Jabba the Hutt

Heir to a Criminal Empire

When I saw The Clone Wars movie for the first time, I was profoundly struck by the fact that Jabba the Hutt had a child – Rotta the Huttlet. This unexpected fact immediately added a whole new dimension to the notorious crime lord. No longer was he just the King of the Star Wars underworld, driven only by the desire for profit, power, and prestige. Instead, he was also tender and caring, a parent who loved his Huttlet and would stop at nothing to protect his “pedunkee mufkin” (punky muffin).

When Rotta is kidnapped at the film’s outset, Jabba sends bounty hunters to track down his child and the culprits. When the heads of the bounty hunters are returned without their bodies, a desperate Jabba turns to the Republic/Jedi and Separatists/Count Dooku for help. For Jabba, the return of his son is far more important than the perception of weakness asking for help might create. In turn, one of the most truly genuine expressions of affection in all of Star Wars – at least in my opinion – comes when Rotta is returned to his father. I am always moved by the scene, overcome by Jabba’s voice, his expression, his sheer joy and obvious relief when he sees that his  “mufkin” is safe. You can FOLLOW THIS LINK to watch the scene for yourself, and while you might not have the same experience I have, I think you will at least see understand what I am saying about Jabba’s joy and relief. Plus, Rotta is also clearly relieved when he is back in his father’s arms, a happy child with his equally happy father.

Returned
Rotta the Huttlet is returned to his father, Jabba the Hutt.

Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars (movie)

So what has become of the adorable Huttlet from the The Clone Wars movie? Well, I have no idea. Since his introduction in the film, Rotta has been an otherwise invisible character in Star Wars. After I saw the movie, I was certain that Rotta would be making a number of appearances throughout the Star Wars canon, that his character would be expanded. Instead, Rotta appears in just one episode of The Clone Wars  (“Sphere of Influence”), he received an indirect mention in the episode “Hunt for Ziro,” and has a couple of mentions in a handful of Star Wars reference books. And that is it. I keep expecting him to show up somewhere else in the canon, but as time goes on, my optimism that he will reappear has started to wane.

And this really REALLY bothers me. Rotta is the heir to Jabba’s criminal empire for crying out loud!!! HOW IS THAT NOT A BIGGER DEAL!?!?! Unless Rotta died before the events of Return of the Jedi, the young Hutt HAS to factor into the Star Wars universe again. Period. End of story.

As it stands right now in the post-Return of the Jedi universe, the death of Jabba not only created a power vacuum in the criminal underworld, but it threw the Hutts into chaos. In the novel Aftermath, for example, we learn that although Jabba has been dead for months, the Hutt Council had not yet determined his successor. Given this small fact, it would hardly be surprising if the reason Jabba’s replacement had not been determined was because the most dominant and influential Hutts were fighting among themselves, concerned only for their individual self-interests. The thing is, Jabba already has a successor who can take his place on the Council, which leads me to wonder if the Hutts had not yet “chosen” a successor because they didn’t want to give Rotta the seat. With Jabba dead, it is likely that other Hutts wanted to deny Rotta the power his father had, and keeping him from the Council is one way to do this. Moreover, with the godfather dead, and his son still young, many Hutts would assuredly try to move quickly to assimilate Jabba’s holdings into their own. Again, a way of denying Rotta his rightful power/wealth while bolstering their own.

Of course, I cannot say with certainty how the Hutts have acted after Jabba’s death because there is such little in the canon to work from. Regardless, my point is ultimately that in the wake of Jabba’s demise, no matter what  the situation really looks like, Rotta should be  the one to step up and take over his father’s legacy. Honestly, think about the potential Rotta offers the post-Return of the Jedi canon. His father dead and the Hutt Clan in chaos, the young Hutt – just a teen in Hutt years – could begin his own rise to power in the underworld, ruthlessly reorganizing the entire Clan. You heard me: ruthless. This wouldn’t be the cute and adorable Huttlet we meet in The Clone Wars movie. Oh no, this would be a Hutt who had started learning the tricks of his father’s trade, who was being groomed to eventually take over the family business – and the family business is deadly. That said, I am picturing a scenario where Rotta orders the execution of the remaining members of the Hutt Council, a way of showing all other Hutts that he is in charge and that you do not cross him. How intensely cool would that be!?!?!

But rebuilding his father’s empire and becoming the top Hutt isn’t the ONLY story worth telling about Rotta. No, there is another layer to this story, a deeper one that could help drive Rotta’s ruthless nature – a desire for revenge, a desire to kill the one called “Huttslayer.” I am referring, of course, to Leia, the term “Huttslayer” being given to her by members of the Nikto species in the novel Bloodline. Since we learn in the novel that a recording of Leia killing Jabba exists, and that the Hutts are in possession of all but one copy, there is every reason to believe that Rotta would have eventually watched the video. In turn, it is hardly far-fetched to imagine a scenario where Rotta seeks to bring Leia to justice – “Hutt justice” – and make her suffer for killing his father. In fact, while I know a lot of people will undoubtedly disagree with this, I am even open to Rotta getting what he wants – the death of the “Huttslayer.” Will that story actually happen? No, of course not, but that doesn’t mean I am closing the door on the idea. Good storytelling needs unpredictable and difficult moments, situations so gut-wrenching that you are not only repulsed but you can’t stop yourself from wanting to know what happens next. To me, that is what Rotta killing Leia would do, it would punch us in the gut, totally changing the trajectory of the Star Wars universe, but we wouldn’t be able to turn away because we would HAVE to know what happens afterwards. 

