Most of the major villains that the heroes of Star Wars have faced over the years have either been the masters of the dark side of the Force known as the Sith or the collective leaders and armies of the Trade Federation, the Galactic Empire, and the First Order. But when Star Wars: The High Republic rolls around, we’ll be getting some gnarly new villains, including a new race of amorphous beings with tentacles and teeth, and a faction of marauders who look straight out Mad Max: Fury Road.
Get a look at the Star Wars: The High Republic villains below.
Since it’s Halloween time, there’s no better time for Lucasfilm to introduce us to what they came up with after asking the question, “What scares the Jedi?” Lucasfilm Publishing creative director Michael Siglain told StarWars.com that this was “a really fun but extraordinarily challenging question to answer.” And the answer that the Lucasfilm Story Group and Publishing teams came up with, along with the first five authors who are tackling stories in The High Republic, was that it had to be something new. And we’ve certainly never seen a Star Wars villain like the first one introduced below.
Star Wars: The High Republic Villains – The Drengir
Looking like a new version of Audrey Jr. from The Little Shop of Horrors, this is one of the beings that is part of the Drengir. This species is described as “unsettling, amorphous beings, chock full of tentacles and teeth.” They’re sentient plant-life, and all they want to do is “reap a terrible harvest across the galactic frontier,” according to Cavan Scott, who is writing The High Republic comic book series for Marvel.
The Drengir rise as the Jedi are dealing with that Great Disaster that serves as the catalyst to this new era of Star Wars stories. And the design of the creatures came from longtime Star Wars concept artist Iain McCaig. Inspired by one of McCaig’s sketches, Scott recalls, “It sparked off the inspiration for what became the Drengir and I quickly fired off a document outlining what could be their culture and background to the rest of the group, drawing on research I’d been reading about how real-world plants thrive and communicate with each other.”
This isn’t the first time that Star Wars has dealt with a dangerous, organic alien race. In The Expanded Universe (now regarded as Star Wars Legends), there was a series of books under the banner The New Jedi Order, and they dealt with the invasion of a grotesque alien race known as the Yuuzhan Vong. This species, from outside the known Star Wars galaxy, were religious zealots who viewed mechanical technology as blasphemy, and their own ships and weapons were made up of genetically engineered and purely organic material. They were especially deadly because they could not be sensed through the Force
Could these new canonical Star Wars stories borrow some elements from The New Jedi Order stories to help flesh out these new vegetative aliens? It’s certainly possible. But since the Yuuzhan Vong were not exactly welcomed by fans with open arms, it might be better if the Drengir go in a completely different direction.
One final tease of the Drengir villains comes from Scott, who says, “They are sinister, unstoppable and, as we’ll find out, inescapably linked to the fate of one of our High Republic Jedi…”
Star Wars: The High Republic Villains – The Nihil
Killer plant aliens aren’t the only threat in the galaxy though. There’s also a group of “brutal, savage marauders” known as the Nihil who look like they’re ready to ride eternal, shiny and chrome. As you can see above, they wouldn’t look out of place at Thunderdome, and Star Wars: The Light of the Jedi author Charles Soule says:
“They’re the stuff of nightmares, able to appear anywhere almost at will. They use bizarre, intimidating tactics — chemical weapons, poison — anything that might kill you, they’ll use.”
Just like any good group of marauders, there’s some structure to their villainy as the Nihil are organized into three main divisions called Tempests, each with its own captain who wields total control. Mostly, they just take what they want by any means necessary. However, there might be more to them than simply stealing. As Soule explains:
“They are frightening in a way that feels great for Star Wars, in part because their ‘code,’ if you can call it that, is so simple: the Nihil take what they want. If you stand in their way, they will kill you and everyone you love. But even chaos agents can have goals…and the Nihil’s plans run directly through both the Republic and the Jedi Order.”
One of the more deadly characters in the Nihil is Marchion Ro, almost looking like an ancestor of Edrio Two Tubes from Rogue One. Following in his father’s footsteps, he’s the Eye of the Nihil, an important post among the marauders. Though he’s not a Tempest Runner who gives orders, he’s very much the core of the Nihil. Soule explained:
“The things that make the Nihil more than just a bunch of Outer Rim raiders all come from Marchion. He is also, in every sense, a bad guy. And it’s been fantastic building someone around which to focus the darker elements of our High Republic story.”
Soule goes on to call the Nihil “one of the most vicious, unyielding, and chaotic groups the galaxy has ever known,” so the Jedi will probably have their hands full whenever they come into contact with these folks. We’re just hoping these new villains in The High Republic aren’t what Immortan Joe would called mediocre.
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