Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr This year marks the 40th anniversary since the release of the original STAR WARS film on May 25th, 1977. This month, writers at ComicsVerse will be bringing you our insights on all things STAR WARS as we look at where the series has been and where it will take us next in the galaxy far, far away… Welcome to the STAR WARS Character Spotlight. To the Star Wars fans who only know the movies: you’re missing out. There are hundreds of characters, planets, and stories just waiting for you in a galaxy far, far away that you have yet to discover. From books and comics to TV shows and video games, there’s a ton of canon material ripe for the picking. READ MORE: Interested in the Expanded Universe? Learn more about why Lucasfilm went in another direction with THE FORCE AWAKENS! Unfortunately, some of my favorite characters are no longer canon. There are even more characters that have influenced and shaped STAR WARS if you check out the Legends Universe, previously called the Expanded Universe. In the wealth of material produced and authorized by Lucasfilm, there are stories and characters galore to suit any taste. So in this edition of Character Spotlight, we’re going to talk about Anakin Solo, hands down the coolest Solo. Anakin is tragically not in THE FORCE AWAKENS, but he is a much better character than Kylo Ren (fight me). His story in the Legends Universe is not one to miss. Shadows Anakin is, of course, the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia. He has two older siblings, the twins Jaina and Jacen. Anakin is not born into a peaceful galaxy. Despite all the battles that have taken place, the Rebellion has still not completely defeated the Empire. Anakin is the subject of a plot to revive the Emperor; he is nearly used as a vessel for the Emperor to transfer his consciousness into. Yeah, no pressure or anything. This early darkness haunts Anakin throughout his life. He also struggles with the burden of his name. Leia calls him Anakin in a move to express her forgiveness of her father. She also hopes that her son will redeem the name. However, Anakin struggles to figure out what his name means for him. Is he destined to go down the same path? Centerpoint Anakin does share some similarities with his namesake. He is incredibly technologically inclined, able to manipulate and fix technology even as a toddler. This does create some problems, however. When the Corellian Crisis begins, Anakin is with his siblings on Drall. They discover that agents are trying to uncover something buried under the planet’s surface. The children investigate because of course, they do, they’re Han Solo’s kids. Anakin finds a large repulsor unit and its keys to his biological signature. This is a big problem. The Corellians are trying to activate Centerpoint Station, a massive gravitational device that may have been used to create the Corellian system. They need to activate the repulsors, but this one is keyed to Anakin. Threepio always looks terrified, but here it’s warranted. In the end, it is thanks to Anakin and his technological prowess that the Corellian Crisis is averted. There was an attempt to use Centerpoint’s gravitational well as a weapon of mass destruction. Anakin was able to work with a team to disable Centerpoint (though he got cranky, as young children will, and put everything in jeopardy). Jedi Praxeum Like his siblings, Anakin eventually went to the Jedi Praxeum on Yavin IV to begin his Jedi training. He quickly became friends with Tahiri Veila, a young orphan from Tatooine who was raised by Tusken Raiders. The two have many adventures. One of their adventures involved the Golden Globe (not that one). By the time A NEW HOPE takes place, Yavin IV had long been abandoned by sentient life — or so they thought. The Sith Lord Exar Kun had trapped his soul on Yavin IV, and he attempted to take over the minds of Luke’s first students at the Praxeum. Corran Horn eventually defeated exar Kun, but he left behind an ugly legacy. He had trapped the souls of Massassi children in the Golden Globe. CLICK: Corran is a pretty cool guy. Read all about his adventures here! Anakin and Tahiri began having visions of the Globe and went out to find it. They also found Ikrit, an ancient Jedi Master who had sworn to protect the Globe until the souls could be freed. Force-sensitive children could only free them. Eventually, Anakin and Tahiri were able to break the Globe and free the Massassi children’s souls. Ikrit, now released from his self-imposed exile, joined the New Jedi Order and formed a strong bond with Anakin. Vector Prime Anakin’s story picks up when the Yuuzhan Vong invades the galaxy. The Solo children are now teenagers and beginning to sort out their identities as adults, as individuals, as Jedi, and as Solos. All three display a remarkable skill in piloting, though Jaina excels. When the Vong attack the system where they are, they use a Force-meld to fly as a single unit, decimating the Vong and surviving a run that would have (and has) killed many adults. This is a remarkable display of Force talent. Anakin, top and center. As