Disney Investor Day 2020 and earlier chatter promise that Disney will be feeding us Star Wars stories for a long time to go. For newer Star Wars fans and those who have not ventured outside the films, this might seem to be overwhelming overkill, but it’s really not new for Star Wars. As Wookieepedia can attest, Star Wars has never stopped producing lore across various media, including books, comics, toys, and video games. With the Disney+ streaming platform, focusing on the visual medium is an obvious choice going forward for the corporate monster. And because of all that vast lore available, there are lots more stories to mine, even if Disney has officially written off the original expanded universe.
But they haven’t written off all of it. If Grand Admiral Thrawn can live on—now in his own series of books and comics and potentially as the foil to Ahsoka Tano in her new show—so too can Cade Skywalker. After all, if there’s anything J.J. Abrams taught us by firmly tying everything back to bloodlines, there’s no forgetting about these Skywalkers, even if Cade himself would be fine if we did.
Cade Skywalker’s story takes place within the pages of Star Wars Legacy, a 50+-issue comic series co-written by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema and penciled mostly by Duursema. Published by Dark Horse Comics beginning in 2006, the series sets itself over 100 years after the destruction of the first Death Star in a time when, shockingly, the stars are still warring. Sith are still sithing, Jedi are still being moral high horse dumbasses, and the Imperials and Republic are still up to their political shenanigans.
Legacy introduces several other characters, many of whom seem to fit into the Star Wars archetypes we have grown used to, such as the cocky pilot, plucky princess, a few droids, conniving Moffs, deadly Sith, and, of course, a Skywalker.
Grounding itself firmly in what and who we know about the Star Wars universe, it initially seems like it’s going to retread familiar ground in its storytelling. Ostrander wanted to make it clear that, despite being rooted in Star Wars traditions, Legacy was indeed something new, brandishing the tagline, “All new Sith Order! All new Empire! All new Skywalker!” The story certainly does stick to some of the basics (such as the fate of the galaxy riding on a Skywalker deciding to be Jedi or Sith), but it quickly ventures off into new territory that makes me and the small pocket of other people who love Legacy clamour for more. What better opportunity than yet another new Star Wars series for our viewing pleasure?
Who Is Cade Skywalker?
Cade Skywalker is trash.
There are lots of shitty people in the Skywalker bloodline (many of whom are dudes… go figure.) Anakin is a petulant manchild whose trauma is never addressed by the Jedi Council, allowing Palpatine to easily manipulate him and them. Ben Solo is also a petulant manchild who is easily manipulated by Snoke. This is because Luke is as arrogant as Yoda in his attempts to re-form the Jedi without knowing how to appropriately deal with truly powerful Force wielders by not relying on texts grounded in making people suppress their emotions.
Unlike the other Skywalker failures, Cade knows what he is and the writing doesn’t try to paint him as anything otherwise. He runs from his trauma and his legacy through drug addiction and turns a tidy profit as a smuggler and a bounty hunter who targets Jedi.
Born to a Jedi father and a mom who abandoned him, Cade was raised in a Jedi temple that eventually fell to a Sith-Imperial attack that saw his father, Kol, killed, and his master on death’s door. Using his considerable ability, Cade drew on the Force to save Master Wolfe Sazen. In the story, it is implied that he draws on the power of the Dark Side to achieve this, which, along with the trauma of seeing everything he loved destroyed, shatters his belief in his Jedi teachings, much to Force ghost Luke Skywalker’s chagrin.
Why Should You Care about Cade Skywalker?
We loves us an anti-hero in this day and age, and the Star Wars universe needs more of them, even if it’s one that is once again bound to that precious Skywalker name. Oh sure, Anakin and Ben eventually got their “redemption” moments and stories have and are being told about their respective journeys, but both of them are too firmly grounded in black and white—or rather, the Light and Dark Sides of the Force—and both of them end up in the same place in the end. The Star Wars expanded universe stories have provided ample opportunities to explore what lies between the extremes when it comes to the Force, and Cade is the perfect character to do this with.
Where Ben and Anakin know how to use their powers forcefully, Cade has mastered his abilities with more subtlety. When he’s not suppressing the Force with deathsticks, he’s mastered the art of walking the line, committing to neither Light nor Dark aspects. Furthermore, though he runs away from his inner turmoil and uses drugs for control, he’s mastered himself well enough not to have tantrums and sulky pouting as part of his prominent character traits.
In short, Cade holds his own as a character in a way that Anakin and Ben don’t. On their own, their unappealing manchildness and overt use of their powers stand out, but not necessarily in a good way that offers any depth beyond adolescent trauma that has never been dealt with. A Clone Wars that solely focused on Anakin without giving the audience Ahsoka, Ben Kenobi, and the clones would not have been effective at making viewers care enough about a character that only had that trauma and his known fate going for him. I can’t say I missed him during the final season where he was largely absent and the focus shifted to Ahsoka, a far more appealing and well-rounded character.
