Hutts

Going Solo: Contispex I

Contispex I is a character who, although minor in the scope of Star Wars lore, has a story that I find intensely fascinating. Mentioned for the first time in a solitary paragraph in Daniel Wallace’s The New Essential Chronology (2005), with his story being expanded in subsequent reference books, Contispex I was a human and an ancient Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic who, along with his descendants, launched numerous crusades against alien species and their human allies. An adherent of the zealous and extremist Pius Dea religion – a faith which, according to The Essential Guide to Warfare (2012), taught followers that  “…fallen communities should be restored to purity by purging their unredeemable elements…” (27)  – Contispex took the reigns of the Republic in the year 11,987 BBY and set about reforming the corruption of the Senate and government by placing Pius Dea faithful in positions of power.

What was, at first, a small religion dedicated to the worship of a Goddess and confined to the shadows of Coruscant where it began, Pius Dea quickly exploded into galactic prominence thanks to Contispex. Referred to as the Pius Dea Era  (ca. 12,000 – 11,000 BBY) in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the millennia of Pius Dea rule which Contispex I instituted would see galactic purges, imprisonments, forced conversions, inquisitions and executions justified under the rallying cry that “The Goddess Wills It!” But it is the 30+ crusades of Contispex I and his successors which truly stand out, crusades that were launched to rid the galaxy of the scourge of alien civilizations. In 11,965 BBY the first crusade was directed by Contispex, a “pre-emptive strike against the Hutts beyond the Rim” according to The Essential Guide to Warfare (27). Subsequent crusades would be directed against other alien species: the Bothans, Lanniks, Zabraks, Herglics, and more.

Notably, during the Pius Dea Era the Jedi Order abdicated its responsibilities as peacekeepers and protectors, instead choosing to renounce its affiliation with the Republic. While individual members of the Order chose to challenge Pius Dea rule, as a whole the Order was “unwilling to take up arms against the civilization they had safeguarded” (27). This would change after almost 1,000 years had passed when the Jedi Order allied itself with oppressed species to overthrow Contispex XIX, arresting him and installing Jedi Grand Master Biel Ductavis in the Chancellorship (27).

While Contispex I truly is a minor character in the grand scope of Expanded Universe lore, as is the era of Pius Dea rule, I never-the-less find him intensely fascinating precisely because his story opens a vast window to the imagination. As someone who studied religion/theology in college and graduate school, the idea that the Old Republic succumbed to zealous theocratic rule in the name of “The Goddess” for nearly a millennia intrigues me and leaves me wanting to know more. Of course, at this point I have soaked up everything I can about Contispex I and the Pius Dea religion, having mined the tomes of Star Wars reference books for every morsel of information.

In fact, it was one very small morsel in a Star Wars reference book which led me to write this piece, a reference to Contispex I in Solo: A Star Wars Story – The Official Guide. Contained within The Official Guide to Han Solo’s standalone film is a page that is dedicated to the vast collection of rare treasures which Dryden Vos, leader of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate, displays in the study aboard his star yacht. And, as The Official Guide notes, among this impressive collection of artifacts are “…arks that hold the ashes of Chancellor Contispex I…”

Contispex I
Image Credit:
Solo: A Star Wars Story – The Official Guide

As I said, a very small morsel indeed, but one that immediately caught my attention given my interest in Contispex I. On the one hand, what makes this nod to Contispex I important is that it re-affirms his place in the Star Wars canon. A minor character in the Expanded Universe, Contispex I is now, also, a minor character in Disney’s Alternate Universe. On the other hand, this is hardly surprising. While I was NOT expecting a reference to Contispex I in The Official Guide to Solo, that author Pablo Hidalgo – a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group – found a way to incorporate Contispex I into the book makes perfect sense. With Vos’ study populated by rare and ancient artifacts, Hidalgo could easily mine the ancient history of Star Wars confined within the Expanded Universe and provide readily available information about the artifacts without entirely having to re-create ancient Star Wars lore.