he should be. Anakin’s story begins with tragedy, however. Anakin accompanies Han and Chewbacca to Sernpidal, which is under attack from a strange gravitational weapon that is pulling Sernpidal’s moon down. They desperately attempt to evacuate the entire planet, while Anakin attempts to destroy the weapon. It is too late, though; the moon is already in orbit and will crash anyway. Han is desperately cramming as many aliens into the Falcon as he possibly can. Anakin is nearly left behind, but Chewie jumps after him and throws him into the ship. Chewie, unfortunately, is left on the planet. Anakin is swamped with guilt over the fact that Chewie died saving him. This is not made any better by Han, who lashes out at his son. Han goes into a downward spiral and abandons his family. While he eventually returns, his relationship with Anakin is irrevocably changed. The experience changes Anakin himself. He has a new gravitas. He’s not a simple fifteen-year-old anymore. Philosophy Anakin’s relationship with his brother Jacen is also complicated during this time. Jacen is incredibly introspective and struggles to understand the true nature of the Force. Anakin does not think the Force is too complicated; he views it much as he does his lightsaber, as a tool to be wielded for good. Jacen is not so sure and thinks that the Jedi should be less active and more passive. Anakin sees things as more clear-cut. People are dying, and he can prevent that. He is willing to use the Force to save as many people as possible, especially after Sernpidal. Anakin accompanies his aunt Mara Jade Skywalker to Dantooine. Mara is infected with a deadly virus and hopes to find relief by escaping the war on Dantooine. Anakin is resentful, feeling that he has been given a babysitting mission when other young Jedi had more glorious missions. Luke explains that Anakin has been given an incredibly important mission — watching over and protecting Luke’s wife. READ MORE: Want to learn more about Mara Jade? Check out this article! On Dantooine, Mara chastises Anakin for his use of the Force. He uses the Force for every little thing, and Mara challenges him to use the Force less. She pushes him to understand that the Force is not just a simple tool. The Force is far more complicated than that. Further, she tells Anakin that the Force is not a servant to him simply because he is powerful; rather, he serves the Force. Mara’s gentle challenge works better than Jacen’s lectures. Anakin begins to see her point of view. Centerpoint Revisited Anakin ends up receiving a much more thorough challenge. The Vong unexpectedly invade Dantooine. Anakin goes on a heroic mission to save slaves but is captured and tortured. He is forced to confront his failures and reevaluate his philosophy directly. He thought he could be the hero, but he ends up causing more harm. CLICK: Ahsoka Tano is another character determined to be a hero. Don’t know who she is? You should! Anakin struggles to face the consequences of his failures. He is haunted by Chewie’s death and his failure at Dantooine. His internal struggle becomes an object of galactic importance when Centerpoint is reactivated. The weapons on the station could be used to destroy a Vong fleet, but it is still keyed to Anakin, so he needs to fire. Jacen confronts him, telling him that this is a violation of the living Force. In the end, Anakin chooses not to use the weapon, but it is fired anyway. It ends up destroying a Hapan battle fleet that was coming to help the New Republic. Anakin tells Jacen that he could have aimed it properly and saved the Hapans. The rift between him and Jacen grows wider. At the same time, the anti-Jedi sentiment is filling the galaxy, and Anakin feels like he could have helped. Praxeum Revisited The anti-Jedi sentiment is fueled by the Peace Brigade, humans who have allied with the Vong. They decide that they can get in good with their new bosses by handing them a bunch of young Jedi. The Vong have an intense hatred of the Jedi after several interactions where a Jedi has defeated them. They have put out a bulletin that they will cease violent actions if the Jedi are handed over (which is false, but it helps their ends by creating more discord). The New Republic, responding to political pressure, takes no action when the Peace Brigade attacks the Praxeum on Yavin IV. Anakin, still not over his dashing hero tendencies, rushes off to save the students, many of whom are his personal friends. He finds the planet in chaos. The Peace Brigade has led the Vong to the planet, and now the Peace Brigade is desperately trying to capture the Jedi children first so that they still get paid. Meanwhile, the children are putting up a resistance. That’s Ikrit. Yes, a cat became a Jedi Master. In the fight to get the students off-planet, Anakin must face his distorted reflection in their actions. Following his heroic antics, several of the children see the battle as grand and glorious. He can get the children off-planet, but in the process loses Ikrit. Ikrit tells Anakin that he and Tahiri are prophesied to create something new and great. Ikrit sacrifices himself to save