Top 10 New Canon Characters
By: Karl Sander
While we here at Youtini celebrate the entire catalog of Star Wars publishing, from Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and Brian Daley’s Solo novels to the Legacy of the Force Series, it’s undeniable that this is a golden age in literature for our favorite franchise.
Since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, there’s been a steady stream of material weaving intricate threads between the Original Trilogy, Prequels, and the current Sequel Trilogy. Talented writers have shown us more about our favorite new characters, shed new light on galactic events, and introduced us to more worlds.
These writers have also introduced us to a whole new cast of characters. They bring new adventures, new insights, and new perspectives on the immensely rich Star Wars universe. They represent a wide array of compelling and fascinating personalities - and if you only watched the movies and TV shows, you’d miss them all. But who are the best of this new crop of droids, bounty hunters, spies, and warriors? Lists like that are always tough, being as subjective as they are. To help narrow it down, we limited ourselves to characters that aren’t in any of the movies or TV shows (at least so far!) And so, here are ten of the best characters in the new Star Wars canon!
1. Agent Terex
Agent Terex, former Stormtrooper TX-603, offers us a perspective on life after the fall of the Empire we haven’t had before. After the Battle of Jakku, he drifts into organized crime and even leads the Ranc Gang syndicate for a while, but still has a hard time letting go of his identity as a Stormtrooper. He had been a true believer in Palpatine’s Empire and yearns to somehow help bring it back, so it’s no surprise he finds his way into the First Order.
He crosses paths with Poe Dameron, who becomes the white whale to Terex’s Ahab. Terex embarks on a one-man crusade to defeat Black Squadron and the Resistance, only to meet with recurring failure that eventually has him condemned to the mines, at least until he convinces his bosses to give him another shot.
His single-minded fixation even leads him to disobey the orders of Supreme Leader Snoke, himself.
Terex is the recurring antagonist in the Poe Dameron comic series. Through his arc, we learn not only more about how former Imperials cope - or don’t - with their defeat and how the First Order grew, but we get a unique lens on Poe’s backstory. Furthermore, Terex also presents a roguish counterpoint to the rigid orthodoxy of the First Order. Believing that his service to the Empire had earned him the right to some indulgences, he has no qualms about using alien slaves and partaking in Wookiee brandy or Kessel spice - much to the annoyance of Captain Phasma.
You can find Agent Terex in the Poe Dameron comic series.
2. Eli Vanto
Born and raised in “Wild Space” and sent to an Imperial Academy to become a supply officer in the hopes it would groom him to one day help his family business, Eli Vanto instead becomes translator, aide, and understudy to the future Grand Admiral Thrawn. Initially distrustful of the Chiss officer due to legends he’d heard in childhood, and also briefly resentful about leaving his intended career track, Vanto comes to admire Thrawn and the two become friends.
In Timothy Zahn’s 2017 novel Thrawn, Vanto accompanies the titular character on an odyssey in pursuit of the insurgent Nightswan, and along the way uncover clues to a massive - and secret - Imperial military project. After Nightswan’s defeat, Vanto becomes the Empire’s attaché to the Chiss Ascendancy.
In a way, Vanto plays Watson to Thrawn’s Sherlock Holmes: smart in his own right (bright enough for Thrawn and others to believe he should command and not be a supply officer), but often needing a little nudge to understand the intricacies of the mastermind’s plans. And since Thrawn doesn’t think like most Imperials Vanto’s perspective helps us relate to what’s going on.
He gives us an “everyman’s perspective” - not just of Thrawn’s intellect, but also of life within the Empire. He shows us the Core Worlds’ prejudice against humans from the fringes of the Empire and aliens in general. We see more of the intricacies of life in the Imperial Navy through the eyes of Eli Vanto than we do in all of the movies combined. Even if you’re firmly on the side of the Rebels, when you’re reading Thrawn, you can’t help but like and root for the guy.
Eli Vanto appears in Timothy Zahn’s novel Thrawn and its Marvel comic book adaptation.
3. Sinjir Rath Velus
What happens when the Empire’s misfortune prompts some of its servants to reconsider their place in the universe?
