Welcome to another installment of EUCantina’s opinion column, EU Action/Reaction! Twice per month, I tackle a specific Star Wars EU event that has garnered a significant reaction from Star Wars fans and offer my own view to further the discussion. Once you read the article, feel free to leave a comment and offer your own thoughts!
This week, I’ll discuss the upcoming Timothy Zahn novel that features an astounding 11 scoundrels pulling off an Oceans 11-inspired heist. But just who are these scoundrels?
We don’t know a whole lot about the upcoming Han Solo-centric novel. In fact, it doesn’t even have a title yet. All we have is a blurb:
The Death Star has just been destroyed and Han Solo still needs the money to pay off the bounty on his head. Now the opportunity to make that money and then some has walked into his life in the form of the perfect heist. With nine like-minded scoundrels, he and Chewbacca just might be able to pull it off and live to tell the tale!
Right off the bat, we know that two of the scoundrels are Han Solo and Chewbacca. So now it simply comes down to trying to discover the identity of the nine other scoundrels (and, for the sake of being thorough, let’s assume this is the oft-asked-for “Smuggler Novel” that some fans have been clamoring for lately – it just seems to fit the bill rather nicely. Oh, and Zahn created the Smugglers’ Alliance – something that could definitely show up in this upcoming book, given how much he likes to revisit his characters and creations). Well, there’s definitely no shortage of smugglers and scoundrels in the Expanded Universe, especially during this time period. For the sake of being rabid EU fans that enjoy connecting the dots, let’s also assume that NONE of these nine scoundrels are new characters. After all, why introduce someone new if there’s a perfectly good character that’s been waiting in the wings for a chance in the spotlight?
It’s probably easier to start with who is unlikely to join Han Solo’s crew. Given that Han’s crew is comprised of a bunch of “like-minded scoundrels,” we can assume that Han’s friends in the Rebellion won’t be joining in the fun. It’s also unlikely that he’ll have any bounty hunters on his crew. Han’s a wanted man at this point, and he is more likely to be ducking them. It’s not outside the realm of possibility to have the group dogged by a big name like Boba Fett or Cad Bane, but having them join his crew just smacks of a lack of realism. Although I’m a big fan of droids joining the cast, it seems unlikely that there are any out there that could be considered “scoundrels.” While Han and Chewie did maintain a friendship with Blue Max and Bollux, these droids would still be cataloging the treasures of Xim the Despot. At first glance, BoShek seems like a great addition to Han’s team of scoundrels – he’s Force sensitive, a smuggler, Corellian, and has a history with Han Solo. But he gave up his smuggling lifestyle after a fateful encounter with Obi-Wan Kenobi, and didn’t get involved in the Galactic Civil War again until he thrust into it almost a year after A New Hope – an encounter that ended with his imprisonment for this time period.
Lando Calrissian is also extremely unlikely to join Han’s ragtag group. As EU fans might remember, Han and Lando had a falling out in Rebel Dawn, when Bria Tharen double crosses Lando and Han’s friends. As a result of the betrayal, Lando punches out Han. The two don’t speak again until The Empire Strikes Back. Given the established timeline, Lando simply cannot be a member of Han’s group – unless Zahn decides to stretch continuity a bit for the inclusion. In addition to Lando, there are also two big-name Zahn original characters that can’t be members of Han’s group of scoundrels. Booster Terrik is serving a prison sentence on Kessel during this time, having been sentenced before A New Hope and not being released until after the events in The Empire Strikes Back. There’s rumblings that Lando is in the book, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s on Han’s heist team. In fact, maybe Han’s heist team targets Cloud City for their job, not even knowing that Lando runs the place. Jorj Car’das is also likely to be left out of the group, as he went into seclusion in 0 BBY. The likelihood that he would return to galactic events after just a few years of his disappearance to help Han Solo on a get-rich-quick scheme seems exceedingly unlikely. Oh, and remember Ghent? He’d be a great choice, right? A brilliant slicer and a Zahn creation would seem the perfect fit for the role of technical support… but Ghent would be just 12 years old during this story. It seems pretty unlikely he’d be in on the kind of heist that Han would need to pull off.
There are few characters in the Expanded Universe that better embody the spirit of a scoundrel than Vilmarh Grahrk. Villie, as he’s also known as, is a Devaronian smuggler that often teamed up with Quinlan Vos during the Clone Wars. He’s a character that hasn’t been seen since the prequel era, but he’s presumably still alive in this time period – provided his schemes haven’t gotten him killed yet. Villie is a great character: an unknown quantity that looks out for himself first, he’s an alien, and he’s great comic relief. He’d be a perfect addition to Han’s team, but only appearing in the Star Wars comics probably hurts his chances at making the jump to literature.
Col Serra could also fit into this story. Serra is a smuggler, and an old friend of Han’s that was introduced in Star Wars: Battlefront: Renegade Squadron for the PlayStation Portable. In other words, basically no one knows who this guy is. He could fit into the story, though. As an old friend, he’d be someone that Han could turn to. Han also recruits Serra into the Rebel Alliance, with the specific goal of having Serra recruit scoundrels, pirates, and other questionable characters into a team. This could be the story that finds Han making the offer to Serra. Or the guy could remain a video game character, doomed to an existence of never being heard from again.