the children. Anguished, Tahiri attempts to save him and is captured. Riina Kwaad Anakin will not leave Tahiri behind and knows that he will have to use new tactics to save her. The Vong have created a complex on the planet, and the place is crawling with Vong warriors. If he rushes in all brash and reckless, he will either die or end up captive with Tahiri. This would be a terrible thing because what the Vong have in mind for Tahiri is dreadful. The complex on the planet is full of shapers, Vong bio-scientists that create all their biotech. The Vong are unique in that they have no connection to the Force. They are both repulsed and entranced by the Jedi and seek to shape their own Jedi creation, which is why they were seeking the Jedi children. Tahiri after her shaping. Tahiri is the focus of their experiment. Through biotechnology, psychology, and torture, Master Shaper Mezhan Kwaad converts Tahiri. She convinces Tahiri that she was a Vong child that was captured by the Tusken Raiders and taken from her rightful people. Her “real” name is Riina Kwaad. They encourage her to use the Force, thinking that if they can isolate areas in her brain that activate when she uses the Force, they can replicate the effects. Tahiri struggles against their brainwashing, lashing out and attempting to kill them. However, the physical torture takes its toll. She begins to lose who she is. Vua Rapuung Luckily, Anakin has not lost sight of Tahiri. He is determined to rescue her, and does so in a novel way — he teams up with a former Vong warrior. The warrior, Vua Rapuung, is what is known as “Shamed.” The Vong use bio-enhancements for both practical and aesthetic purposes. When a Vong’s body rejects the implants, they are seen as lower and repugnant. The Vong seek to emulate their gods, so a Shamed Vong is seen as rejected by the gods. Rapuung insists that he is not truly Shamed. He was a grand warrior who engaged in a secret tryst with Mezhan Kwaad. When he leaves her, she causes his enhancements to fail and creates the impression that he is Shamed. He is now on a quest to redeem himself. He seeks to force Mezhan to admit he is not truly Shamed. Anakin and Rapuung (right). Rapuung is willing to work with Anakin to achieve his goals, even though this is an abomination. Rapuung and Anakin can achieve together results that would be impossible alone. Anakin has an extra advantage. He uses Vong biotech crystals to fix his lightsaber, and this gives him the ability to (vaguely) sense the Vong, something that no other Jedi can do. Mezhan Kwaad is accused of heresy for her experiments on Tahiri. To get to her before she leaves, Rapuung fights through swaths of warriors, proving that he is every bit as strong and powerful as he was before his “shaming.” Anakin attempts to reach Tahiri, who is still convinced she is Riina. Jeedai Heresy Mezhan Kwaad proclaims that there are no gods, that there is no heresy, and that she is the one who Shamed Rapuung. She is drunk on her own power and kills her captors. However, now that she has admitted Rapuung is not Shamed, he is seen as a warrior again. His honor reinstated, he goes out in a blaze of glory, killing fellow Vong to allow Anakin to escape with Tahiri. This is a major issue. The other Shamed Vong see that Rapuung was redeemed by working with a Jedi. They begin to spread ideas about the falsehood of “shaming.” If the gods did not reject Rapuung, the same might be true for them. They also see that Rapuung was not rejected for working with Anakin, but rather granted honor. CLICK: The Jedi are seen as actors for the gods. Read about the Force-Witches of Dathomir and their magic! Whispers spread throughout Shamed communities. They are used as manual laborers and mostly ignored. This works in their favor. They whisper of the Jeedai and how it will set them free. This Jeedai heresy allows for a Shamed uprising that manages to help the galaxy repulse the Vong. In the end, Anakin’s willingness to work with Rapuung leads to the end of the conflict… not that he’ll see it. Myrkr After his exploits on Yavin IV, Anakin’s star is higher than ever. He grows into his place as a role model and leader. He has matured, in more ways than one. Dealing with Tahiri brings up an interesting issue…hormones. Anakin is suddenly faced with the reality that Tahiri is no longer a child, and romantic feelings grow. She reciprocates, but fears what the Vong did to her will interfere with living a normal life. Anakin helps her deal with Riina and shows her love and trust. At the same time, more determined than ever to eradicate the Jedi, the Vong go to Myrkr. One of the planet’s native species, the vornskr, hunts using the Force. The Vong create a new creature from the vornskr — the voxyn. Suddenly they have a way to hunt Jedi, and they begin a campaign of slaughter. Anakin leads a mission of young Jedi to kill the voxyn queen. This would cripple the Vong’s abilities to hunt them. The Jedi go to Myrkr full of hope and terror. Both are warranted. They struggle through, essentially, an obstacle course of death. Several Jedi are killed on the mission. Heroics are just a part of the