Scoundrel Round-Up #9–Dash Rendar (Star Wars)


I may have been created in the 90s, but I’m still rocking 80s shoulderpads (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)

So, talking about this next scoundrel is going to be kind of awkward because since the Disney-Lucasfilm merger he’s been declared non-canonical, but I don’t care. Shadows of the Empire and its new character, Dash Rendar, are real to me. Yes, he was introduced as a kind of emergency back-up Han Solo, but I don’t care. I have fond memories of this book and unlike some of the Star Wars books I’ve read over the years, it still holds up without the nostalgia I have for it and I think that’s part of why I’ve included Dash here. Shadows of the Empire was a multimedia event, with LucasFilm not only telling the story in book form, but also in the comics published by Dark Horse. It also had its own soundtrack and, if you dust off your old N64, you can even play as Dash Rendar.

To me, Dash Rendar is what Han Solo would have been if he’d been born rich instead of being born a scoundrel. Like Han, he was a Corellian, but his family owned a large shipping company that was gutted by Emperor Palpatine after his brother destroyed the Imperial Museum on Coruscant as a result of sabotage by a competitor (more on this competitor later). Dash was training at the Imperial Academy on Carida when this happened so he was summarily dismissed from the Imperial military as further punishment. So, like any military-trained spacer who gets drummed out of the service, Dash became a smuggler and gun-for-hire. Operating from a YT-2400 Corellian freighter (a more advanced freighter produced by the same people that made the Millennium Falcon), Dash and his super-intelligent droid companion LE-BO2D9 (Leebo) made a name for themselves in all sorts of scoundrel-y circles in the galaxy. Dash would run afoul of the Imperials multiple times during his life but shortly before the Battle of Yavin, Dash made his first inroads with the Rebel Alliance when he was hired to protect a pop star who was actually a secret Rebel agent. Even Dash didn’t know this when he took the job, and when he learned what it was, he nearly quit but the money was too good and he hung around and facilitated the delivery of vital data to the Rebel Alliance. Unlike Han, though, Dash didn’t really care much for politics and went back to the fringes of galactic society afterwards, running weapons and contraband throughout the galaxy. Dash apparently had a few somewhat forgettable adventures in the Star Wars comics series that I won’t recount here. I read a summary of them and they sound just a little odd for my tastes, so I’d rather remember the Dash Rendar I met in Shadows of the Empire (and the more recent Shadow Games that’s set before it) than try and understand why Dash did things like fight a sentient starship. Dash bumped into Han Solo a few times during the intervening years, and was delivering a shipment of supplies to Echo Base during the early scenes of Empire Strikes Back. However, when Han was captured by Boba Fett on Bespin, Lando called in a favor with Dash and he jointed their motley crew. Dash found Boba Fett on Gall but their attempts to retrieve Han failed. Following the failed rescue attempt, Leia hired Dash to keep an eye on Luke after Imperial assassins tried to kill him. While on Tatooine, Dash was present when Luke received a message from a group of Bothans that learned the Empire was in the process of building a second Death Star. In a way, Dash was responsible for the Star Wars joke about many Bothans dying to bring the Rebels this information. He failed to shoot down an incoming missile that destroyed a ship full of Bothans during their extraction from the Imperial facility where the second Death Star plans were being developed. While Dash and Luke were retrieving the information on the second Death Star, Leia was making overtures with Black Sun and their nefarious leader Prince Xizor. Xizor took Leia captive after she realized that Xizor was the one trying to kill Luke and not the Empire, at least this time. Luke and Dash teamed up to rescue Leia and the decision to go after Xizor was easy for Dash since it was Xizor’s business, Xizor Transport Systems, that sabotaged brother’s freighter and caused all the Rendar family’s problems. The two managed to infiltrate Xizor’s base on Coruscant and rescue Leia, but the job wasn’t finished with that. Xizor escaped to a space station in orbit around Coruscant and while Xizor provoked the wrath of Darth Vader, Dash decided he wanted revenge as well and attacked the space station in the Outrider. Vader’s super Star Destroyer got the killing shot on the space station and Outrider was caught in the debris field. Though Luke, Leia and Lando thought Dash died, he escaped and went underground for many years, continuing his scoundrel-y ways.

