Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Top Ten Star Wars Characters Created In Comics

I've always loved Star Wars. While I don't remember it, apparently the first movie my parents brought me to when I was little was Return of the Jedi. I keep up with the Galaxy Far, Far Away through pretty much any media I can: movies, TV, books, video games, and of course comics. And frankly, I feel the comics are probably the most consistent in quality of any media of Star Wars, telling some excellent stories. One of my friends and customers at Dewey's, who is also a reader here mentioned that he'd like to see a top ten Star Wars comic characters post, and let it never be said I don't aim to please my audience. So here they are, my ten favorite characters created for Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) comics. One important caveat: while I have read pretty much all the Dark Horse Star Wars comics, I haven't read a lot of the classic Marvel ones. I have them now, and plan to start reading from the beginning at some point, so there might be an update to this post when I have, or a "Top Ten Marvel Star Wars Characters" post then.

10. Demagol

If there's one thing I found that Star Wars is lacking is mad scientists. Sure, we've met the people who built the Death Star, but they're pretty minor figures, and there were a few Yuzzhan Vong Shapers during the New Jedi Order, but none of them really grabbed me. But Demagol, the Mandalorian scientist from the Knights of the Old Republic comics was a really creepy character. Obsessed with the biological source of the Force, Demagol experimented on Jedi. A character who appeared early in the series and seemed to not appear again turned out to be a major player when it was revealed he had been hiding in plain sight all along with the series heroes. I recommend Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: Demon

9. Kir Kanos

Kir Kanos, the star of the Crimson Empire trilogy, was the last of Palpatine's Imperial Guards. You kno the ones; the guys in the red armor walking around with the Emperor, who look badass and never do anything in the movies. Well, Kir Kanos doesn't just look badass: he is. Kanos proves himself a deadly fighter, and an honorable warrior. He's the first of three characters on this list who fall under one of my favorite EU character types: The Noble Imperial. These are men and women who fight for the Empire not because they're deranged Sith or petty despots, but because they think the Empire is the right way to govern the galaxy. Kanos fought with the last measure of devotion to preserve what he thought was right, and in the end walks away into an uncertain galaxy with his honor still intact. I recommend the upcoming Star Wars: The Crimson Empire Saga.

8. Vilmarh Grahrk

One of my favorite parts of the Star Wars universe is that not every character is a soldier, Jedi, or Sith. Some of the best characters are on the fringe, characters like Han Solo, who are just trying to keep their heads down and make a buck. Vilmarh Grahrk, or Villie for short, is that kind of character, only missing most of Han's redeeming characteristics. He's a sleazy mercenary who will do anything for a buck, and is always playing every side against the middle for his own benefit. There's no cause that will make Villie into a "good guy" but he does prove in the end to be a decent friend. Villie is also a very funny character, and never more so than in the story the above cover is drawn from, "The Devaronian Version", where we hear about the adventures Villie has had with Jedi Quinlan Vos from Villie's point of view. I recommend "The Deavronian Version"collected in Star Wars Omibus: Quinlan Vos: Jedi in Darkness.

7. Janek "Tank" Sunber

This one is a little bit of a cheat, since the character is mentioned once in the movies. Janek Sunber is the second Imperial character showing up on this list. He first appears in a story where he shows uncommon valor and is rewarded for it with pretty much nothing. The next time we see him, he bumps into Luke Skywalker, and it turns out he is the "Tank" Luke mentions as one of his friends who went off to the Imperial Academy. When Sunber finds out Luke is the Rebel who destroyed the Death Star and is public enemy number one, he begins to suffer a crisis of conscience. He has a hard time reconciling why a good man like Luke would be part of the Rebellion. The fact that he is someone who really believes in the good of the Empire, and struggles with what is right or wrong, is what makes him such a fascinating, multi-faceted character. I recommend "To the Last Man" collected in Star Wars: Empire: The Imperial Perspective.