Leia_Choking_Jabba_2
Leia becomes the “Huttslayer,” killer of Jabba.

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

In fairness, I am not saying a story involving Rotta going after Leia would HAVE to end this way. Hell, maybe following the events that will transpire in Episode IX, Rotta seeks justice in a Republic court, bringing Leia to trial for killing his father. The possible outcomes are limitless! Still, my point is ultimately that a story involving Rotta and Leia SHOULD happen, if only as a way to get Rotta back into the Star Wars canon. Then again, Rotta should already be a bigger factor in the canon. Frankly, Rotta’s absence isn’t just confusing, to me it is outright pathetic, a clear sign that after he was invented as a plot device in The Clone Wars movie, no one really knew what to do with him. Well, I know what to do with him. Disney/Lucasfilm can just give me a call and I will get Jabba’s “pedunkee mufkin” back into the fold, following in his father’s footsteps as the King of the Star Wars underworld. 


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

The Hutts of Mataou

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

Hutt Week: A Conclusion

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

The very first time we “meet” Gardulla the Hutt is when she is referenced by Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menance. Specifically, the young slave boy explains to Padmé Amidala that he and his mother were originally owned by the female Hutt, but that Gardulla had lost them in a bet to their current owner, Watto. From there, the scene moves on and Gardulla’s small shout-out fads into the background of the film. That is, of course, until she actually appears next to Jabba the Hutt just before the Boonta Eve Classic gets under way!!! While the race announcers proclaim the arrival of Jabba, unfortunately they do not announce that Gardulla is also with him. In fairness, it makes sense that the  Jabba’s  entrance is announced since he is hosting the Classic. Plus, giving Jabba the Hutt a brief cameo in The Phantom Menance was, realistically, the point to this scene.

Gardula the Hutt
Gardulla the Hutt

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

However, since the announcers don’t mention Gardulla’s presence at the Classic, I spent a long time after the release of The Phantom Menance having no idea who the mysterious, female Hutt actually was. It wasn’t until a handful of years later, at some point in the early 2000s, that I finally learned that the unknown Hutt was Gardulla, the former owner of Shmi and Anakin Skywalker. While this small fact didn’t dramatically change the way I view/experience The  Phantom Menace, it was pretty cool finding out the identity of the mysterious Hutt. And it does, at the very least, add an interesting layer to the Boonta Eve Classic, the fact that young Skywalker’s former master was present to watch him win the race. Well, that is if she didn’t fall asleep like Jabba.

Following the release of The Phantom Menace, Gardulla went on to make several appearances in the Expanded Universe (EU). While I won’t recap all of her stories from the EU, it is worth mentioning that in the Star Wars: Bounty Hunter video game, Gardulla is shoved into the arena that houses her pet krayt dragon and is subsequently eaten. However, Gardulla survived “the swallowing” because the krayt dragon – according to Story Group member Leeland Chee – found her indigestible.

Otherwise, with the EU no more, Gardulla’s only appearances  in Star Wars (not counting reference books) have come in The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars Season 3 episode “Hunt for Ziro.” In this episode, the Hutt Council – the body that governs the Hutt Clan – convenes in Gardulla’s palace on Nal Hutta, the Hutt homeworld. While Gardulla is not one of the five Hutts on the Council (the Databank wrongly states she is), she none-the-less presides over the meeting, acting/speaking on behalf of the absent Jabba. For this reason, I think it is safe to say that Gardulla is the Council’s “sixth Hutt,” having just as much (if not more) wealth and power than some of the other Hutts on the Council.

Still, it is disappointing that Gardulla is not an official member of the Hutt Council for one very specific: –  Gardulla is a female Hutt, one of the only female Hutts in the canon. She is a Hutt with incredible influence, a crime lord whose reach most certainly spreads far beyond her palace on Nal Hutta or her dealings on Tatooine. True, she may not be on par with Jabba, but Jabba clearly trusts her to represent his interests on the Council. Most importantly, what this shows is that Gardulla has worked her way into the upper echelon of the Hutt Clan, an upper echelon that is dominated by male Hutts.

GardullaPalace
Gardulla’s Palace on Nal Hutta

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

And yet, she is not a formal member of the Hutt Council because…well, in all honesty, the show runners of The Clone Wars didn’t make her one. Still, I am glad she was included in “Hunt  for Ziro,” and that her dominating presence is felt, albeit briefly, in the episode. Moreover, Gardulla could easily be elevated to full-member given the events of The Clone Wars episode “Eminence.” In the episode, Sith apprentice Savage Opress creates an opening on the Council when he kills Oruba the Hutt, and there is no Hutt more deserving than Gardulla to take Oruba’s place. Granted, another member of Oruba’s family should technicaly take the deceased Hutt’s place on the Council, but I have a feeling Jabba could use his influence to secure the spot for Gardulla.