In fact, Hidalgo not only identifies the ashes of Contispex I in The Official Guide but he also attaches other elements of Expanded Universe lore to items in Dryden Vos’ study. A “crystal masthead” is identified as that of Xim the Despot while a dataplaque is noted as containing the location of the Xim’s long-lost treasure ship, the Queen of Ranroon. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Xim the Despot, he was first mentioned in the novel Han Solo and the Lost Legacy while the Queen of Ranroon received it’s first mention in Han Solo’s Revenge. As well, a carver set is noted to be that of Noghri origin, the species first appearing in Timothy Zahn’s popular novel Heir to the Empire, while a set of wraith boxes come from the long-extinct Rakata, a technologically superior civilization which was originally created for the Knights of the Old Republic video game.

While I highly doubt that Contispex I, the Pius Dea era, or other elements of the Expanded Universe which have crept into the Disney Canon will be teased out in greater detail, I am never-the-less pleased by the fact that these legendary aspects of Star Wars continue to have relevance. More importantly, these elements bring with them pre-crafted stories which need-not be reconstructed. Rather, they unify the Expanded Universe and Disney’s Alternate Universe in small, subtle ways. Contispex I may only ever have this one, small reference in The Official Guide to Solo: A Star Wars Story, but that reference is packed with the already rich story about Contispex and the tumultuous era of Pius Dea rule. As far as I am concerned, unless Contispex I receives a brand new tale which changes his narrative – a highly unlikely prospect – I will move forward with my enjoyment of Star Wars knowing that he, and the Expanded Universe I love, continue to add depth and meaning to the galaxy far, far away.

The Hutts of Mataou

Since it was released in September 2015, Star Wars: Uprising hasn’t really garnered a great deal of attention, and when it has, the attention hasn’t always been positive. In large part, this is because the mobile game – which takes place in the Outer Rim’s Anoat sector and is set in the months following the Battle of Endor – is a real slog, taking the player on a lengthy journey of level-ups, gear/crew upgrades, sector battles, and story missions that seem to drag out. In other words, it takes a persistent amount of dedication and patience to stay committed to Uprising, especially if one wants to soak up all that it adds to the Star Wars mythos.

Well, long story short, I am one of those persistent people. I was ready to play Uprising before it launched, and since then, I have consistently played it. I have, in fairness, taken some breaks every now and again, but I nevertheless continue to go back to it. I have always loved Star Wars RPG games, in large part because these games offer a “direct experience” of the universe. Sure, Uprising might not be the most popular of games, but it is a game that I enjoy because it offers a unique take on Star Wars, the immersion in the history and present-day happenings of a sector in the Star Wars galaxy. No, it isn’t the most action-packed of Star Wars games ever made, but approach it with an open-mind and one will quickly discover that there is a lot to glean from it about Star Wars lore.

So what does Uprising have to do with Hutt Week? Well, read on and you will find out it has EVERYTHING to do with Hutt Week.

Journey to a Desolate World

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Rancor skulls staked beneath fraying banners.

Photo Credit – Star Wars: Uprising

Originally introduced in The Essential Atlas – one of the MANY Expanded Universe reference guides – Mataou is a planet that C-3PO would certainly describe as a “desolate place.” A hot desert world sitting on the edge of the Ivax Nebula, Mataou serves as one of the entry points into the Ison Trade Corridor, a hyperspace route that branches off of the Corellian Trade Spine. Best known for the native and highly venomous Ro Hypa serpent, Mataou is also notorious for its former rulers: the Hutts.

In those missions in Uprising where one travels to Mataou, what one comes across are the ruins of a once grand Hutt presence. While some of these ruins have been restored thanks to criminal elements that utilize Mataou as a hideout, the structures on the planet are otherwise in disuse and show clear signs of crumbling and decay. Nevertheless, the classic architecture and massive complexes point backwards in history to a time when the Hutts dominated the planet.