Cade does have many supporting characters, many of whom get their own storylines as well, but when he’s on his own, well, he’s a perfectly tolerable main character. The good kind of trash. We just need an actor who can manage that smug, sardonic, cavalier attitude, questionable morals, and seething-just-beneath-the surface-rage-and-guilt. Then add a director who can guide the necessary depth and development that makes his journey through Legacy so compelling.
Star Wars has always been a dark, traumatic war saga wrapped in a children’s adventure. Delving into Cade Skywalker’s story would be an excellent opportunity to take a much more mature approach. With the influx of titles soon to be available to everyone over the coming years, would it kill Disney to aim one of those titles solely at an adult audience?
What’s Going on in Cade’s World?
The no-longer-canonical Yuuzhan Vong War shapes much of the background of Star Wars: Legacy. This alien species was introduced by Del Rey Publishing as a protagonist well beyond the Sith. Using biotechnology and possessing a resistance to the Force, they were a formidable foe. In Legacy’s history, they were eventually defeated through the combined efforts of the Galactic Alliance and the Imperial Remnants. That shakey yet long-lasting alliance remains in place now, but the legacy of the Yuuzhan Vong’s influence and technology also remains. As does the Sith poking their nose in things and disrupting efforts to better the galaxy. Their meddling tears the truce apart and sees the return of the Galactic Empire.
Though the Yuuzhan Vong aspect may not work in the new Star Wars expanded universe, a series that takes place well into the future can do whatever it wants to define its new power structures. Star Wars: Legacy gives us a complex political structure wherein neither side is necessarily good or bad. They are basically two parties vying for control, brought together through war, then torn apart by the overt evil of the Sith.
Though the Star Wars prequel films muddled the political perspective, I have grown to appreciate George Lucas’ attempt to provide that level of detail to his space fantasy. I am subsequently thankful that more strategic minds were able to run with the material he provided to add the necessary depth we see in stories like The Clone Wars animated series. Legacy works similar magic, exploring the politics through squabbling moffs, spies, sabotage, space cops, and some impressive stellar battles that are worthy of the Star Wars name.
Who Are the Other Players?
“Through deliberate use of things like foreshadowing, and the slow development of its massive ensemble, [Star Wars: Legacy] goes to places that other Star Wars stories couldn’t,” writes Jacob Hill for Multiversity. While Cade is the star of the show, bound to his Skywalker legacy, the setting opens the door for many other characters to develop in their own right and connect in unexpected ways.
Cade is accompanied by a team that includes his best friend, weapons expert, and co-pilot, Jariah Syn. There’s loyalty in their relationship, but animosity as well, as Syn’s history involves losing a family member to a Jedi. Deliah Blue is a Zeltron party girl who has set aside her partying to serve as mechanic on Cade’s ship, the Mynock. Alas, the one broken thing she can’t fix is Cade himself, no matter how much she loves him.
Cade does have a few family members in play as well. His half-sister has her own struggles to deal with in trying to prove herself, and they’ve got a hot mom out there causing all kinds of trouble for all sides. His father is dead when we get into the story, so he doesn’t play much of a role — beyond being the weight of Cade’s guilt, the representation of the Jedi’s failure in this era, and the source of that inconvenient bloodline thing. If we’re going to stick with the latter in our storytelling, then bring on some juicy, nuanced family drama.
Darth Krayt serves as the big bad, manipulating all the players and sewing chaos. There is significant history to the character that connects him to the world we know. The series takes its time to unravel the connections, reminding us that though this story takes place in a distant future, the galaxy isn’t that small after all.
He is accompanied by a small group of somewhat loyal Sith, including the very warm Darth Talon.
There are several larger groups from which we get some other character perspectives and depth of lore. The Imperial Knights are Force wielders that aren’t caught up in the religious ideologies and zealotism that binds the Jedi and Sith. They are more like space cops that use the Force and the typical Force instruments like lightsabers as tools to get the job done. They are pragmatic and loyal to the Galactic Empire and its throne, to which Marasiah Fel is heir. She initially fills that Princess Leia role, but we get to see a lot more of the political side of her role, as well as her training as an Imperial Knight herself. Through Marasiah and various other Knights, we see other moral and ethical struggles of conscience versus duty in relation to the Force and to each other.
What’s a show without a bit of romance? It should be noted that this princess is not the love interest of our anti-hero, who already has a relationship with Blue. Nor are any of the romances central to the plot, though they do serve their purpose in terms of character development. Marasiah has her own thing going on with one of the Knights that is explored with equal depth in relation to their duties and personal codes.
There are also stormtroopers, pirates, gangs, and more to round out a solid series with lots of stories for a television show to draw from.
The Mandalorian has shown us what the Star Wars universe truly needs and can be. The new shows, for better or worse, will carve their own marks and make those Disney+ subscriptions worthwhile. As these shows bring in more Star Wars fans, including those who never cared about the saga before, the opportunity to look further into a galaxy far far away is surely inevitable, and the world needs Cade Skywalker to take us there.
Cade Skywalker is trash and I love him. One day you will love him too.