Regardless, Gardulla is also deserving of far more attention in the Star Wars canon, and  I want to know what happened to her after we see her in “Hunt for Ziro.” Her elevation to Council Member after Oruba’s death is one way to do this, but I’m also interested in knowing, if nothing else, how she reacted to the death of Jabba. The novel Aftermath establishes that the Hutt Council, months after his death, had not yet filled the seat on the governing body left vacant by Jabba’s demise, and I can definitely picture a scenario in which Gardulla would jockey to be the leader of the body. This doesn’t mean, though, that I think she would also maneuver to steal away the power and wealth Jabba left behind. While I have no doubt a number of Hutts would try to soak up what was left behind by the late crime lord, Gardulla just feels like the type who would be far more interested in ensuring the Hutt Clan survived their leaders death. Besides, given her close ties to Jabba, I can also imagine Gardulla watching over and mentoring the rightful heir to the the late Hutt’s criminal empire – Jabba’s son, Rotta.

My general musings aside, I really would be thrilled to see Gardulla the Hutt make some more appearances in the Star Wars universe, whatever that may entail, and I don’t think I am alone in this wish. At least, I don’t think I am, right? Would you like to see more of Gardulla Besadii the Elder in the Star Wars canon? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think about Gardulla. 


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

The Hutts of Mataou

Heir to a Criminal Empire

Hutt Week: A Conclusion

Hutt Haiku Poems

I hope you enjoy these Hutt Haiku Poems created by fans of Star Wars/The Imperial Talker and by yours truly! Feel free to email your own Hutt-related haiku if you would like to add to the page!


Damn, Jabba the Hutt
At it again with the tongue
“Bo shuda” he said

That’s Uncle Ziro
Is he Truman Capote?
I think he might be

Submitted by: John S.


Jabba, great crime slug
your best friend is a muppet
crawl on, m’boogie

Submitted by: Derek W.


Jabba no botha
Said the Twilek with red eyes
Luke did not listen

Solo is frozen
A Huttese decoration
His debt is now paid

Submitted by: Cameron C.


Loved Clone Wars, I did,
but nearly ruined, it was,
by Ziro the Hutt.

Submitted by: Brian L.


Eye for an Eye

Submitted by: Andrew (@AndrewinBelfast)


Dearest Mister Hutt,
I have a question for you
…from where do you poo?

Submitted by: Andykin


You were quite surprised
A princess slave seductress
Binded with your doom.

Eat eat eat those frogs. 
Twi’leks are my favorite. 
Pod racing is blah.

Submitted by: Violet


Jabba no bother
Lives thug life like  no other
Eyes like big brother

Submitted by: David M.


THE INCOMPARABLE LAMENTATIONS OF THE LATE ZIRO DESILIJIC TIURE

“Alas! What a fate!
I was sooo misunderstood…
People were unfair.

In spite of praising
My dazzling sense of fashion
They just misjudged me

Me! the devoted
Champion of betterment
Of my fellow Hutts!

They had no idea,
The great unspeakable things
I was able of!…

The horrors…”

SHUT UP spoiled son!
Who are you trying to fool?
Momma is not proud!

Love-sick purple Hutt!
Getting yourself shot like that!
Sy Snootles? Really?!”

(The incomparable answer of his formidable mother)

Submitted by: Léa Yumekawa


Tow’ring Empire
Wide in size and influence
Pizza or Jabba?

Fickle mood, quick rage
Bad news for interpreters
And also smugglers

That Hutt, the Jabba
He likes haiku, do you too?
Otherwise, Sarlacc…

Trap door in the floor
Hungry Rancor needs to eat;
dancer and not pie?

Slipp’ry and slimy
Bad breath behind that big tongue
Who will love that Hutt?

A Hutt’s heart is sad
Keeping the world so distant
Afraid of slug jokes

Submitted by: Michael M.


I chose not to learn
Huttese because I really
wanted a girlfriend.

Does every Hutt burp
like Nashi, creating a
cloud that smells of meat?

Rotta the Huttlet
Kidnapped by Ventress, Rescued
by Sky Guy and Snips

If not much trouble,
Could someone ask Hidalgo
how Hutt lovers mate?

Pedunkee Mufkin,
Rotta the Huttlet, young son
of vile Jabba.

“Righteous are the Hutts!”
“HA!!! Tell that to Kanjiklub
and you will be killed!”

Great Boonta, Hutt god
on high, does our podracer
Classic delight you?

The Hutt-Xim Conflict,
thousands of years in the past;
no longer canon 😦

Does anyone know
how I can get a meeting
with Voras the Hutt?

Thick bogs, greasy rains,
dragonsnake infested world.
Nal Hutta sounds great!

Do Jedi not care
that slavery is thriving
on Hutt controlled worlds?

Slave Leia no more;
Now she is the Huttslayer,
killer of Jabba.

Submitted by: Jeffrey A. Cagle (The Imperial Talker)


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)

The Hutts of Mataou

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

Heir to a Criminal Empire

Hutt Week: A Conclusion

A Man in Debt to a Hutt

Guest Talker: Michael Miller

In the lead up to Hutt Week, Jeff (The Imperial Talker) and I were having a discussion about a Hutt-related issue that has always confused me.  It’s not directly a Hutt thing but it’s certainly Hutt adjacent.  It’s the type of thing I try not to think about, lest it keep me up at night, struggling in vain to find a workable answer.  Try as I might, I can’t.  The question is simple – Why doesn’t Han just pay Jabba what he owes him? 