Of particular note on Mataou are statues of various Hutts – perhaps those who belonged to the Gnuda Kajidic (family/crime gang) – a visual reminder of the influence and power the Hutts maintained over those they ruled. Draped from the sides of the impressive buildings are tattered banners, the script written on them being a form of Huttese that also appeared in The Clone Wars episode “Bound for Rescue.” In turn, scattered among the abandoned, sand-swept ruins one also comes upon the occasional bleached skulls of dead Rancors, a clear indication that Jabba was not the only Hutt to have an affinity for the massive beasts. Additionally, there are chains and shackles attached to walls, and one has to wonder if slaves and/or enemies were fed to Rancors, Ro Hypa, or other deadly creatures. As well, the wreckage of desert skiffs, similar to the ones we see in Return of the Jedi, can also be found strewn about the Hutt complexes.

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Ancient Security Droid
Photo Credit – Star Wars: Uprising

Perhaps the most direct and obvious remnant of these Hutts are the droids they left behind.  In a number of missions to Mataou, one is forced to deal with Ancient Security Droids, Hutt Security Droids, and the powerful Hutt Guard Droids. These robots of old continue to roam and guard the abandoned Hutt structures, following their directive to eliminate trespassers. While these droids are not the only threats one will face on Mataou ,they are never-the-less extremely formidable and dangerous. It is no wonder the Hutt complexes are so sparsely occupied…

The most intriguing vestige of these Hutts, at least in my opinion, is a spot known as the Shrine of Dynasties. With an altar at its center, thriving plant life, and an ambiance radiating tranquility, the Shrine has an obvious sacred and religious feel to it. In fact, I would not be surprised to learn that the Shrine is a conduit for the Living Force.  

Historically, the Shrine of Dynasties was used as a meeting place between the Hutts and the Nothoiin Noble Court. The Nobles, you learn in the game, are the long-time and rightful rulers of the Anoat sector. At the Shrine, the two sides would discuss matters of peace and cooperation. Unfortunately, this is all we learn about not only the Shrine of Dynasties but the relationship between the Hutts and Nobles. Still, this little information is enough to make me want to know more about their relationship. It’s hard to imagine any Hutts being cooperative or peaceful, but clearly the Hutts who governed Mataou were willing to be both with the Noble Court.

ShrineOfDynasties
My character stands before the altar in the center of the Shrine of Dynasties.

Photo Credit – Star Wars: Uprising

Then again, even if they were peaceful and cooperative with the Nothoiion nobles, this hardly means they always acted/negotiated with righteous intentions. After all, we are talking about Hutts, a species best known for profiting off of illegal activities. It would not be surprising if we eventually learn their peace and cooperation was motivated by the desire to avoid the scrutiny of the Nobles. Better to play along so the Nothoiion do not suspect the Hutts are up to no good, right? 

Ultimately, it’s hard to say for sure exactly what the Hutts of Mataou were like beyond what little information we can piece together in the game. Perhaps they actually WERE a planet of Hutts that broke the mold, acting altruistically and for the benefit of all. Or, maybe they were like other Hutt clans, entirely concerned with their  own self-interests and preservation. There is no way of knowing for sure until more information about these Hutts is added to Uprising specifically, or the Star Wars canon in general.

And if that is to happen, if we do end up getting more details about these Hutts – their relationship with the Nobles, their opulent lifestyle, their connection with other Hutt worlds, etc. – I also hope we are eventually told why their civilization on Mataou crumbled. This is probably the single biggest question I have about the Hutts of Mataou, a curiosity to know what became of them and why they no longer inhabit the world. In Uprising, a character named Riley mentions that the Hutts might have left the planet because of the Ro Hypa, and perhaps this was so. Otherwise, maybe there had been infighting, or a war with outsiders, or a disease that wiped out the population. Or perhaps, in what would be typical Hutt fashion, living on Mataou stopped being good for profits and they moved to another world. The possibilities are limitless and open to the imagination. 

Still, I should note that there is at least one Hutt who continues to live in the Anoat sector, one whose ancestors hailed from the desert world: Voras the Hutt, leader of the Ivax Syndicate. A mysterious Hutt with his hands in an endless number of criminal activities, Voras and his Syndicate hold incredible influence in the Anoat sector. But that is all I will say about them…I don’t need Voras putting a bounty on my head. 


