In 1994, Lucasfilm started to build a sort of sub-franchise out of the X-wings; the exploits of Rogue Squadron, a group of elite pilots (The squadron is only seen movie-wise in The Empire Strikes Back and is sort of aknowledged by the naming of the Star Wars spin-off “Rogue One”, although there was a bit of old canon stating that the “Red” group in ROTJ was Rogue Squadron temporarily re-named to honor the squadron mostly killed in the first Death Star battle-and of course,). Although formed by Luke Skywalker, as Luke pretty much moves away from the military and becomes more involved in Jedi stuff, the leadeship of the group switches to Wedge Antilles-the pilot who survived all three original trilogy film battles-and was instrumental not only in toppling a walker, but in also destroying the second Death Star.
The X-wing series spawned generally well-received series of novels, as well as a popular video game series for Nintendo systems the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube-and of course, a comic series, which is what this article is about 🙂
Largely written by Michael Stackpole-the same guy who wrote the later X-wing novels-and drawn by rotating artists-the Dark Horse comics series functions as a sort of prequel/companion to the novel series. The novels take place three years after Return of the Jedi, and largely deal with the rebellion moving to capture and hold Coruscant, the capital of the Empire (and the Republic before it)-while the comics take place a few months later.
The first arc, “The Rebel Opposition” has Wedge assist a Rebel group on the planet Cilpar, against a brutal Moff (Star Wars term for Governor). In addition to introducing new characters such as Tycho Celchu and Elscol Loro-who will appear in later novels-the story also featured the character of Winter, Leia’s lookalike and bodyguard who was introduced in the Thrawn trilogy (Interestingly, the idea of Leia having a look-alike decoy was also used with her mother in the Star Wars prequel trilogy), who develops a relationship with Tycho.
The second arc, “The Phantom Affair” had a bit more meat to it, as the Rebels and Imperials bid for a cloaking device on a planet-and the Imperial bidder is the man who killed Wedge’s parents, as told in flashback. This story arc also introduces Booster and Mirax Terrik, who would eventually marry cop-turned-Jedi Corran Horn in later novels.
The third arc is “Battleground Tatooine”, in which the Squadron journeys to the Skywalker home planet to search for an Imperial weapons cache, and also honor the memory of Biggs Darklighter, Luke’s friend who died during the Death Star run in the first film. The arc also featured Winter in a pivotal role, as well as Bib Fortuna-Jabba’s Majordomo from “Return of the Jedi”-reduced to a brain in a jar; as well as a side trip to his home planet, Ryloth.
The next arc, “Warrior Princess” deals with tough-as-nails pilot Plouur Illo, who we discover is a princess on her homeworld. She also has a brother who is leading a movement-but is actually an Imperial plant. The story is also very interesting for introducing the character of Moff Tavira, a sadistic young Moff who would later play a center role in the novel I, Jedi-as well as appearing in later issues of Rogue Squadron.
The next arc, Requiem for A Rogue, features the first major deaths in the series, and also dealt with a subject that had largely been avoided in earlier issues-the Force-as the Rogues, rescuing a group of Bothan spies, also find themselves against a local bad guy who is using Sith magic-and trying to seduce one of the pilots- The Sullustian Dllr Nepp-into the dark side of the force. The series ends with the death of Dllr and also the Bith Pilot Herian Ingre.
The next arc is where things really start to fall into place-as the comic brings in Baron Soontir Fel and Ysanne Isard, two characters who become important in the X-wing novel series, and for Fel, even beyond that (Soontir’s son Jagged in particular, is important in later novels as he becomes the boyfriend and later husband of Han and Leia’s daughter, Jaina Solo). His TIE squadron-the 181st-is pretty much the Imperial equivalent of Rogue Squadron. Baron Fel, although part of the Empire, is not too thrilled with the way things are going, and knows he’s being set up as a pawn in Isard’s attempt to overthrow the current leader of the weakened Empire, Grand Vizier Sate Pestage.
The series ends with Fel getting captured, and the shocking revelation that he’s actually married to Wedge’s sister!
In the next issue, which tells us Fel’s life story and his rise to leader of the 181st squadron-we learn that he married holo-star Wynessa Starflare (“Holos” are basically the Star Wars in-universe equivalent of movies) . However, her real name is Syal Antilles-and what Fel does, he does to protect her mainly, especially from the likes of Ysanne Isard.
The next arc, Family Ties, goes even more into connections with the novels-introducing Corellian Corran Horn, his partner Iella Weiseri (Who becomes Wedge’s wife in the later books) and their Imperial liason Kirtan Loor, who would also play a role in the novels. Fel joins the rebels to rescue his family from the Empire, although Syal has gone underground.
The next arc, Masquerade, has Isard start to make more of a power play for the Imperial throne, as Pestage offers Coruscant to the rebels for safe harbor. Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia also appear in this story arc as well. However, Moff Tavira messes things up a bit. Isard’s attempt to implicate Pestage as a traitor fails, but in the final arc, Mandatory Retirement, things start to move.
Pestage’s duplicity is soon proven by Isard, and he goes into exile, to be extracted by Rogue Squadron. However, their mission fails-and results in the death of the Mon Calamari pilot Ibsitam. The series pretty much ends at this point, with the novels picking up some of the threads years later, with the implication that Rogue Squadron was temporarily disbanded due to the failure of the mission and the delay of Coruscant’s conquest. Ironically, the Rogues would play a major role in liberating the planet later on in the novel, “Wedge’s Gamble”.
The Rogues would get one more solo shot in comics, with the “Rogue Leader” miniseries. Taking place shortly after the battle of Endor, the series dealt with the rebels on Corellia, and featured Luke in a prominent role, as he hadn’t given up his military standing yet.