Jeff’s already discussed the Hutt crime organization this week so there’s no need for me to go back over the whole structure when it’s a handy hyperlink away.  But here’s the basic rundown of the plot that ties Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt, culminating in the first act of Return Of The Jedi.  Han smuggles for Jabba.  Han dumps his shipment at the sign of Imperial cruisers.  Jabba’s (understandably) a little upset about this.  Jabba wants his money…or he wants Han dead.  Han (also understandably) would rather not die.  So he needs some money.

In the original version of A New Hope, Han fries poor Greedo and then gets the hell out of Dodge, with plans to pay Jabba back after his easy charter to Alderaan. In the Special Edition, we see Han and Jabba talk it out first – Han promises Jabba a little more money and Jabba’s fine with it…as long as Han delivers.  And then he skips town for his easy charter.  As fate (of the Force) would have it, there’s nothing easy about the run.  Han Solo and Chewbacca end up in the heart of the rebellion against the Empire, rescuing Princess Leia, and helping Luke Skywalker in the assault against the Death Star.  Victory ensues and medals are awarded…and then we jump to the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.  The classic exchange on the Hoth Base goes like this:

Han Solo – General, I’ve got to leave.  I can’t stay anymore.
General Rieekan – I’m sorry to hear that.
Han Solo – Well, if I don’t pay off Jabba the Hutt, I’m a dead man.
General Rieekan – A death mark’s not an easy thing to live with.  You’re a good fighter Solo, I hate to lose you.
Han Solo – Thank you, General.

You don’t mess around with the Hutts, especially Jabba.  I get that.  But here’s what troubles me…didn’t Han get a reward for saving Leia?  Didn’t we see Han and Chewie loading several crates of credits on board the Falcon at the end of A New Hope?  Even if Han had given his heart and his soul to the Rebellion (or a certain Princess…), why didn’t he take a short detour to Tatooine to pay off Jabba with the money he had?  The Expanded Universe gave us an answer that involved a gambling problem and some Ocean’s Eleven-style high jinks (thank you Timothy Zahn!) but we all know that’s not canon anymore.  And even if it was, even if Han lost all the money doing something stupid, if he’s such an asset to the Rebellion why wouldn’t they help him with the debt??

The Rebellion, by the very nature of an organization like this, has to have decent cash reserves.  They need to maintain their fleet, bases, equipment, and spy network at the very least.  Why wouldn’t they divert a little money to help Han out, especially if it meant they got to keep Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the fastest ship in the fleet?

han-solo-frozen-in-carbonite_3
Han didn’t pay Jabba, so Han becomes a wall decoration in Jabba’s palace. Seems fair to me.

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

It should be a very simple equation.  Like I said, you don’t mess with Jabba the Hutt or you die.  Han has messed with Jabba the Hutt and is going to die.  Han does not want to die so he needs money.  Han gets money/the Rebellion has monetary reserves.  Han uses his/the Rebellion’s money to pay off Jabba, thus appeasing the Hutt and preserving his life.  Except it all gets a little wonky…  The equation ends up going, Han doesn’t want to die so he needs money.  Han (and the Rebellion) just wait around until a bounty hunter grabs him. Then Luke, Leia, Chewie, Lando, and the droids (some of the Rebellion’s most important assets) have to devote a lot of side time trying to rescue Han.

This has always vexed me.  And unfortunately, this short little post isn’t going to offer any brilliant insights or observations to get us out of this little funk.  Because, quite frankly, I have none. If you do, there’s a lovely little comment section below.  You’d be doing me a HUGE favor if you can put my mind at ease and explain this.  Lacking any sort of logical answer to this question, I’ve found it best to just not think about it!  Is that avoiding the problem?  Yes, but I’ve plenty of other things to occupy my mind as I try to fall asleep – like what did Han do with all that money?  Does he have a gambling problem?  Oh poor Chewbacca…


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)

Hutt Haiku Poems

The Hutts of Mataou

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

Heir to a Criminal Empire

Hutt Week: A Conclusion

Why Ziro’s My Hero

Guest Talker: Andrew (Partisan Cantina)

People might ask why Ziro the Hutt? To be honest I’ve no “silver bullet” answer to that question.

The main factor, if I were to pick one, is that he added some gloriously sinister razzmatazz to the closing of The Clone Wars movie when I saw it in the cinema. I’ve always loved characters that are truly wicked, yet have a comedy undertone. I see Ziro as playing a villain in the same guise as Cesar Romero’s Joker in the 1960s Batman TV show; slightly chilling amidst the laugh factor.

It’s not just his character-type that reminds me of DC’s The Joker. As many people who know me will be aware I have two central lifelong obsessions – Star Wars and DC comics.  Well think about how striking The Joker is. Part of that is his dress, and the predominance of the colour purple. Ziro is in turn striking as a purple Hutt; that’s right, read my lips, “a purple Hutt.”

joker
Cesar Romero as The Joker Photo Credit – Batman: The Movie (1966)

I don’t think this was a coincidence. Purple was the colour of Roman aristocracy, that’s because during that time period it was a rare colour made from a hard to find pigment. Because of its difficulty to find it has an unnatural and unusual quality. It was synonymous with a certain type of corrupt aristocracy, perhaps because of the decadence required in prioritizing an expensive colour dye in a garment over feeding and housing the plebs! Think of purple, and i’s associations with flamboyant behavior, excess and pride. Now think of Ziro.

