The third installment of the BOBA FETT series focuses on a specific piece of expanded universe artwork that was used in an old Star Wars Gamer magazine. The artwork is not only interesting, but it brings up some thoughts and memories for me about my time at Lucas Licensing and some personal reflections on the Expanded Universe as a whole.
A Little Background.
In 1996, I was still a Senior Editor at Lucas Licensing and one of my first assignments was to work with George on The Essential Guide to Characters. It was the first book in which we were going to talk about Boba Fett’s backstory, so it was exciting, frustrating, and scary all rolled into one.
I remember getting the assignment and immediately breaking out the old newspaper clippings, wondering what I could possibly write about. After all, in 1979 when he was introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, Boba Fett didn’t have much backstory. As I dug into our own Expanded Universe history books, something caught my eye.
In 1979, when A New Hope debuted in the theaters, for all intents and purposes, there was no Star Wars Expanded Universe. The only books that were sold in bookstores were Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of the movie and a short story anthology called From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker. One of the stories in that collection was “The Fortune Hunter” by M.C. Spohr, a story of a young Han Solo plying his trade on the ancient planet of Arrochar, a precursor to the events that happen in A New Hope. In that story was an alien named Jodo Kast who sported some armor that looked just like Boba Fett’s, which came as a surprise to me. I’d always assumed that Fett’s armor was unique, designed for him by his father, but Spohr had obviously never seen the movie and concocted this alien look-alike before we ever introduced Boba in the films.
“About sixteen or seventeen years old, Jodo Kast stood six feet two inches tall and was whipcord lean. His hair was brown, worn long with a center part…His face was covered with fine clearplax, revealing only his eyes.”
This description is almost exactly what we see of Boba Fett in the very first frames of The Empire Strikes Back during the bounty hunter lineup scene. His face covered with clearplax, only his eyes visible…I couldn’t believe it. Here was a character that looked almost exactly like Boba Fett before we’d even introduced him!
So I suggested something radical to George—that he incorporate these elements into our version of Fett’s backstory. I had no idea how he would react, but George loved the idea and quickly agreed to it.
As we were working on The Essential Guide to Characters , I remember stopping by his house one evening and sitting down with him in his office, studying this artwork of Jodo Kast that featured at the beginning of “The Fortune Hunter.” I’m not sure why this particular painting stood out to me, but it did. It was such a cool image and, even though I’d never seen the movie at that point (April 1996), I told George we needed to make sure we used something like it when we introduced Boba in our book.
George agreed and gave this approval to our artist, Stephen Youll. And a few weeks later, when the first draft of The Essential Guide to Characters was ready for George to review, he added a special note at the beginning:
“I think it only fair to warn you that I have made up my mind about what really happened to Jodo Kast.”
I couldn’t wait to see what he’d come up with.
Another thing that happened was that, in 1997 , I’d just finished writing The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force when George asked me if I could pen the last two books of a new series called Legacy of the Force . This sounded very exciting and challenging to write, which is why I jumped at the chance.
The only thing I asked for was that I could kill off Boba Fett in one of these books, which he happily approved.
But George also pointed out to me that I’d be contradicting what we’d just worked so hard on in “The Unifying Force” when it came to the Yuuzhan Vong and Jedi. He suggested I make it so that Boba Fett survived the initial assault but quickly found out his armor was no longer battle-worthy.
I loved the idea, since it would make every other Mandalorian super-pissed at Boba for allowing these creatures to destroy great Mandalorian armors. It would provide a great platform to reintroduce the Mandalorian super commandos from my Tales of the Jedi stories, and it offered a perfect way for a new Boba Fett to rise from the ashes.
I flew out to San Diego Comic-Con in 1997, where I met with George for dinner at a local restaurant. He was flying to England the next day, so we had a small window of time to discuss some things. One of them was Boba Fett and I walked George through how I’d like to see him escape:
“Boba is trying to get up when his armor is blasted by one of these cannon blasts,” I said. “He can’t get up. He’s trying to stop the Vong from getting into his faceplate, but he can’t move fast enough.
“And then a super commando comes out of nowhere and blasts this warrior away. The warrior is laying there bleeding on the ground, still alive somehow, and this super commando picks up Boba’s helmet and says, ‘Get up. We fight.’
“Boba looks into the faceplate of this guy, who is wearing Boba’s own armor. He sees himself. And then he realizes that it’s time to be what he was always destined to be.”
George smiled and gave me a big hug, knowing I’d found the perfect way to bring back our favorite bounty hunter. The next year, I flew up to San Francisco and stayed with George in his home for a few days. We sat down at his kitchen table and hammered out all the details of Boba’s resurrection and set it up for this story arc in “Unifying Force.”
So for years (off and on), George and I have been talking about this Boba Fett’s return. It was never a question in my mind that he was still alive . In my stories, when people die it’s because there is a point to them dying—and sometimes they even come back from the dead.
So when I started writing The Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy in 1998, the only direction I considered was how Boba Fett could return with a huge impact. And this story arc is it.
Read on to see what happened immediately after Jodo Kast shot the warrior so that he could take Boba Fett’s armor .