Now, I can’t say that every single issue released has been stellar. However, the artwork and writing have been almost consistently top-notch, unlike many of the Legends DH comics which varied wildly in quality. These Marvel comics feel like genuine Star Wars stories and it’s clear that they understand how special this universe is.

The Star Wars 2015 and Darth Vader comics in particular are notable for finally giving us this piece of information.


That’s right, they were allowed to depict the moment where Vader discovers he has a son. The following flashback scenes are especially awesome but I won’t spoil them for you.

My personal favorites are Shattered Empire, Obi-wan and Anakin, Lando, Darth Vader, and Star Wars 2015-. These stories have been an absolute joy to read and I’m excited to see what 2016 brings for the GFFA.


Novels

 

Unlike the comic universe which changed publishers, Del Rey continues to publish Star Wars novels like it did with the old EU. However, DR is joined by Disney-Lucasfilm Press which also publishes books like Lost Stars. 

So far, I’ve enjoyed the new books. While they haven’t been quite as fun as the TV series or the comics, the majority of them have been entertaining enough (remember what I said about playing it safe?) Fortunately, even the weakest novels in the new canon like Heir to the Jedi are nowhere near as miserable as, say, Crucible. (I’m sorry. I know I pick on that one a lot, but it was just so bad.)

My favorite book so far is the aforementioned Lost Stars, which might seem odd considering it’s classified as YA romance. Don’t let that fool you. Claudia Gray is an excellent writer and her first entry into the SW universe is absolutely worth reading.

Coming in second is the ever-controversial Aftermath by Chuck Wendig. Even if you’re initially put off by the writing style (third person, present tense), I urge you to give it a fair chance. I particularly enjoyed the references to TCW and Rebels. 

Dark Disciple takes its place as my third favorite novel. Adapted from several unfinished Clone Wars episodes, Christie Golden managed to make me feel like I was actually watching the show itself. Plus, it stars Asajj Ventress who became one of my favorite characters throughout the show’s run.

A New Dawn is another favorite of mine. Not only is its name fitting (first books in the new continuity), it offers a look at Kanan and Hera’s early years. It’s a good starting point for the Rebels series.

I’ve also heard that Twilight Company is good and it’s been sitting on my shelf since Christmas, but I haven’t had time to start it. I’ll let you know what I think when I get to reading it.

Finally, the reference books such as Ultimate Star Wars and TFA: Visual Guide are still as top-notch as they’ve ever been. A lot of Legends stuff gets recanonized there.



That’s it for today. I apologize if this entry was a little more vague and unfocused than usual. In part two, I’ll focus on the characters in the new canon that have really resonated with me.

There’s always a bit of truth in legends.” –Ahsoka Tano


The Power of Legends

Warning: Major spoilers for several Legends stories ahead.  
“… there’s nothing inherently demeaning in the term Legends.”  – Timothy Zahn

Ask most people what they think Star Wars is and they’ll likely respond with something along the lines of “movie franchise.” This statement is absolutely true and for most fans, the films will be the only stories they need to concern themselves with. Star Wars is, first and foremost, a set of films. That will never change.

However, for a kid like me who needed to absorb absolutely every little detail, the Expanded Universe was there to fill in the gaps. For those interested in exploring it, I have to warn you, the old EU is huge. There are literally hundreds of stories spanning multiple media formats (games, comics, books, etc.) Even though Lucasfilm declared the pre-2014 Expanded Universe non-canon, I still think it’s worth a look back on what made it so special.

The Beginning

“After Star Wars was released, it became apparent that my story—however many films it took to tell—was only one of thousands that could be told about the characters who inhabit its galaxy. But these were not stories that I was destined to tell. Instead, they would spring from the imagination of other writers, inspired by the glimpse of a galaxy that Star Wars provided.” –George Lucas


It could be argued that the old EU began with the novel pictured above. Splinter came out in 1978 before Empire was even conceived. As such, it is a bizarre read filled with Luke/Leia sexual tension (ick) and other oddities like Obi-wan possessing/controlling Luke during a duel with Vader. However, Foster had very little content to work with so I do not fault him for it.


Marvel Comics also had a hand in establishing the early expanded universe. Like Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, the authors of this series had little to work with, but they still managed to create enjoyable stories.

Resurgence 

 

Contrary to what many movie-goers might assume, The Force Awakens is not the first story to explore what happened after Return of the Jedi. The Clone Wars era might have been off-limits to authors, but Lucas permitted the EU to continue the adventures of Han, Luke, and Leia after Episode VI. 

In the early 90’s, interest in Star Wars was not quite what it was in previous decades. Thankfully, three books were released that renewed interest in the franchise once again. These novels are Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command. Collectively, these stories are known as the Thrawn Trilogy. 

Many consider these books to be the absolute best stories in the old EU and I can see why. These books feel like an official continuation of the saga and many fans considered them the unofficial VII, VIII, and IX of the series. It’s rumored that the fan interest in these books inspired Lucas to continue the film franchise. In fact, Coruscant (capital planet) got its name from Timothy Zahn so it’s clear that Lucas got some inspiration from this trilogy.

The EU only continued to build from there. In addition to the numerous stories after Jedi, there were plenty of other time periods to be explored. The prequels spawned countless games, books, and comics. We also had stories set thousands of years before the films – documenting the origins of the Republic, Jedi, and Sith.

Of course, no one could predict the figurative “Death Star” lurking in the shadows. This leads us to our next point.

Reset Button

 

When Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise in 2012 and announced there would be a new set of  films set after Episode VI, many EU fans (including myself) wondered what the fate of our beloved stories would be. Would Disney adapt a book series like the Thrawn Trilogy? Would these films be new stories but still respect the stories that had come before?