Check out these other Hutt Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Hutt Week

Hutts: Galactic Gangsters

Hutt Week: “Cute” Jabba the Hutt Merchandise (by Jenmarie from Anakin and His Angel)

Jabba the (CGI) Hutt

Why Ziro’s  My Hero (by Andrew – @AndrewinBelfast)

A Man in Debt to a Hutt (by Michael Miller)

Hutt Haiku Poems

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

Heir to a Criminal Empire

Hutt Week: A Conclusion

Hutts: Galactic Gangsters

Captain Panaka says it best in The Phantom Menance: “the Hutts are gangsters.” Dominating the Star Wars underworld through organized crime, the slug-like Hutts are a force to be reckoned with, their power and wealth coming from a conceivably endless list of illegal activities – slavery, gambling, racing, arms dealing, racketeering and extortion, smuggling, gladiator matches and blood sports, violence, and murder. Controlling large swaths the Outer Rim – from Tatooine and Mataou to the Hutt homeworld of Nal Hutta and it’s moon Nar Shadda – their collective influence seeps into the hidden corners of the galaxy while also making its way to the seats of galactic power in the Old Republic and Galactic Empire. In every imaginable way, the Hutts live up to the moniker “gangster,” their criminal dealings and nefarious presence always lurking in the shadows. And out of all the Hutts in the Star Wars universe, the one who lives up to the term gangster better than all the others is incredibly obvious. It is Marlo the Hutt.

You thought I was gonna say Jabba the Hutt, right? Well yeah, of course the answer is Jabba, but I will get to him in a second because Marlo the Hutt is worth discussing.

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Marlo the Hutt

Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3, Episode 9 – “Hunt for Ziro”

Introduced in Season 3 of The Clone Wars, in the episode “Evil Plans,” Marlo the Hutt was/is a member of the Hutt Council (I’ll discuss the council momentarily). Appearing as a hologram, Marlo is present for a handful of seconds and only listens while other members of the Council discuss important matters. However, at the outset of the very next episode, “Hunt for Ziro,” Marlo appears once again, and this time we do hear from him. Seeing him more clearly, able now to listen to his voice, it becomes very very VERY apparent that Marlo the Hutt was based on Vito Corleone.

Vito Corleone, the Don who heads the Corleone crime family in what is undoubtedly one of the greatest (gangster) films of all time – The Godfather. Like Corleone, Marlo has the puffy cheeks, a thin “mustache” created by marks on his upper lip, slick looking “hair,”  and a wrinkled forehead. Marlo also speaks with a low, raspy form of Huttese similar to the low, raspy English of Don Corleone in The Godfather. Moreover,  Marlo the Hutt – whose name is not mentioned in  “Hunt for Ziro” but does appear in the credits – is clearly named in honor of Marlon Brando, the legendary actor who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Vito Corleone.

In turn, the inclusion of Marlo the Hutt in “Evil Plans” and “Hunt for Ziro” is appropriate since these back-to-back episodes of The Clone Wars are where we are first introduced to the aforementioned Hutt Council. This Council, a body comprised of the five Hutts who control the five major Hutt families, governs the collective criminal activities of the entire Hutt Clan, the crime syndicate to which these families belong. Just as Marlo is a nod to Don Corleone, the Hutt Clan is a clear nod to the Five Families in The Godfather (which were themselves based on the real-life Five Families of the Italian American Mafia), while the Hutt Council was obviously based on the Commission, the ruling body consisting of the heads of these Five Families.

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Don Vito Corleone (portrayed by Marlon Brando)

Photo Credit – The Godfather

As someone who absolutely loves The Godfather, I think it is pretty damn cool that the show runners of The Clone Wars chose to make these connections with the iconic film. These connections, at least for me, added a new, dynamic depth to the Hutts, a layer of rich complexity to their criminal enterprise that had not previously existed. That said, for those who have never seen The Godfather, it is at this point that I would encourage you to check it out. Even if one is completely uninterested in all the ways the Hutts are akin to the Five Families or the Corleones, The Godfather is just too damn good not to watch for it’s own sake.