6. Zayne Carrick

Most Jedi in any era are portrayed as powerful and, if not infallible, at least wise. Padawan Zayne Carrick, the lead in the Knights of the Old Republic series, isn't really either. Zayne spends most of the series on the run, travelling with a group of rogues, and desperately trying to not screw things up worse. But at his heart, Zayne is a good guy, and someone who is always looking out for the downtrodden. That is what makes Zayne such a great character: he never loses his humanity to his higher Jedi aspirations. I try to keep things here spolier light, since I'm hoping to encourage people to read the comics, so I won't say much more about Zayne, since part of the thrill of his series is watching mysteries around him unspool. But needless to say, it's a fun ride. I recommend Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: Commencement.

5. K'Kruhk

K'Kruhk was a long lived Jedi, first appearing during the Clone Wars era as a disaffected Jedi with doubts, and surviving all the way to being Council Master in Legacy. He is a mighty warrior, a Jedi who commits himself fully to the Jedi cause when he makes his peace. He also is one of the few comic Jedi to make it into other media, having appeared in the awesome Clone Wars animated micro series. K'Kruhk also has an excellent visual, with his hulking frame and tusks belying the caring spirit inside. And check out that hat! He had that hat for a couple hundred years. He deserves a spot on this list just for finding a fashion statement that works and sticking with it. I recommend Star Wars: Dark Times: Parallels

4. Cade Skywalker

Cade Skywalker is the descendant of Luke Skywalker, and the main character of what is probably my favorite Star Wars comic series ever, Legacy, set over a century after the classic trilogy. As opposed to his famous ancestor, who ran head first towards his destiny, Cade did his best to hide from his. Writer John Ostrander made a comment that he wanted to create a character who was, basically, Han Solo with a lightsaber, and that's what Cade is. He's a bounty hunter who wants nothing to do with being a Jedi in a galaxy where Jedi are once again hunted. But the Force keeps calling him, and watching Cade evolve over the course of Legacy's run is to watch a young man finally choose his own path, his own destiny, and in the end live up to the name Skywalker. I recommend Star Wars: Legacy: Broken.

3. Baron Soontir Fel

Starfighters are cool, and the men and women who pilot them are some of the coolest out there. Baron Fel was introduced as the opposite number of Wedge Antilles: the best pilot the Empire had who couldn't use the Force. But after his 181st TIE Fighter Wing went up against Antilles's Rogue Squadron, Fel made the shocking decision to defect. Fel had grown tired of the Empire, and had seen it's wrongs, especially after the death of Palpatine, and he was willing to help the Republic under the condition they helped him find his wife, the holostar Wynssa Starflare, who was in actuality Syal Antilles, Wedge's sister! Fel became a Rogue, and maintained his sense of dignity and his expert flying until he disappeared at the end of the Rogue Squadron series. Fel would eventually reappear in the novels, and become the ancestor of the new line of Emperor's in Legacy. But Fel was above all else a pilot, and few have ever flown who were better than him. "The Making of Baron Fel" collected in Star Wars Omnibus: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Vol.3

2. Quinlan Vos

Quinlan Vos's visual was based off of a background character in The Phantom Menace, but he became the main character in John Ostrander's extended run of the Star Wars ongoing that became Star Wars: Republic. Vos is an odd case, a Grey Jedi for want of a better term, always hanging right on the edge of the light side, slipping ever closer to the dark. Vos's arc involves him spending much of the Clone Wars undercover as one of Count Dooku's agents, and his loyalties are called into question by both his fellow Jedi and the reader often. That existence right on the edge of things makes Quin's journey an interesting one to follow. He also has a distinct look and an ability that sets him apart from other Jedi: he is a psychometric, who can tell the history of an object at a touch; these little distinctions help him stand out during an era with many Jedi. Quin was brought to "life" in a third season episode of the Clone Wars animated series. I recommend Star Wars Omibus: Quinlan Vos: Jedi in Darkness.