Dash’s creators could have very readily made him a carbon copy of Han Solo, but they mercifully realized that wouldn’t work. He had different motivations, he had different enemies, he even had a different style about him but they also avoided the pitfalls of making him Han’s opposite in every way. However, Dash is definitely still a scoundrel. He became a rogue after he lost everything but when he had the chance to get revenge on the people and groups that took it from him, he had no issue with doing so. That’s not exactly the hallmark of a bad guy, but he’s definitely not a white knight good guy either. His motivations are complicated but they generally wind up putting him on the good side of the spectrum, even if sometimes it takes him a while to get there. However, he’s not one to let his morals get in the way of a payday. Much like Han, throughout Shadows of the Empire, the easiest way to get Dash to do what they needed him to was to pay him. By the end of Shadows, he grew into something more than just a mercenary, but he also didn’t become nearly the idealist Han Solo did after joining the Rebel Alliance. Dash may not be the most original scoundrel, but to fill the scoundrel role in a book set while Han was trapped in carbonite, Dash did his job admirably. Going back and fleshing out his character in another book set before Shadows of the Empire really helped his case and gave him enough character that I think he’s worthy of inclusion on this list.

Only one Bothan died in the creation of this post (Image courtesy of the Star Wars Wiki)


Cosmic Bootlegger Released

Long un-awaited Cosmic Bootlegger (download) has arrived.


You have recently inherited a coveted interstellar merchant’s license from your cousin’s mother’s sister’s husband. After managing to secure a small ship you are now ready to become the local star cluster’s most (in)famous trader. Unfortunately there’s only 26 weeks before the Merchant of the Millennium awards, and you have a lot of hard work to do if you’re going to win the jumbonium tiara.

Current interstellar drives are incapable of directly taking you anywhere in the cluster; so, you can only travel to other systems connected to your present location by starlanes. Much to the surprise of those who originally discovered the starlanes and chagrin of speeders, it takes exactly one week to traverse a starlane regardless of the distance between systems, and there are no rest stops; so, bring plenty of toilet paper. Fortunately this keeps the galactic police service out of the starlanes as they stay near the ends where the donuts are.

Only two weeks to Minkar. We just have to make a pit stop in Ras Algthi for some Slurm
Only two weeks to Minkar. We just have to make a pit stop in Ras Algthi for some Slurm

When visiting a system you have the option of going through the customs checkpoint, where your ship will be searched for contraband. Your ship has a variety of locations to conceal contraband from the initial cursory inspection. If unconcealed contraband is found it will trigger a thorough inspection of your ship, all contraband will be confiscated and you’ll face a hefty fine. Alternately you can attempt to sneak into the system by navigating an asteroid field – but keep in mind that spaceships don’t react well to asteroid hits.

Dodging Asteroids - Good
Dodging Asteroids – Good
Face Planing on Asteroids - Bad
Face Planting on Asteroids – Bad

The local cluster consists of a group of 5-10 star systems connected by starlanes. Each system has passed laws making some of the cluster’s 12 commodity goods illegal; the illegal goods in each system will vary from game to game. In each system you are able to trade any of the commodities regardless of legality because, well, everyone needs 200 Proof Slurm to party, and you always happen to know a guy who knows a guy who knows a giant worm. Similar to a well known game from the historical archives the prices of goods change every time you move, vary wildly and often make no sense as everyone and their cousin’s mother’s sister’s son smuggles illicit goods into the system. You’ll start with 5000 credits and a ‘short cylinder’ class ship. It has a cargo hold with 30 spaces – 5 of which double as smuggling compartments.