Sinjir Rath Velus starts out as an Imperial Security Bureau “loyalty officer,” one of a specialized group whose job it was to ensure troops remained loyal to the Empire. He is assigned to the shield generator at Endor where, seeing the way things were going, he ironically abandoned his post. For a time, the Empire lists him as one of the many casualties of that battle. While he’s on the run and under the Empire’s radar, he runs into Norra Wexley’s crew on Akiva and eventually joins the New Republic where he puts his unique skills to work hunting Imperial fugitives.
In the course of chasing Grand Admiral Sloane, the group discovers a large Imperial fleet massing over Jakku, and Velus travels with Snap Wexley to warn Leia Organa and Mon Mothma. When efforts to send a military response bog down, he helps convince a handful of senators to change their votes, setting the stage for the decisive battle. He becomes a trusted advisor to Chancellor Mon Mothma and part of the peace talks that result in the Galactic Concordance and the end of the Empire.
The events of Endor leave Velus with guilt, shame, an uncertain moral center, and a lost purpose, but eventually, he finds something he hadn’t had before: friends. His moral code, such as it is, centers on taking care of himself and these new friends, to whom he is fiercely loyal. He is painfully aware of his moral ambivalence, drinking heavily to cope with it. Yet it’s his unpredictable arc - who’d have expected to see an ISB agent end up working for Mon Mothma? - and his unique morality that help make him the interesting character that he is.
Sinjir Rath Velus appears in the Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig.
4. Jas Emari
Jas Emari is a Zabrak bounty hunter who insists on only working for winners.
Winners who pay well.
She’d established a rather fruitful working relationship with the Galactic Empire, and heads to Endor to collect an Imperial bounty on Leia Organa. However, soon after her arrival, things begin to change as she senses the tide turning and walks away from her Imperial ties. Soon enough, while working to collect a bounty on a slaver, she finds herself on the planet Akiva, where surviving Imperial senior officers arrive to plot their next moves following the destruction up the second Death Star. Joining with Norra Wexley’s crew, she began hunting down fugitive war criminals. Along the way, her paths cross with the likes of Han Solo and Chewbacca, and she would eventually find herself at the decisive Battle of Jakku.
Like Sinjir Rath Velus, Jas draws an unbroken line from the end of the Original Trilogy to the stage-setting for The Force Awakens with her front-row seat for both the battle of Endor her role in the final defeat of the Empire at Jakku. But more than that, her creator, Chuck Wendig, does a terrific job (particularly in Aftermath: Life Debt) of portraying an engrossing and multifaceted character.
She has a strong independence streak and prefers to work on her own, but doesn’t mind teaming up with people who have similar objectives. She doesn’t have any problem switching sides and working for different governments, while she loathes slavery and convinces her new companions to free prisoners. She is a bounty hunter with a moral compass; perhaps not one that perfectly matches the archetypes we’re used to, but that’s part of what makes her endearing.
Jas Emari appears in the Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig.
Cardinal was one of the first children recruited into the First Order’s reborn Stormtrooper program. An orphan from Jakku, he’s grateful to the First Order for finally having enough food to eat and a decent place to sleep. He had greatly admired Brendol Hux, to whom he’d been personal bodyguard and chief of Stormtrooper training, but then along came Phasma, who took over training for the older cadets.
Cardinal felt like he had been making a positive difference for young orphans like himself, training them to be dedicated soldiers… only to see Phasma turn them into mindless automatons. He also came to resent her status and closeness to the elder Hux. When Brendol dies, Cardinal begins looking for dirt on his rival, and to that end captures and interrogates a Resistance spy, Vi Moradi. Thinking he has convincing evidence, he confronts Phasma only to be bested in battle by the chrome-plated captain.
He narrowly escapes with the help of his former captive, who even attempts (unsuccessfully) to get him to come over to her side.
Delilah S. Dawson, who gave us Cardinal, tells us that he “is our lens into why a good person would dedicate their life to the First Order - and why they’d seek to excise someone like Phasma by any means necessary.” He’s not a one-dimensional villain, despite his employer. He’s a sympathetic character who honestly believes he’s making a positive difference in people’s lives and making the galaxy a better place, and the fact that a Stormtrooper thinks that challenges the reader a little.
That makes his loss of faith in the First Order more profound, and it certainly makes him a more interesting figure in the saga.
