I’ve always been enthralled by aliens or other species in sci-fi/fantasy, be it Star Wars, D&D, Warcraft, whatever. When I create a character for myself, I almost never pick “human” because I’m a human in real life (yeah, I know, hard to believe) so I like to take any chance I get to change it up. That said, my favorite part of the Vanity Fair Star Wars issue is the above set of pictures from Maz Kanata’s castle. To me, they look like a slightly classed up wretched hive of scum and villainy. If the Mos Eisley Cantina is a run-down dive where the neon sign is only half-lit and you can’t tell if the smoke lingering near the stained and moldy ceiling is from the kitchen or the people at the bar, then Maz’s joint is like Denny’s. I will admit that, like some other fans, I’m a little disappointed to not see at least a token Rodian or Weequay, but I’m willing to look past that considering we may be on the complete opposite end of the outer rim from what we’re used to…plus, no old species means plenty of room for cool, new species to become canon and start making their way into books, comics, cartoons, etc. And I have no problem with that. So, with my copy of Vanity Fair open in front of me, let’s go through the non-humans one at a time, from left to right, and see what insights I come up with…
Back left, the Givin?
Okay, so forget what I just said about not having any token aliens, here’s a Givin! At least I’m calling it a Givin until we hear differently…which we probably will…”no, that’s not Tatooine, that’s Jakku, and that alien isn’t a Givin, it’s a Jakkuvian Skullmonster”…something like that…anyway, to hell with all that, it’s a Givin! Since a Givin figured rather prominently in Heir to the Jedi, it wouldn’t surprise me to see one in the film even though they’re generally a rather obscure species. It would make for a really nice nod to the more hardcore fans that read the books and such if there was some kind of introduction to this character and they spouted a mathematical equation instead of returning the basic greeting. It would probably seem like weird comic relief to the casual audience, but we’d know…we’d know…now, if you look closer, you can see what appear to be two metal nubs on the top of its head. My first thought is they’re some kind of cerebral implant to enhance the already-exceptional Givin mathematical mind, or maybe this is a particularly rough customer so Maz installed some kind of biological restraining bolts…just in case…to that end, it’s also worth noting that it appears to be only one of two individuals in the whole group that’s actively armed. Most everyone else just seems to be hanging out, chatting, trying to look nonchalant by not staring into the camera, you know, acting natural, but the Givin is like, “nah, I’m gonna keep my piece right here where ya’ll can see it”…Givin thuglife…represent…or something… *EDIT: So, with my newest entry discussing the interludes in Aftermath, I’ve decided that this is, in fact, not a Givin, but an Uthuthma as described in the Jakku interlude…so, yeah, guess I was wrong about this one…but I’m sure the others are all spot on! (that’s absolutely not true)
Beside the Givin, the bearded, mutant Ithorian?
Clearly someone has been doing some mad-scientist experiments on Ithorians in an attempt to combine their two side-mouths into one front-mouth…and it worked! Now instead of needing that neat vocabulator the Ithorian bartender had in Rebels, they can just speak basic like everyone else…but at what cost…AT WHAT COST?!?! Only kidding, I’m sure this is just a new species that’s probably based on concept art from what turned out to be our friendly, neighborhood hammerheads. I do like his beard, it’s a nice touch, and it almost looks like he has eyebrows, but I can’t really tell for sure…definitely reminds me of an elderly martial arts instructor, like Pai Mei from Kill Bill…definitely a cool-looking character, and very alien, as pretty much all of the non-humans in this group are…it seems like they steered away from the “near-human” species like Mirialan, or even Twi’lek, and went full-alien…I appreciate that, the less human the better.
Seriously, this is almost exactly what I pictured in my head when I read the parts of Servants of the Empire that mention Auntie Nags…I can just see her photoreceptors flashing to red as her fingertips flip up to reveal tiny blasters in her fingers…cool…anyway, this looks like a pretty obvious female take on a protocol droid…a successful one too, I might add, though I’m not a big fan of the pseudo-gas-mask thing over her mouth. Unless she’s actually not a droid, but in a cybernetic suit like Vader and that’s her respirator…now that would be really badass…but I’m going to stick with my gut and say she’s definitely a droid of some kind.
Little mole person in front of the dying guy with the tissue?
So, I have three theories here: it’s what a little Kubaz looks like under what could be a black mask that we see Garindan wearing in ANH, it’s an incredibly old and wrinkly Utai, or, my favorite one, it’s a genetically-modified Eopie with a huge chip on its shoulder that’s using Maz’s castle as a jumping-off point for its own evil plot for galaxy-wide domination! Muahahahahaha! …okay, yeah, it’s a new little mole man species that looks like it just got back from a hunting trip…but that Eopie idea makes you think, right?
The big guy, aka “fat Trandoshan?”
I just don’t get this comparison…I mean, I guess I do, the big fella is mildly reptilian, somewhat the same shade of yellow-green that Bossk is, and has similar sleeve ends on his jacket or whatever, but that’s really as far as the similarities go, and all that is pretty superficial. One main difference that jumps out at me are the two tusk-like protrusions from the big fella’s chin, his weird horn goatee, if you will…Trandoshans definitely don’t have those…he also appears to have at least three fingers and a stubby thumb, Trandoshans have three digits total, so that doesn’t add up…in my unprofessional, pull-it-out-of-my-ass opinion, this is a Houk. There isn’t much of a canon description for the species, but he’s a big, burly, mean-looking son-of-a-Hutt, and I think that fits the bill pretty well…plus I’ve heard spacers talk about how they like to hang out with sexy, Harley Quinn-esque court jesters and keep strange, black, 4-eyed frog dogs as pets…how terrifying is that thing, though, seriously? How’s it even shut its mouth with all those teeth…yikes…
The real Ephant Mon?
