The Star Wars Expanded Universe (now known as the “Legends canon”) was full of ambitious storytelling, but the Star Wars: Legacy comics by Dark Horse Comics were arguably the most ambitious of all. Before the new canon and Marvel taking over the reigns of Star Wars comics, it was Dark Horse that had the honor of giving the Skywalker saga one last epic adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Now that Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker has given an official end to the Skywalker saga, it seems like a good time to revisit the original end for that destined family.
“Running away from your responsibilities won’t solve anything!”
Set over a hundred years after the Battle of Endor, Legacy follows Cade Skywalker, Luke’s direct descendant, on his remarkable journey against the Sith-ruled New Galactic Empire. Cade is more Han Solo than Luke Skywalker (literally scruffy-looking).
Cade barely survives the near-extinction of the New Jedi Order at Ossus, but suffers the trauma of watching his father die right in front of him. Fueled by his fear of loss, Cade uses the dark side of the Force to heal his dying Master Wolf Sazen. Flying out on a suicide run so that the other Jedi can escape, the Jedi believe Cade to be killed in action. In reality, Cade is found by pirates. He abandons his life as a Jedi Padawan for a new one in the galaxy’s criminal underworld. All the while, the Force ghost of Luke Skywalker tries in vain to mentor Cade back to the Jedi ways.
Cade is much closer to Anakin in personality than any other Skywalker. His trauma and fear of loss have made him bitter and angry. Often processing this trauma with a death-stick addiction, Cade consistently refuses to confront his destiny as a Skywalker. So much so that Cade actively hunts down his fellow Jedi. He captured Hosk Trey’lis and turned the Jedi healer over to the Sith for a considerable bounty.
In addition to an antihero for a Skywalker protagonist, Legacy offered a colorful (in some cases, literally) variety of allies and enemies. There’s Delilah Blue (Zeltron ship mechanic and Cade’s lover), Darth Krayt (the new Emperor and Dark Lord of the Sith), and Antares Draco (the arrogant leader of the Imperial Knights). In addition, there’s Shado Vao (Twi’lek Jedi Knight and Cade’s childhood best friend) and Grand Moff Nyna Calixte (the ambitious head of Imperial Intelligence). Emperor Roan Fel (the deposed and rightful Emperor), Admiral Gar Stazi (the heroic Duros commander of the remnants of the Galactic Alliance), and more.
Despite Cade’s reluctance and anger, he soon finds himself at the center of Darth Krayt’s schemes. The Dark Lord of the Sith is secretly dying, and soon his body will become completely encrusted in plates of bone-like coral. Cade’s healing ability might be the only thing that can save the self-proclaimed Emperor.
“I have broken the spine of the galaxy.”
The politics of Legacy are delightfully complex. As we see in the sequel trilogy, Luke builds a New Jedi Order and Leia builds a New Republic. Unlike the films, the Empire technically lives on as the Imperial Remnant (but without an Emperor), and the New Republic is in control of the vast majority of the galaxy.
Then came the Yuuzhan Vong. A species of extra-galactic invaders with strange biotechnology from a distant galaxy, the Yuuzhan Vong utterly conquer the New Republic. The Republic’s remnants reorganize as a “Galactic Alliance” and, with an uneasy alliance with the Imperial Remnant, defeats the Vong. At the behest of the Jedi, the Galactic Alliance exiles the Yuuzhan Vong to the planet Zonama Sekot as punishment.
This truce lasts for a hundred years. Though the Galactic Alliance remains the dominant galactic power, the Imperial Remnant reorganizes into a new Empire. Said Empire is led by new Emperor Jagged Fel (whose Empress is, ironically, Jaina Solo: daughter of Rebel heroes Han Solo and Leia Organa). Behind the scenes, Darth Krayt takes advantage of this brewing cold war. Framing the Vong for a galaxy-wide ecological crisis, the new Sith watch as the Alliance descends into in-fighting about how to deal with the Vong.
When the Jedi proclaim the Vong’s innocence and the Alliance supports the Jedi’s decision, the Moff Council of the Fel Empire uses a loophole in a mutual defense treaty to declare war on the Yuuzhan Vong and any of their allies. This now includes the Galactic Alliance. Against Emperor Roan Fel’s direct orders, the Fel Empire goes to war against the Galactic Alliance (with the hardliner Moffs eager to finally defeat the “Rebels” once and for all). At the end of the Sith-Imperial War, Darth Krayt assassinates Emperor Fel and claims the Imperial throne for himself.
However, Roan Fel used a body double and manages to escape the coup alive. On the run, Fel begins waging a rebellion (ironic) to reclaim his throne.
“There is a Skywalker. And he is powerful in the Force…”
And this is just how Cade’s journey begins! As the war against the Sith rages on, Cade struggles to reforge his connection to the Force and find the light within himself. In a way, Anakin really is the perfect foil for Cade. It shows that the mistakes of the past do not decide our future. Now, more than ever, that’s a powerful message to encourage.
Legacy is unique among Star Wars stories for moving forward with an original tale while still building on the fundamentals that make Star Wars so special. There are Jedi (like their fathers before them), scoundrels, and even a princess. However, where Legacy keeps some conventions, it plays around with others. The new Skywalker doesn’t want to save the galaxy and the new Empire (or at least Fel’s Empire) is fairly benevolent. In addition, the new Sith are all about obedience rather than personal power.
By far the most interesting character dynamic is between Cade and Krayt. At first, Krayt isn’t very interesting as a villain. He’s very grandstanding in “evil for the sake of being evil,” all while claiming it’s for the “greater good” of the galaxy. However, as the series progresses, the reader finally understands the core of Krayt’s character – control. Krayt wants to control everything and everyone. While he claims it’s to bring “order” to a “chaotic” galaxy, we realize that his motivations aren’t too different from Cade. Fear of loss, bitter at being abandoned by those he trusted, and angry at those he feels wronged him. Krayt is if Cade took his desire for control over his own destiny and turned it into an obsession. Having a villain who is the worst possible version of your hero is a great character foil.
How does it all end? Does Cade defeat Darth Krayt? Will Cade fall to the dark side like so many Skywalkers before him? For those who didn’t find The Rise of Skywalker as satisfying as they had hoped, Legacy might be that hope that you needed. You can find Star Wars: Legacy as individual issues and trade paperbacks at Your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Book Store, as well as at Dark Horse Comics and Amazon. Today and every day, May the Fourth be with you!
This article was originally published 5/4/20