Cardinal appears in Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson.
6. Mister Bones
Mister Bones is a heavily modified B-1 battle droid (get it? B-1? B-O-N-E? Bones?). The Clone Wars relic had been reassembled and reprogrammed by a young Snap Wexley to be a bodyguard since the future Resistance pilot was running a black-market junk shop and needed a little muscle. In the way Star Wars droids often do, he became Snap’s friend, too.
He is part of the team Leia sends to find Han and then goes on to help liberate Kashyyyk. Like the rest of the team, Mister Bone’s path eventually brings him to Jakku where he saves his master from two Stormtroopers and even manages to single-handedly take down an AT-ST before being vaporized in a friendly fire incident.
His unique personality also makes a brief return when Snap sends a characterization template for Poe Dameron to use in his commando droid to help get out of a sticky spot.
We love our droids in Star Wars, whether it’s Artoo, Threepio, or BB-8, and Mister Bones is no exception. But as droids go, Mister Bones is unique. Called by Wedge Antilles a “singing, dancing murder bot,” Mister Bones clearly takes pleasure in his macabre work, often humming a lively tune while offing folks. When he returns to his master, he proudly states that he has performed violence in the same way a young child might brag to mom and dad about getting dressed without help.
Chuck Wendig, who created Mister Bones for the Aftermath trilogy, describes him as “kind of sweet, in a demented sort of way.” Any resemblance to Knights of the Old Republic’s HK-47 may – or may not – be coincidental.
Mister Bones appears in the Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig - and his personality makes a brief cameo in Poe Dameron 13: The Gathering Storm, Part VI.
7. Vi Moradi
Vi Moradi, also known as “Starling,” is a Resistance spy who’s sent by Leia Organa to learn more about the First Order’s enigmatic Captain Phasma. On a journey that includes a stop at Phasma’s harsh homeworld, Vi gets captured and taken aboard the Absolution. There, she’s interrogated by Cardinal, who – as we now know – was also curious to learn more about his colleague and rival.
Vi shares what she’s learned so far, but she’s a better agent than Cardinal is an interrogator and manages to get information out of him, as well. Cardinal’s attempt to take Phasma down fails despite the evidence he’s managed to gather, and Vi ends up rescuing him from almost certain death as she escapes.
Vi serves as the literary device that helps Delilah S. Dawson tell us Captain Phasma’s story. With as much interest as Gwendolyn Christie’s chrome-plated Stormtrooper garnered - and with her limited screen time - many fans wanted more, and Vi gives it to us.
But that’s certainly not the only reason she made the list.
Dawson herself describes the spy as “a female Poe Dameron: humor, ego, and talent, but with an added dash of James Bond” – which we can certainly see in the way she holds her own against her interrogator, even becoming his way out of the mess he gets himself into. Of course, Dawson doesn’t say which James Bond she had in mind when she made that comparison, but that offers an opportunity for some unique cross-franchise speculation (my vote is Connery, for the record).
Vi Moradi appears in Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson.
8. BT-1 and 0-0-0
BT-1 is an assassin droid, designed to pass as a run-of-the-mill astromech, and 0-0-0 is a protocol droid programmed to specialize in etiquette, customs, language… and torture.
BT-1 had been developed by the Tarkin Initiative, a secret organization within the ISB’s Advanced Weapons Research Division, but as soon as he was built, he wiped out everyone at the base, initiated the facility’s self-destruct system, and jettisoned himself into space. 0-0-0 had once belonged to Wat Tambor, a member of the Separatist Council during the Clone Wars, but frightened his master to the point that the droid’s personality matrix ended up locked in quarantine for a century.
Both are discovered by the archaeologist Doctor Aphra, who needs 0-0-0’s translation skills to communicate with BT-1 for a job she’d been hired to do. The two droids then accompany Aphra and soon her new boss on a series of adventures, rescuing her from said boss, and even – for a brief time – become her bosses.
They’re clearly not your typical droids.
As Bizarro is to Superman so is this duo to C-3PO and R2-D2. BT-1’s homicidal tendencies make a stark contrast to R2-D2’s repeated heroism, and while C-3PO never seems particularly far away from actually wringing his mechanical hands, 0-0-0 is all too happy to crack wise while he tortures people. Both BeeTee and Triple Zero even blackmail Aphra more than once. But that contrast, and the dark humor inherent in it, is only part of what we like about these two.