In fact to veer off on a complete tangent (why not? Ziro would!) I think that if Ziro was to be aligned with any of Rome’s great Caesars it would have to be Nero, the last of the Julio-Claudian line. In my research for this pieceent fishing around for my old copy of Suetonius’ The Lives of the Twelve Caesars and after the briefest of perusals I would say that Nero, with his reputation for extravagance and excess would be a good parallel for Ziro.

Why do I say this? Well the Emperor Nero famously put personal gain ahead of family ties. He was suspected of poisoning his step-brother and almost definitely murdered his own mother (“charming to the last” to quote Tarkin), and spent time in brothels and taverns. Most famously, a keen amateur actor, he is remembered for being dressed in stage costume while singing a ballad called “The Sack of Illium” on an instrument called the lyre while Rome simultaneously burned around him. I don’t know about you but that sounds very Ziro-esque to me.

Now I know that The Imperial Talker made comparisons with The Mafia in his earlier piece so hopefully the Italian connection with The Hutts doesn’t get drawn out any further during #HuttWeek. Believe me when I say this Italian friends, there are plenty of Irish gangsters, but if you want to take offence, I apologize; blame the colour purple.

Anyway turning back again from Nero to Ziro (couldn’t resist that rhyme – I wouldn’t have been able to make that joke with Emperor Caligula would I?) and “all things purple,” obviously that colour has always been the choice of attire for DC’s clown prince of crime the infamous Joker, head of Gotham city’s Arkham residents. It isn’t only the Joker, though. Let’s play a quick game. Okay, think of Superman, The X-Men, the Transformers, Sleeping Beauty. Now think of what colour their main villain is clad in? You see? I was pre-programmed to love Ziro as a villain; it was love at first sight.

ZirotheHutt - Andrew
A splendid drawing of Ziro the Hutt courtesy of Guest Talker Andrew (@PartisanCantina)

As an aside, the purple pens required for my drawing of Ziro (see picture) from my nearby art supplies shop were also extremely hard to get in 21st century; apparently that was due to a worldwide shortage of pens caused by the adult “colouring-in” trend. A case of history repeating itself and perhaps a reminder that decadence is alive and well in the 21st Century.

In closing some other lesser reasons that helped determine my choice. Ziro as a character links in with the Black Sun, a crime organization (now certified canon!) that holds some fascination for me.

Finally, and it should not go unsaid, Ziro is the former lover of…wait for it…Sy Snootles – what a pairing! Who wouldn’t love him? Well apparently not Snootles who was sent back to Ziro as a honey trap set by Jabba to exact revenge for Ziro’s abduction of Jabba’s son, Rotta! A classic Ziro tale!

How can you not love this character I ask you? Enjoy Hutt Week and all of The Imperial Talker’s hard work!


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

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

Jabba the (CGI) Hutt

When I first started this site, I asked people to send me topic ideas for posts. While I had a number of my own ideas, reaching out to my first followers was a way to get them involved and to help me think of new avenues to approach the Star Wars universe. One individual – the same person who asked me to discuss the Sith Rule of Two – suggested that I write a piece that would focus on some of the major changes George Lucas made in the 1997 Special Edition of the Original Trilogy. Long story short, I have never really had a chance to dive into this topic, at least not in any substantive way other than some references/allusions in various posts. 

HanJabba
Han and ’04 Jabba have a little chat.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

With it being Hutt Week, I thought it’d be worth discussing one of the most obvious changes Lucas made in the Special Edition of A New Hope. The change came in the form of a scene where Han Solo is confronted by a CGI version of Jabba the Hutt in the docking bay of the Millenium Falcon. While this scene had originally been filmed with Harrison Ford speaking to a human actor who stood in for Jabba, it was ultimately left out of the movie’s theatrical release. Re-inserted after Solo has his confrontation with the bounty hunter Greedo, this scene basically boils down to Jabba and Han discussing the shipment Han had been transporting  for Jabba which the smuggler dumped. Han, the smooth-talker he is, works his way out of a potentially deadly situation by agreeing to pay Jabba a little extra (15%) on top of what he owes the crime lord. Satisfied with the arrangement, the Hutt warns the smuggler that if the money isn’t paid, there will be serious consequences.

For the sake of being entirely on the same page, you can FOLLOW THIS LINK and go watch the scene for yourself.

Now, when the Special Edition of A New Hope was released in 1997, I really didn’t think much of this scene featuring a CGI Jabba, at least not in any critical way. I was in 6th grade at the time and the chance to see the films on the big screen was a treat, an experience I had never had before. Besides, this scene involving Jabba speaking with Han was completely new, something that was not in the previous version of A New Hope I had grown up watching. In every sense of the word, this scene and these remastered films were truly “Special” to my younger self, and because of that youthful sentiment, I will always have a place in my heart for them.

However, while the Special Edition were a formative part of my childhood experience of Star Wars, this shouldn’t be taken to mean that today I believe they are flawless. In my opinion, they aren’t. While I can and do appreciate that George Lucas wanted to “reinvent” his films using graphic/visual effects unavailable to him when he first released the movies, and while some of these changes are truly magnificent, this hardly means that I believe everything that was added/changed was executed to perfection…which brings me back to our CGI crime lord.