1. Darth Krayt

Darth Krayt is the Sith Lord who ruled the galaxy at the beginning of the Legacy series, and is a fascinating example of what a writer with longterm vision can do with a character. Krayt was introduced as A'Shard Hett, a padawan before the Clone Wars. Writer John Ostrander (yes, that name again) took over writing him during the Clone Wars, and there, the audience saw Hett as an honorable young man. He stood with the Jedi throughout the war, and had a memorable meeting with Anakin Skywalker. In that meeting, the first seeds of Darth Krayt are planted, a few years before Legacy was released. After survivng Order 66,he disappeared, and that seemed to be the end of A'Sharad Hett. Enter Darth Krayt in the first issue of Legacy. Krayt was a powerful Sith, and one who seemed to have a plan. He was not a cackling villain like Palpatine, but a colder, slower evil. Throughout the early part of the series, reader's theorized who Krayt was, and when it was revealed that he was Hett, Ostrander went on to tell the tale of Hett's fall. It's not like it's the only story of a Jedi who falls to the Dark Side in the canon, but it is a fascinating one. Hett suffers, and from his suffering is forged Darth Krayt. He is a master gamesman, on par with the late, lamented Palpatine, and his order of Sith are excellent villains. Add in the stunning visual of his armor, and you have my favorite character from the Star Wars EU comics. I recommend Star Wars: Legacy: Claws of the Dragon.


brandon said...

I'm going to make this easy and split up the groupings. That way I can include more characters too - ha!

Dark Horse:

Honorable Mention:

Tholme – The original dark Jedi. This guy lived in the shadows and could have easily been the Jedi’s version of Palpatine the way he manipulated the Council. I wasn’t crazy about this love story angle.

K’Kruhk – An awesome character that spread across hundreds of years. The only fault here is how easily he was beaten in his early appearances. When I re-read them I cringe at how he was cast aside.

Nat Skywalker aka Uncle Bantha Rawk – a great look at an old, run down Skywalker.

Das Jennir – A Jedi that isn’t really that connected to the Force, but wants to fight the fight any way he can. He has no problem killing or making very difficult decisions during the Dark Times.

Top 10:

10) Haazen – one of the chief villains from KOTOR. This is how I envisioned Anakin turning to the dark side prior to the prequels. He is a great (and ugly!) character.

9) Gryph – Zayne’s sidekick. He made the KOTOR series such a joy to read. His near-absence from the recent mini-series really highlighted how important the character was to making Zayne an interesting character.

8) Celeste Morne – from the Vector storyline. She was a terrific character because she was a Jedi agent working for the wrong group of Jedi. Plus she battles a lot of classic bad guys through her journey.

7) Villie – You never knew what this guy was going to do and he was funny as hell.

6) Darth Wyyrlok – the one sith that I felt had his own voice and agenda under Krayt. The legacy nature of his character’s bloodline also intrigued me.

5) Ventress – A terrific villain during a time when Dooku had a cache of characters carrying red lightsabers. She stood out because of her grudge with Kenobi and Skywalker. She has had a great second life on the TV show.

4) Quinlan Vos – His flip-flop as an agent were classic stories. His love story and ending were also classics. He is the one character I feel like we could have more of in a number of eras.

3) Darth Krayt – I found him to be kind of dull during the Clone Wars, but in the flashbacks as a villain he was much more polished. He’s a great character that truly went bad and never looked back.

2) Aayla Secura – Dark then light then a Master. She was saved then helped to save Quinlan. I loved her journey.

1) Cade Skywalker – Han Solo with a lightsaber indeed. This is Star Wars at its very best. All that’s missing was a Wookie and a bad hyperdrive.


4) Kihotay – The original crazy Jedi. This opened up a world of all kinds of Jedi that may or may not be floating throughout the galaxy!

3) Jaxxon – An assassin rabbit. This character was a nasty character that didn’t get into the comics enough.

2) Dani – Luke’s girlfriend who also was a pirate that had an excellent rivalry with Leia prior to the reveal that Luke and Leia are siblings.

1) Serji X-Arrogantus – A space cowboy with spurs! Han really found a strange cast for his Magnificent Seven story.

Mark Kuhn said...

Great job, Matt. Your blog is very cleverly titled and the content is informative, mature and well written. Keep up the great work!
Mark (I was in dewey's earlier today, discussing unemployment, etc.)

Mark Kuhn said...
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