With roots stretching back to Grand Moff Tarkin and a Clone Wars antagonist, and story arcs that intersect with Vader, Luke, Han, and Leia, they provide a new and unique connective thread between different parts of the saga.
BT-1 and 0-0-0 appear primarily in the Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra comic series.
9. Iden Versio
Iden Versio is the commander of Inferno Squad, a special unit of the Imperial military founded by her father, Admiral Garrick Versio. She loyally and successfully serves the Empire, even if her tactics sometimes stretch the boundaries of what her superiors find tolerable. Her homeworld had prospered under the Empire, and she grew up with the conviction that it was a force for good.
That changes, however, shortly after the Battle of Endor, when a secret contingency plan goes into effect and Operation Cinder begins to exact Emperor Palpatine’s posthumous revenge. When Cinder reaches Iden’s homeworld, she and a colleague defect to the Rebel Alliance, telling Leia that “it’s taken us too long to realize we were fighting on the wrong side.” She forms and leads a new Inferno Squad, fighting in the battle of Jakku. Years later, she’s mortally wounded by a former colleague - but not before stealing plans for First Order Dreadnaughts.
Those plans would come in handy.
Iden’s spot on our list is a little unique. Yes, she’s in a new canon book, where we get introduced to her personality and ethos, but, admittedly, most of her arc is in the Battlefront II video game. However, redemption is a dominant theme in Star Wars, and hers is arguably one of the most powerful redemptive arcs in the current era of Star Wars (at least until we find out what finally becomes of Ben Solo/Kylo Ren). What’s more, everything from her presence at the Battle of Yavin (admittedly retcon) and subsequent mission to clean up the remnant of Saw Gerrera’s partisans to her direct influence on events in The Last Jedi make her another bold link tying different parts of our beloved saga together.
In addition to the video game Battlefront II, Iden Versio appears in the novel Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden.
10. Doctor Aphra
Dr. Chelli Lona Aphra is an archaeologist specializing in droid and weapons technology. While working for another client, she’s recruited into Darth Vader’s service not long after the Battle of Yavin. The Dark Lord was apparently in the proverbial kath hound house after letting the Emperor’s new battle station get destroyed by a ragtag band of rebels, and figures he needs to build up some resources of his own (in secret, of course).
Learning of Aphra’s talents with droids, he has her help him build up his own droid army (ironic, considering his previous job). He also uses her to confirm that Padmé, had given birth to twins and that those twins had been spirited off by two Jedi Masters. Eventually, she tries to betray Vader to the Emperor, a decision she barely survives.
Aphra’s adventures fill a fascinating time in the saga, the period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. She is an intriguing window into Vader’s arc during this time and crosses paths with the Original Trilogy’s main protagonists, but beyond that, she’s an amazing character by herself. She survives not just throwing shade at the Dark Lord, but somehow manages to survive even crossing him - and then survives multiple betrayals on the part of her droids BT-1 and 0-0-0.
Even her creator, Kieron Gillen, didn’t think she’d last this long but she became such a fan favorite that she’s gone from being a supporting character in the Darth Vader comic series to having a series of her own. Part “dark, mirror version of Indiana Jones” and part inverse Han Solo, she’s unpredictable, morally flexible, contradictory…. and an immensely entertaining survivor!
Doctor Aphra appears in the Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra comic series.
Of course, as fans of Star Wars literature, we know that for almost as long as there have been movies, there’s also been a rich collection of stories that add depth and new perspectives to what we see on the big screen.
Even though we’ll always love our Legends, there’s no denying that the current crop of Star Wars books has been weaving a vivid new tapestry in the best traditions of the old Expanded Universe.
With plenty more on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to meet a new character from a galaxy far, far away!
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About Karl Sander
Karl lives in Alaska, where he’s managed not to freeze any tauntauns before the outer marker. After completing a 20-year Navy career, he now works full-time as a freelance writer. When he’s not enjoying Star Wars, he can usually be found skiing, hiking, and supporting Alaska’s independent brewers.
You can see more of Karl’s work at www.karlsander.net