That said, whether you have seen the film, need to watch it, or just don’t want to watch it, I need to clarify something before we move on. In short, while Marlo the Hutt was obviously created as an homage to Marlon Brandon’s iconic character, Marlo is not the real Don Corleone of Star Wars. Heck, Marlo isn’t even the leader of the Hutt Council – but I bet you already knew that. The leader of the Hutt Council, the real “godfather” in Star Wars, is the none other than the illustrious Jabba the Hutt, so let’s turn our attention to him.

The Original Gangster: Jabba the Hutt

There is something incredibly special about the way Jabba was first introduced in Star Wars – indirectly, through conversation. Han Solo, whom we just met at the Mos Eisley Cantina in A New Hope, gets up to leave and is immediately stopped by the bounty hunter Greedo. Gun in his chest, questioned where he is headed, Han tells Greedo “I was just going to see your boss. Tell Jabba I’ve got his money.” This statement not only sets the tone and trajectory for Han and Greedo’s tense discussion, which leads to the moment Han shoots Greedo, but it also introduces us to Jabba and establishes how we are to think about this new, mysterious figure. Without needing to see him in the flesh, it is apparent this “Jabba” is a powerful criminal boss – one with enough wealth to hire bounty hunters – and that his form of  justice is simple: if you cross him, there are repercussions. Just as the real villains in The Godfather are those who betray the Corleone family, those who would betray Jabba are his villains, and Han has clearly done something to make Jabba angry.

So what did Han do to cross Jabba? We learn from the conversation that Han dumped a shipment he was smuggling for the crime lord when he ran into an Imperial cruiser. Explaining to Greedo that he had no choice, that “Even I get boarded sometimes,” Greedo responds by saying Han can “tell that to Jabba.” Are we to believe this Jabba would care that Han dumped his shipment before he was boarded? Absolutely not! Solo’s decision to dump the cargo was clearly out of self-preservation, Han looking out for Han. The thing is, Jabba isn’t concerned about Han or his safety, Jabba is only concerned with his own self-interests, and since that cargo belonged to the gangster, Han must pay the consequences for his betrayal. And as we know, Han does “pay” when he ends up frozen in carbonite and used as Jabba’s favorite decoration in the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine.  A cruel punishment, but under the auspices of Hutt justice, an entirely fair one.

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Han Solo, frozen in carbonite, hands on the wall in Jabba’s Palace.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Knowing that Han was wanted by a mysterious crime lord was always one of the most compelling aspects of the Original Trilogy, a sub-plot that runs through the first two movies, and finally culminates in the first act of Return of the Jedi. From the very beginning, this sub-plot helped to establish one of the most important backdrops to the Star Wars galaxy: the criminal underworld. 

Journey to the Underworld

From his first mention in A New Hope to his death in Return of the Jedi, Jabba is the very center of this underworld, its heart and soul. Sure, there are a handful of other vile characters in the Original Trilogy- like Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan who threaten Luke in the Mos Eisley Cantina- but no one on the same level as Jabba.

What really stands out about Jabba and his role in establishing the criminal underworld is that we learn next to nothing about his questionable dealings in the Original Trilogy. While we know Han was hired to smuggle some type of illegal cargo, it is never stated what that cargo actually was. Then again, it doesn’t even matter what it was, all that matters is that it belonged to the Hutt. Jabba’s unwillingness to let even his best smuggler get away with this one act is all it takes to establish Jabba as an unforgiving mob boss, and the underworld as a ruthless and dangerous place to inhabit.

In turn, this underworld is symbolically represented in Return of the Jedi by Jabba’s palace on Tatooine. A dark, dimly lit place with strange sounds and vicious creatures, one must literally descend into the palace depths to have an audience with the Hutt. Upon entering the throne room, one finds the Hutt reclined and smoking hookah, a Sultan enjoying his opulent lifestyle as Baroque-style music plays in the background. With his majordomo Bib Fortuna at his side, and surrounded by a court of henchmen, bounty hunters, slaves, droids, and loyal subjects, there is no doubt that Jabba is the King of the this criminal underworld.