Solo genes. This includes Anakin. The remaining team members are being overwhelmed and struggle to find an exit. They are surrounded, and Anakin tells the others to complete the mission, saying that he will hold the Vong off. Tahiri tells him he has to return for a kiss, something she will regret for the rest of her life. Anakin does not return. Surrounded by Vong, he becomes something more than he was. He opens himself fully to the Force and becomes a vessel for its power, engulfed in white light. He goes out in a blaze of glory. Legacy Anakin Solo had always struggled with the legacy he inherited, but the legacy he leaves is something greater. Burdened by his name and his family’s past, Anakin always feared the dark side. In the end, he becomes a beacon of the light side of the Force. He is remembered by friends and family as strong, confident, and powerful. He is also remembered as someone who loved fiercely and gave freely of himself. The aftermath of Anakin’s death is massive. Jacen is captured on the mission and brought to the Vong as an offering. He is repeatedly tortured and begins to doubt his understanding of the Force. He had always struggled to understand what the Force is, and how to live on the light side and avoid the dark. In his captivity, Jacen begins to think that there isn’t a light or dark side. His ruminations are a step towards his eventual dark end. Jaina is suddenly the only Solo child left (as Jacen is presumed dead). She is bitter and violent and almost gives in to the dark side. She is eventually able to work through her grief and strengthen her ties to her family. Jaina uses Vong tech and begins a campaign of psychological warfare, making the Vong think their gods had abandoned them. She grows in power and prestige, but no longer feels the call of the dark side. The one that got away. Tahiri is tormented by her refusal to kiss Anakin goodbye. She struggles more than ever with Riina, now that Anakin is not there to help. In the end, however, she can use her Vong side to bring a stop to the conflict. She is a bridge for the two parties to reach an understanding. Kylo Ren So let’s face the truth: Anakin is so much better than Kylo Ren. I always thought Anakin was the best Solo. When I first read the New Jedi Order, I was a brash, loud, confident teenager, so I identified with him. I loved the relationship between him and Tahiri. I liked Jaina, but she wasn’t someone I could identify with. And Jacen was far too moody and contemplative. Now that we have the new STAR WARS trilogy, I’d gladly take Jacen. Ben Solo, from what we’ve seen so far, pales in comparison to Anakin Solo. Ben Solo is whiny and falls into the pattern of his grandfather. This was something that Anakin dealt with his entire life, but he saw the truth of his name — Anakin Skywalker was a good person that was redeemed in the end. Ben Solo, on the other hand, idealizes the worst part of Skywalker’s life. He also disregards the ultimate lesson, that light wins out in the end. CLICK: Looking forward to THE LAST JEDI? So are we! Read ComicsVerse’s take on the trailer! Kylo Ren’s unnecessary mask and idolization of his grandfather don’t make sense, in the long run. Lucasfilm is disregarding their own well-developed and interesting stories for a rehash of what we already know. They could have presented an interesting look at how the Jedi Order developed, but instead, we get a wannabe-Darth Vader who kills all the students, again. We get a hermit who teaches an orphan from a sand-planet who doesn’t know their past, again. The Best Solo Even the name is wrong. Given the connection to Darth Vader and the awkward way they avoid saying Kylo’s name for most of the movie, I was all set for the big reveal. It made sense to be Jacen since in the books Jacen becomes a Sith (oops, spoiler). But Anakin also made sense, to underscore the connection to Vader. Why Ben? It makes no sense, and it was just the straw on the camel’s back. When Han yells out “Ben!” across the bridge, I was so disappointed. I came into the movie all set to see what Lucasfilm had in store, but they completely and utterly trashed everything they already had. Don’t get me wrong. I still love STAR WARS. I enjoyed THE FORCE AWAKENS. And I loved ROGUE SQUADRON. And you can bet I’ll be there opening night to see THE LAST JEDI. But why did we have to get rid of such wealthy and compelling characters? Kylo Ren is a washed-out Darth Vader wannabe in a cape. It’s like he’s cosplaying his grandfather. Yeah, I fully admit I had a crush. Anakin Solo — Anakin Solo was something else. Anakin was a teenage boy who became a man in the midst of terrible galactic war. He fought against a new and terrifying villain without losing faith in what’s good and right. He leads others, instead of destroying them. Anakin wore his name like a badge of remembrance, a message of redemption, rather than disregarding the ultimate lesson of Anakin Skywalker’s name. Anakin Solo was a dashing hero and a stupid teenager. He made mistakes and learned from them, had an awkward first kiss and fell in love, and went out in a blaze of glory. Why did we have to lose that?