You’ve heard of having junk in the trunk, right? Well, this thing’s junk is its trunk…how inconvenient must that be? I appreciate that he tried to adorn it nicely with two elaborate ring…uh, things, and even has some decorative chains going between them…but, damn….either mother nature, or whoever’s doing the mad scientist gene splicing, really missed the boat on this one…poor little alien…he looks kinda like when Alec Baldwin’s character in Beetlejuice was trying to be scary and stretched his face out, but then got carried away and couldn’t stop and ended up with a 4-foot snout-mouth…this is definitely a new alien, I really can’t think of anything I’ve seen like that before.
The little, blue, hairy leprechaun?
If I ever come across the end of a rainbow only to find this diminutive, yet angry-looking, red-eyed creature, I’m going to run in the opposite direction for sure…potential pot o’ gold be damned. I’m really at a loss for this guy…my only guess from a previously-known species would be a Ryn…it could have a tail back there, you never know…or maybe Ryn don’t have tails in canon anymore…or more than likely this isn’t a Ryn, but that’s beside the point. I suppose this could be the first Jawa to ever go without the prescribed attire, but the eyes look a little too far apart for that…nor are they glowing…minor detail, though that could just be something they wear that makes their eyes glow…anyway, I do like that they’re keeping with the Star Wars tradition of having several small aliens. The leprechaun, mole man, and super-trunk are now members of the elite club of tiny people including the aforementioned Jawas, Ugnaughts, Chadra-Fans, and, who could forget, the beloved, furry little Ewoks…just to name a few…even though they can’t stand tall, they stand proud.
The baby rancor with the metal peg-leg?
Okay. So. This is a rancor. I know, I know, I need to calm down with the genetic mutation theories, but c’mon…C’MON! This is a rancor…the vertical nose slits, the wide-set eyes, the sloped head…it’s uncanny, just look:
Okay…okay, I get it, there are no menacing teeth on peg-leg, and you just can’t imagine a rancor wearing leggings and sandals, I get that…but, just humor me and agree that it looks at least more than a little bit like some kind of rancor hybrid abomination thing…thanks, means a lot to me…especially because that’s basically all I have. I can’t think of any other species this looks anything like, so, by default, peg-leg is the missing link between rancors and humans…boom…mind blown…you’re welcome…
Hump back, big nose, squinty eyes?
Genetically mutated Mon Cal, right? Okay, sorry, sorry…it’s not, I’m sorry…it’s a Mon Cal/Dressellian love child created during the baby boom after the destruction of the second Death Star…yeah, I give up, I got nothing…this character definitely seems old to me, what with the wrinkles and squinted eyes. The nose and mouth area looks somewhat equine, though the eyes being set so far forward makes it appear much less so. I don’t know, I think I’ll just chalk this up to a brand new species and move on to…
THE BADASS IN RED!!!!
Hell. Yeah. So, as if this character doesn’t grab your attention well enough already, if you scan the page as I have been from left to right it’s like, drab, drab, drab, drab, human in the back with a cool blue coat, leprechaun, drab, RED! Talk about standing out in a crowd…there’s no way this character came to Maz’s castle to blend in. Everything about this character is so cool; I want to know the whole backstory, but, at the same time, I almost want this to be one of those Aurra Sing-type characters that they show for seconds at most and leave you to wonder about them (I know she gets more attention in the Clone Wars series, but I just meant in the films…stop interrupting me)…that’s something I’ve always loved about Star Wars, how it manages to create interesting, compelling characters that you miss should you happen to be an inopportune blinker…anyway, I like the western feel I get from this character’s poncho-like pullover cape coupled with the swashbuckler look of the double belts over a longer top…and what’s that hanging from the belts on the right? Is that a lightsaber hilt? I don’t know, could be…I don’t think it is, I think it’s a blaster of some kind, but, still, could be…I get a bit of a Rocketeer feel from the helmet even though it doesn’t really resemble it at all…I mean, I guess if you took the single fin from the top and put one on each side it looks kind of similar…but not really…I can’t help where my mind goes, it’s out of control…what I also can’t help is that this is my favorite character from this photo. I know, it’ll probably turn out to be a human and I said I wasn’t even going to talk about the humans, but I don’t have to listen to myself, I’m not my real dad! That was awkward…moving on…
First of all, I really dig this throwback. Very cool to see something like this. In my opinion, though, this isn’t a character, it’s decoration. Yup, I think, since it’s a castle after all, it’s a bit of an homage to having old suits of armor along the walls of medieval castles. I also think it’s a message, or a warning, or a constant reminder of how things used to be…a way to remind yourself not to be complacent…but maybe that’s putting too much of a resistance spin on what is more than likely a non-affiliated group of pirates…though it does appear, based on conjecture, that Maz is the one that hands over the linchpin lightsaber…though, again, the trailer may be deceiving us with the voice-over and she could be handing it to Captain Phasma, not Leia like everyone (myself included) assumes…to further the meaning of the statement piece, someone’s scrawled “fear” across the forehead of the helmet in Aurebesh:
Pretty intense…if this is a character, they’re pretty ballsy to walk around with “fear” written on them. In some places that might make people keep their distance, but in a group of riffraff like Maz’s castle I’d say something like that is more likely to provoke someone than keep them away.
So yeah, that’s my take on some of the denizens of madam Maz’s crazy castle. I think it’s safe to say that I have a serious hangup with wanting things to be genetically mutated or modified…I promise I’ll seek help…not really…I do promise to put my fingers to the keyboard and write about another piece of the ever-growing Star Wars universe soon. Until then, may the Force be with you…