 Jabba’s CGI variant in the ’97 Special Edition of A New Hope isn’t just poor, it’s atrocious. As a kid, I probably knew this and didn’t really care, but now that I am older, it is clear as day that Jabba looks ABSOLUTELY. FLIPPING. AWWWWWFUL. One need only look at the CGI ’97 Jabba next to the original Jabba from Return of the Jedi to see just how starkly different the two look. Oh wait, I put the images next to one another for you, so here they are…

Side-By-Side
Original Jabba (left); ’97 Jabba (right)

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope & Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

…like I said, awwwwwwwful. To be fair, there ARE similarities between the two, but the differences are so great it really makes you wonder – why was George Lucas okay with such a poor rendering of Jabba? Then again, I think this is a slightly unfair question. While I might not personally like this CGI variation of Jabba today, Lucas obviously saw value in the way the Hutt looked and was fine with it. However, before this turn into a full-fledged debate about who “owns” a piece of art – creator or consumer – it is worth noting that at some point after 1997, Lucas decided the CGI Jabba needed a tune-up. 

Actually, tune-up might not be the appropriate term. When A New Hope was released for the first time on DVD in 2004 (another Special Edition), Jabba the Hutt was completely recreated using CGI. The monstrosity from seven years before was completely erased from the Star Wars canon. This updated version of the Hutt was not only far superior in quality than its 1997 predecessor, much closer in likeness to the original Jabba in Return of the Jedi, but it also has a closer resemblance to the CGI Jabba that appears in The Phantom Menace. As you might be aware, this ’04 Jabba is also the one you will find in A New Hope to this day. While I do think this version remains imperfect – it has some odd, cartoonesque expressions – it’s at least a rendition that I can accept and actually believe to be the infamous crime lord. That ’97 version, not so much. My youthful self may not have cared about the way Jabba looked, but the adult me would have a hard time watching A New Hope if that eye sore still appeared on screen.

Episode1Jabba
Jabba at the Boonta Eve Classic.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Any way, for what it is worth, I do really like the CGI version of Jabba in The Phantom Menace. I’ve always enjoyed his brief appearance as the host of the Boonta Eve Classic, feeling that it was an appropriate way of fitting him into the Prequel Trilogy. Besides, as an added bonus, The Phantom Menace also gave us ANOTHER Hutt on the big screen, something I was definitely not expecting when I saw it the movie for the first time. Hmmmm, who knows, perhaps I will discuss this mystery Hutt in another post.

But I digress. I am curious to hear what you think about Jabba the CGI Hutt. I would enjoy knowing what YOU think about the ’97 and 2004 depictions of the notorious gangster, as well as other changes made in the (numerous) Special Editions. Leave a comment below (and don’t be afraid to disagree with me if you still enjoy the ’97 Jabba)!


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)

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

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.

Marlo_the_Hutt
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.

don-corleone
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.

HanCarbonite
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.

Hutt Hookah
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

Luke Blows Up Jabba’s Sail Barge

“Get the gun! Point it at the deck!”

In my last post, The Gamorrean Affair, I examined the scene in Return of the Jedi where Luke enters Jabba’s Palace and uses a Force Choke on a couple of Gamorrean Guards. What I argued in that piece was that Luke unequivocally uses the Dark Side when he chokes the Guards, an act that symbolically and literally ties him to his father, Darth Vader. You can go check out the entire post HERE and see everything I had to say about the incident.

While I had plans to move onto a non-Luke topic after writing that piece, I haven’t been able to get Luke and his interactions with Jabba out of my head.  But out of all of the comments and actions in those scenes, there was one moment in particular that really kept bugging me  – at the end of the battle over the Great Pit of Carkoon, Luke blows up Jabba’s Sail Barge.

Why has this been bothering me? Welllllll, because Luke makes the unilateral decision to kill everyone who is left on Jabba’s Sail Barge EVEN THOUGH some of those individuals pose zero threat to him and his friends. Now, this isn’t to say that no one left on the Sail Barge was a threat. In fact, we know that there were many loyal (or, at least, well-paid) followers of Jabba who were willing to fight on the Hutt’s behalf. But there were clearly individuals on the Sail Barge who were non-combatants like Saelt-Marae (aka Yak Face), and Max Rebo and his band. Did Rebo deserve to die just because he was playing music for Jabba ? Or Saelt-Marae just because he was willing to watch the execution of Luke, Han, and Chewie? I mean, we may not like their association with Jabba, but that is not reason for them to be killed.

Max-Rebo-Gif
Max Rebo on the Sail Barge
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

But the fact that they are killed leads me to ask a pretty straight-forward question: What possible justification did Luke have for blowing up the Sail Barge and killing everyone who was left on it?

As it stands, what we have on our hands is a really weird ethical and moral dilemma that involves Luke killing a lot of beings which effectively makes him guilty of multiple cases of manslaughter (or rather man/alienslaughter). And, along those lines, there is really no way of exonerating Luke for this crime. Then again, why would he should be exonerated? Is the hero of the story free to act however he wishes, killing indiscriminately just so his friends are safe?