We wouldn’t find out until April 2014 when it was announced that all old Expanded Universe content (sans the television show The Clone Wars) would be relabeled Legends – a.k.a non-canon.

I’m not going to lie, this announcement felt like a punch in the gut. The Expanded Universe was just as much Star Wars to me as the films were. The loss of beloved characters and stories was saddening and difficult for me to process. That being said, I came to terms with it quickly and I’ll explain why.

1. There was absolutely no way Lucasfilm could have created an original story in that cluttered timeline. Additionally, adapting an existing book would have been boring and expecting film-goers to follow story details from dozens of novels would have been unrealistic. A blank slate was the best approach.

2. The EU was always third-tier “C” canon (two steps below “G” film canon) that could be overridden by the films or tv shows. The Clone Wars rewrote EU details all the time. The Legends reset had the silver lining of eliminating the concept of canon tiers. All content post-April 2014 is considered as official as the films by Lucasfilm.

3. I kept trying to justify my continued reading of the old EU, but in truth I had long grown disillusioned with it. I felt that the post-ROTJ EU had lost its way. Too many authors with very little supervision led to a very messy universe with inconsistent quality.

4. This book:

I know, I know. It seems a bit ridiculous to say that one novel among hundreds could kill my interest in seeing more Legends stories, but this book left such a bad taste in my mouth (it was billed as the last big adventure for the elderly power trio). It was the culmination of all of the worst the EU embodied and it’s not how I wanted the Legends universe to end.

5. We’re getting official film continuations of the Star Wars Trilogy. No, seriously. New. Films. My inner child can’t wait for December. That made coping so much easier.

Anyway, the point of this blog entry wasn’t to rag on the old EU’s failings, so the reasons above are all I’ll say about what disappointed me.

I know this post is getting rather lengthy, so I’ll keep the next segment brief. I’d like to cover the concepts and characters I really liked in the old EU.

Mara Jade (Skywalker) 

 

Anyone even remotely familiar with the Expanded Universe knows about Mara. She’s easily one of the most popular characters. This fiery redhead debuted in aforementioned Thrawn Trilogy. 

Mara was the Emperor’s Hand, an elite assassin usually reserved for high-profile targets that Palpatine wanted dead. She was trained in the Force and deadly with her lightsaber, blaster, or really any weapon she got her hands on.

When Palpatine was betrayed by Vader, he mentally commanded her to eliminate Luke Skywalker. Although she tried to kill him several times, their relationship eventually turned friendly, then romantic. Luke and Mara had a happy marriage that resulted in a son, Ben Skywalker.

Grand Admiral Thrawn (Mitth’raw’nuruodo)

 

Like Mara, Thrawn was introduced in Zahn’s trilogy (named after the character, of course.) A member of the enigmatic Chiss species, Thrawn impressed Darth Sidious enough to be permitted to rise through the ranks of the xenophobic, human-centric Imperial Military.

Although the idea seems a little silly now, Thrawn was brilliant enough to be able to deduce a species’ military weaknesses by studying their art. Thrawn gave the fledgling New Republic a run for their money when he reappeared to command the Imperial Remnant.

Unlike Vader or Palpatine, Thrawn would not execute an underling for failure if they demonstrated true creative thinking and learned from their mistakes. Because of this, the morale in his fleet was very strong.

In the end, this fearsome mastermind only lost because he was stabbed by his bodyguard, Rukh.

The Old Republic Era

 

One of my absolute favorite eras in the EU, the Old Republic timeline occurred thousands of years before the films. While the Tales of the Jedi comics were the earliest ventures into this time period, it didn’t gain true widespread recognition until the much-beloved Knights of the Old Republic game released.

This era is famous for its vast Sith Empires, armored Jedi Knights, ancient Force mysteries, and precursor races like the Rakata. It also introduced characters like Exar Kun, Nomi Sunrider, Revan, Malak, Bastila Shan, and countless other legendary figures.

Jedi Apprentice Books

 

Published by Scholastic, these youth-oriented novels have given me some of my fondest Star Wars memories. These books explored the budding relationship between a very young Obi-Wan Kenobi and his new master Qui-Gon Jinn.

Despite being targeted at kids, these stories dealt with some very adult topics like loss of identity, war’s effects on children, and the death of loved ones. Of all the Legends stories concerning Kenobi and Jinn, I would love to see at least some of the details in these books recanonized.

Bizarre and Unique Force Abilities

This is a very huge topic, so I won’t go crazy. The old EU had a lot of cool light and dark Force powers that we never saw in the films. One of my favorites was tutaminis – the ability to absorb energy (including lightsaber blades) with a bare hand.


Going Forward
“More important, the old concept of what is canon and what isn’t is gone, and from this point forward our stories and characters all exist in the same universe.” –Dave Filoni

The decision to declare all of Legends non-canon ruffled a lot of feathers. Many fans were upset that the stories they’d grown up with were no longer being continued. (It also spawned a lot of Fan Dumb, but I’d really rather not go into that).

I’ve really enjoyed the new canon so far. I’ve seen a lot of Legends fans accuse these new novels of “playing it safe” and that’s a fair assessment. But I think that’s also a good thing. We’ve seen what happens when you let multiple authors go off on their own within an established universe. So far the Story Group has done a good job of keeping things fairly consistent.

It’s important to note that Lucasfilm stated Legends material would remain a resource for authors and directors to draw from. We’ve already seen character names, species, technology, and entire planets make their way into the new canon. It’s thrilling for me because I recognize these elements immediately.

So there it is. We’ve got a clean slate and a new film this December and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s important to remember what Zahn said. A good Star Wars story is a good Star Wars story regardless of canonicity. Lucasfilm didn’t come to our homes and burn our copies of old Legends stories. They’ll remain as long as we continue to remember and admire them.

Thanks for reading!


“But… It was so artistically done.”