Every team of scoundrels needs the old veteran, that wise guy who has been through it all. Zeen Afit would be perfect for that role, as he’s an older smuggler that first introduced Han to Smuggler’s Run. The biggest downfall with using Afit, though, is that he’s practically unknown. He shows up in the Han Solo Trilogy, and isn’t seen again until The New Rebellion. He can definitely fit into the story, it’s just a question of whether Zahn would find use in researching this character and utilizing him, or if it would just be easier to create a new character that could serve the same role.
Recruiting Bom Vimdin would be really great to see, as he’s an alien smuggler that appeared in the Mos Eisley Cantina. He’s got a vast wealth, and spies within the Empire and Alliance – and both would come in handy for a heist, especially a heist that is being organized by two very broke smugglers. Vimdin is also a recluse, preferring to work alone and being without friends. He’s the silent type, another integral archetype in the heist squad. The problem, though, is that Vimdin tended to take jobs that hurt the Rebellion. Would Han really partner with a character who was considered one of the Rebel’s most wanted beings? It seems doubtful, even with the resources that Vimdin would bring to the table.
Shug Ninx and Salla Zend could also appear, the former being more likely than the latter. Shug would still be operating the Spacebarn during this period of time, a facility on Nar Shaddaa where smugglers could modify their ships. As a mechanic, Shug’s skills would be a welcome addition to a heist team. Salla, on the other hand, is an ex-girlfriend of Han’s that eventually partnered up with Shug. The two would likely appear, if at all, as a pair. While Shug’s inclusion in the heist would make at least a modicum of sense, it’s hard to say if Salla would bring anything to the team – aside from being a distraction. Salla and Han already have a history at this point, and it seems unlikely that Zahn would waste time to highlight that history for the readers (the vast majority of whom would be completely unfamiliar to it).
The High Probabilities.
In all the excitement guessing who might join Han and Chewie’s ragtag team, it’s easy to forget that Zahn created the Smugglers’ Alliance in The Thrawn Trilogy. Zahn, of course, is famous for revisiting previously introduced characters, and this would be the perfect time to get a better sense of the characters behind this organization. The most influential smuggler (and scoundrel) that Zahn created was Talon Karrde. Karrde seems like a clear shoe-in at this point. He’s running Jorj Car’das’s organization at this point, and would have a wealth of contacts and information – all of which could be useful in a heist. The one drawback is that he supposedly didn’t mean Han until The Thrawn Trilogy, so it’d be a little tough for the two to meet before they’ve met. Now, Karrde was at least aware of Han prior to their meeting, so it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility that he could join Han’s crew under an assumed name. There’s always one member of the heist team that is more than they appear to be, and this could be Karrde’s role. Another interesting way to include him, though, could be for Han and his crew to rob Karrde’s organization. It would certainly be an intriguing twist!
Speaking of the Smugglers’ Alliance, it seems equally likely that Samuel Tomas Gillespee and Billey will also join the crew – both characters also created by Zahn. Gillespee is the head of a small smuggling group at this point, and also a friend of Karrde’s. If Karrde is involved with the heist team, you can expect that Gillespee will likely be a part of it too. If Karrde is joining the group under an assumed name, he’d need someone to vouch for him – and that could be Gillespee. Billey, on the other hand, could easily serve the role of technical support. Every heist needs a member that hangs back, and provides radio support. They monitor chatter, watch video feeds for the heist team – things like that. Billey, which a rather infamous smuggler at this point, ended up in a repulsorchair after a severe injury at an unknown time. If Billey has received his injury at this point, he’d be the perfect character to serve as a support member, given his inability to actually partake in the mission. Or perhaps this mission could be how he ends up injured. There’s plenty of possibilities, and both Billey and Gillespee are characters that seem due for a fun adventure.
Another shoe-in is Mirax Terrik. Sure, her dad is rotting in Kessel at this point, but Mirax is running Booster’s smuggling organization during this period of time. She’d also fulfill the female role, as every heist team has to have one lady. Having a young Mirax pulling a heist would be very fun to read, and an homage to her character in the Rogue Squadron series. At this point, Mirax is out to strike back at The Man. Her dad’s in prison, and she’ll need all the funds she can get to continue running his business and also trying to get him off Kessel. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a character as “like-minded” as Han Solo. Mirax would, simply put, be a perfect candidate for a scoundrel heist.
Finally, it seems likely that Dash Rendar will join Han’s team. Often considered the Han Solo clone, due to his inclusion in Shadows of the Empire, Dash has been fleshed out more in the recent Shadow Games thriller. Now that he seems to be fair game for authors to use, it would be fun to see Dash used more often. It also gives Zahn an opportunity to offer a glimpse into Dash’s life in the days before The Empire Strikes Back completely changed him. Yes, it would be fairly simple for Zahn to include the smuggler, who is every bit as much a scoundrel as Han. Dash even has the Outrider, which would make for a great companion ship to the Millennium Falcon during this heist. And hey, it’s the perfect opportunity to include (the always hilarious) Leebo into another Expanded Universe novel – and that’s something all fans should be demanding.
So there you have it. Out of the 11 scoundrels, I’m confident that we already know the identity of seven of them. What do you think? Are there any characters that were left out, or that you think should make the list? Let us know in the comments!