“But Mr. Imperial Talker, Luke was fighting the bad guys!”

Why yes, I suppose he was, but when he kicks the trigger of the deck cannon, he is not under attack or being threatened. And besides,there were also innocent lives present on the vessel.

Saelt-Marae1
Saelt-Marae
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

“Right, there were innocent lives, but Luke wasn’t traveling on the Sail Barge, Mr. Imperial Talker, so he had no way of knowing about Max Rebo, or Saelt-Marae, or any other non-combatants who were present.”

A fair point, Luke wasn’t traveling on the Barge and would have no way of knowing about those non-combatants. But I must ask – should we defend Luke’s actions by defending his ignorance? I would suggest that being unaware of all the present beings means that he should be even MORE cautious with his actions. Because Luke doesn’t know who else is on the Sail Barge is precisely why he should not have made the decision to blow up the craft. For all he knows, Jabba’s young son could have been on the vessel.

“Yes, well, Luke was just caught up in the battle. When he orders Leia to ‘point it [the gun] at the deck’ the viewer is as caught up in the moment as Luke, immersed in the battle raging over the Great Pit of Carkoon. We are right there with Luke as he grabs a rope, takes hold of Leia, kicks the trigger, and swings to safety. Luke is just being heroic! We can’t fault him for being caught up in the moment, for just going with the flow of the fight to save his friends even if innocent beings die…right?”

Wrong. While we can applaud the fact that Luke rescues his friends, fighting to save them does not give him carte blanche to act however he wishes during the battle. His actions must be proportional and acceptable within the context of the fight. Plus, as a burgeoning Jedi, we should expect and anticipate Luke to be extra cautious with his decisions and actions. He should be aware not only of the possibility for innocent lives to be harmed, but must be cognizant of his own mental state, his emotions, his body, and his connection with the Force.

Luke on the Sail Barge
Luke battles on the Sail Barge
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

However, awareness is not enough — Luke must also be in control of himself. And for him to have that control, he must rely on his connection with the Light Side of the Force. Luke must allow the Light to wash over him, calming his mind, his feelings, his body. If and when he must fight, he must do so within a state that ensures he will maintain a calm and peaceful disposition. Mindful of himself, Luke must act in a way that ensures innocent lives are protected and any enemies are dealt with using appropriate and reasonable means.

But in the battle over the Great Pit of Carkoon, if Luke was so swept up in the fight, then he was not truly in control of his actions, he was not calm nor at peace. Ultimately, what this means is that he was not being guided by the Light Side of the Force.

“Perhaps he was aware and in control of his thoughts/actions and knew what he was doing during the battle. If so, was he being guided by the Light Side of the Force?”

No, and for a very simple reason – if one’s actions are truly guided by the Light Side, those actions will not lead to the death of innocent beings. Nor will those actions include the indiscriminate killing of one’s enemies just because one has the means to do so. This is precisely what sets the Jedi apart from the Sith, the Light apart from the Dark.

“So does this mean Luke was being guided by the Dark Side when he blows up Jabba’s Sail Barge?”

What I would suggest is that when Luke goes to rescue Han and the others from Jabba the Hutt, he has clearly not internalized the teachings he received from Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. He might fancy himself a Jedi, but blowing up the Sail Barge is unnecessary and taking the lives of countless beings is a clear indication that he is not guided by the Light and is NOT a Jedi.

As for being guided by the Dark Side, well, I will let you decide that one for yourself. Leave a comment and let me know what ya think.

The Seduction of the Dark Side

Guest Talker: Michael J. Miller

“You don’t know the power of the Dark Side,” Vader promises Luke during the climactic scene of The Empire Strikes Back. As Luke struggles to survive his encounter with the Sith Lord, both physically and emotionally, we see the central struggle of the Star Wars Saga once again – the struggle between the Light and the Dark…and the Dark looks like it’s winning. We see this play out through all six films, in Anakin, in Luke, and across the galaxy as a whole. It’s a struggle we share, and one that often gets the best of us. That is one of the most important parts of Star Wars as a modern myth. It’s meant not just to entertain us but to teach us as well.

We’re meant to connect to the myth, just as it masterfully connects to itself. With this in mind, a thought struck me as I read the first issue of Marvel’s (brilliant) Darth Vader comic. Whether this connection was intentional on the part of the author Kieron Gillen or not isn’t the point (although I’m pretty sure it was). The revelation hit regardless. The comic opens with Vader entering Jabba’s Palace for a negotiation. The whole thing feels very familiar, calling to mind the opening of Return Of The Jedi and Luke’s entrance to Jabba’s Palace. The gate raises. Vader decapitates two Gamorrean guards. He then forces an audience with Jabba where the Hutt warns him not to attempt any mind tricks.

Lord Vader chastises Jabba the Hutt. Photo Credit: MARVEL Comics - Darth Vader Issue # 001

Lord Vader chastises Jabba the Hutt.
Photo Credit: MARVEL Comics – Darth Vader Issue # 001

But a deeper connection came a few pages later. Jabba tells Vader, “Oh Jedi…always making everything so difficult.” Without hesitation Vader immediately cuts apart Jabba’s forces with brutal efficiency. Vader then proceeds to Force choke Jabba while warning, “You called me Jedi. You know nothing. Mind tricks are not of the Dark Side. We prefer force. Do you understand?” When Luke appears before Jabba to bargain for Han’s release four years later, Bib Fortuna confidently affirms, “He’s no Jedi.”