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Jabba the Hutt sits on his throne and smokes hookah.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Of course, this underworld has since grown larger than it was in the Original Trilogy – thanks in large part to the Expanded Universe – becoming a realm inhabited by an endless line-up of other Hutts, small time criminals, marauding pirates, bounty hunters, and other villainous beings. There are crime organizations of all types – syndicates, death gangs, cartels, shadow armies – some having power and influence similar to Jabba and the  Hutt Clan. A number of these organizations have also gained prodigious popularity among Star Wars fans (Black Sun, Kanjiklub, Death Watch), while certain criminals/gang leaders have become equally popular (Prince Xizor, Hondo Ohnaka). Plus, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that one bounty hunter has also received god-like status among fans (Boba Fett), while another is closing in on divinity (Cad Bane).

Yet, at the end of the day, all of these individuals and organizations, even those that I absolutely love with an intense passion, just cannot compare to Jabba the Hutt. Jabba will always be the the Don Corleone, the original gangster of Star Wars, a figure whose iconic stature towers over all other underworld characters. However, this shouldn’t be taken to mean that Jabba’s influence within Star Wars cannot be surpassed by another, especially following his death in Return of the Jedi.

The thing is, in my mind there is really only one character who could effectively replace the King of the underworld, who could rebuild his vast criminal empire and become a force equal to the late gangster – Jabba’s son, Rotta.

But I’ll discuss him in another post.


Check out these other Hutt Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Hutt Week

Hutt Week: “Cute” Jabba the Hutt Merchandise (by Jenmarie from Anakin and His Angel)

Jabba the (CGI) Hutt

Why Ziro’s  My Hero (by Andrew – @AndrewinBelfast)

A Man in Debt to a Hutt (by Michael Miller)

Hutt Haiku Poems

The Hutts of Mataou

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

Heir to a Criminal Empire

Hutt Week: A Conclusion

The Imperial Talker Presents: Hutt Week

Welcome to Hutt Week, Pedunkee Mufkin!!!

After the success of Ewok Week, I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before I switched things up once again and dedicated another week to a species in the Star Wars galaxy. Welp, that week has finally arrived.

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to Hutt Week. For the entire week, my focus will be on the slimy pieces of worm-ridden filth that dominate the criminal underworld in the Star Wars galaxy. Naturally, Jabba the Hutt (pictured above) will be our mascot for the week, but he isn’t the only Hutt who will be profiled or discussed. As the week progresses, I will be sharing a number of wide-ranging posts I have written on the Hutts, but also have some exciting contributions from fans of Star Wars/The Imperial Talker to share with y’all as well. And, if you haven’t contributed some Fan Art or a Hutt Haiku but would like to do so, feel free to contact me!

Hutt Week in Huttese
“Hutt Week” in Huttese

Ultimately, you should think of Hutt Week as an open forum, an opportunity to engage with not just my thoughts on the Hutts, but to share your own with the Star Wars community. I encourage and invite you to comment on the posts, to send me your #HuttWeek thoughts on Twitter and/or Facebook, and if nothing else, to just kick back and have fun thinking about the Hutts for an entire week.

Oh, and while you kick back, be sure to enjoy the theme song for Hutt Week – Jabba Flow

Enjoy Hutt Week and May the Force be with You!

Jeff – The Imperial Talker


Check out these Hutt Week posts:

Hutts: Galactic Gangsters

Hutt Week: “Cute” Jabba the Hutt Merchandise (by Jenmarie from Anakin and His Angel)

Jabba the (CGI) Hutt

Why Ziro’s  My Hero (by Andrew – @AndrewinBelfast)

A Man in Debt to a Hutt (by Michael Miller)

Hutt Haiku Poems

The Hutts of Mataou

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

Heir to a Criminal Empire

Hutt Week: A Conclusion