Yes, this is a condescending swipe at Luke. But, as with so many moments in Star Wars, this serves multiple purposes. Bib Fortuna is stating a very real truth. Luke is no Jedi. He has fallen quite far from the path and the opening pages of Darth Vader #1 illustrate that in a new (and brilliantly connected) way. Darth Vader shows Jabba, in no uncertain terms, the difference between the Jedi and the Sith. When Luke appears in the same spot years later, he acts as a Sith does. He is no Jedi.

In A New Hope, Obi-Wan taught Luke (and the viewer) much about the nature of the Force. In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda teaches Luke (and the viewer) what it means to be a Jedi. It is interesting to note that “Yoda” is Sanskrit for “warrior.” The diminutive Yoda is not what one would traditionally picture when you think of warrior. Yet, with his name, he is meant to symbolize the model in the Star Wars universe for the ideal warrior. This ideal warrior chides Luke for craving adventure and excitement. He tells Luke that “wars not make one great.”

On Dagobah, Yoda teaches Luke, “A Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the Dark Side. Anger. Fear. Aggression. The Dark Side of the Force are they. Easily they flow. Quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you it will. As it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”

Yoda teaches Luke about the Force. Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Yoda teaches Luke about the Force.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Anger. Fear. Aggression. Easily they flow…yet they will consume you. The Dark Side offers power – quick, easy, and strong. But it will take and corrupt you as payment. It is impossible to use the Dark Side without sacrificing all that is good in you. It seems like it can be helpful, that it can even be used to good ends. But that is an illusion, the seductive allure of the Dark Side.

We live in a culture where the Myth of Redemptive Violence reigns. We are taught, by the silent (and often sinister) voices of our culture that we can solve our problems, right wrongs, even defeat evil by using violent means. It is a challenge to even consider rejecting the Myth of Redemptive Violence, much less committing to and living out that rejection. It’s scary to reject the norms of culture. It’s also difficult to believe we can triumph over the forces of darkness in our world without violence and retribution. Luke poses the same questions to Yoda as they train.

Luke—“Is the Dark Side stronger?”

Yoda—“No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.”

Luke—“But how am I to know the good side from the bad?”

Yoda—“You will know when you are calm, at peace, passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never attack.”

Luke—“Tell me why I can’t…”

Yoda—“No, no! There is no ‘why.’”

Yoda refuses to even entertain the idea of using the Force for anything other than knowledge and defense. Anything else is of the Dark Side. Luke, like all of us, wonders why we can’t use it – from time to time – if our motives are pure and our cause is just. Why can’t we, to quote singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn, “kick the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight”? Because, Yoda would answer (traditionally with far more inverted syntax), that’s the Dark Side. Yet Luke can’t see this, as we learn when he reaches the cave.

Luke—“What’s in there?”

Yoda—“Only what you take with you. Your weapons…you will not need them.

Luke descends into the cave on Dagobah, weapons anchored around his waist.  Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Luke descends into the cave on Dagobah, weapons anchored around his waist.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Ignoring Yoda, Luke straps on his weapons belt and (quite symbolically) descends into the cave. He also takes in his anger, fear, hate, and self-doubt, illustrated (again, symbolically) by his weapons belt. These emotions take the form of Darth Vader because he is of the Dark Side and the Dark Side gets its strength from those very same emotions. This vision of Vader doesn’t draw his weapon or attack until Luke does so first. Therefore, Luke fails the test in the cave because he becomes the aggressor. He attacks. He gives in to the Dark Side.

Once Luke kills Vader he sees his greatest fear—his face in Vader’s helmet. This symbolizes what Luke may become. (It also symbolizes something Luke doesn’t know yet, that Vader is his father and they are both susceptible to the pull of the Dark Side.) Despite his failure at the cave, Luke still draws his lightsaber first when he’s confronted by Vader on Cloud City.

Vader toys with Luke in combat, goading him to let go of his hate as it’s the only way Luke can hope to defeat him. With Luke physically beaten, Vader reveals he is Luke’s father, breaking him spiritually and emotionally. He takes Luke’s hand as well as any sense of self Luke had.

Luke's face appears in the helmet of Darth Vader. Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Luke’s face appears in the helmet of Darth Vader.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

This all leaves Luke balancing on the precipice of the Dark Side – a place his father has stood before. So when Return Of The Jedi opens, it’s no surprise that Luke is acting as Darth Vader did in Jabba’s Palace. Vader is no Jedi. And, at that moment, Luke isn’t either. The struggle at the core of Star Wars continues to play out, in Luke as it did in Anakin a generation before…as it plays out in each of us every day.

Fear. Anger. Aggression. They feel omnipresent, in our world as well as in Star Wars, and they can often seem impossible to overcome. But they aren’t, as Luke shows us. Luke transcends the seductive pull of the Dark Side. He shows us what we are meant to be. We are called to so much more. “Luminous beings are we.” But if we believe that it’s impossible to transcend these violent forces, well that is why we fail.


Check out these other Guest Talker posts by Michael Miller:

The Nature of Hero

A Man in Debt to a Hutt

So, What’s Luke Been Up To?