The commodities that can be traded in the local cluster:

  • Spice – Sometimes called Melange. It’s the only substance that will get space navigators high enough to plot new trade routes.
  • Pentainum Ore – It’s like tri-tainium ore except two better.
  • All Beef Patties – As cows are an endangered species, beef can fetch a hefty premium on the black angus market, also good for greasing palms and emergency rations.
  • Soilent Green – Yep, it’s still made out of people.
  • Antimatter Rods – It’s the fuel of the future and incredibly explosive: handle with caution.
  • Bending Robots – They can bend a girder to any angle you want.
  • Sonic Actuators – Used in sonic screwdrivers and wrenches and hammers – oh my.
  • Intestinal Parasites – The future’s diet drug of choice because we’d rather have disgusting worms in our bowels than exert self control.
  • 200 Proof Slurm – Space’s most rockin’ adult-beverage.
  • Food Replicators – Tea, Earl Grey, HOT!
  • Plot Hole Navigators – They make all of storyline flaws in our favorite scifi and anime shows make sense.
  • Tribbles – The hamster of the future. Just don’t let them touch.

Scoundrel Round-Up #10–Corsair (Marvel Comics)

I don't always wear spandex in outer space, but when I do, you know shit is about to go down...
I don’t always wear spandex in space, but when I do, you know shit is about to go down… (Courtesy of Marvel Comics Wiki)

Here at Sarcasti Bots, we’re committed to highlighting all sorts of facets of science fiction and pop culture, so I figured we’d try a countdown of the Top 10 Sci-Fi Scoundrels. This is by no means an all-inclusive list and relies heavily on my own personal knowledge of science fiction and comics. If there’s someone that gets left off at the end of the ten, I apologize and if there’s enough call for them, I’ll make some additions later on to reflect what you, our loyal readers, suggest. With the introduction out of the way, I suppose it’s time we introduce Sci-Fi Scoundel #10—Corsair.

Some of you may be wondering who Corsair is. I’ll admit, he’s not a big name, but he’s one I’ve enjoyed for quite some time. Coming out of the Marvel Comics Universe, Corsair first appeared in X-Men #104…the more comics literate out there will realize that’s right in the thick of the classic “Phoenix Saga.” The X-Men met up with him while he and his crew were raiding Shi’ar targets. Corsair and the Starjammers would later aid the X-Men on multiple occasions and played a very big role in the original Phoenix Saga due to Corsair’s vendetta against the Shi’ar, especially Emperor D’Ken. Corsair definitely looks like a scoundrel. His overall character design just screams “space pirate.” He’s got the earring, the headband and even the flared pirate gloves. Even his weapons scream pirate, as he carries a saber and a pistol. Yes, his saber is made by the Shi’ar and his pistol is a laser weapon, but it’s still all very pirate-y. His original design is a bit dated, but he’s gotten a few redesigns over the years that have downplayed the stereotypical pirate look. Corsair leads a group of intergalactic pirates called the Starjammers. You’ve got to admit, Corsair must have been quite the leader since he’s just an average human leading a group of alien scoundrels who all, objectively, bring more to the table that he does. You’d think with all the stereotypical pirate tropes here, Corsair wouldn’t be that interesting of a character and not worthy of inclusion here. However, creators Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum gave him a great backstory that ties him deeply into the X-Men and make him an incredibly sympathetic character.

From issue one, it was know that Cyclops was an orphan. However, what no one knew, until Jean Grey sussed it out after spending time with Corsair in Uncanny X-Men #154, was that Scott Summers’ father, Christopher was still alive and wandering around the galaxy under the name Corsair. The plane crash that young Scott Summers remembered from his early life wasn’t a plane crash at all. The Summers’ family plane was attacked by a Shi’ar scout ship. Christopher Summers pushed his sons, Scott and Alex, to safety while he and his wife, Katherine, were captured by the Shi’ar. Emperor D’Ken killed Katherine in front of him aboard the scout ship and he was thrown into prison. However, like any charismatic scoundrel, prison was no match for Christopher Summers. There, he assembled his crew of criminals and they stole the starship Starjammer and escaped from the Shi’ar prison planet. Christopher Summers was unaware his sons survived the Shi’ar attack and felt that returning to Earth would be too much to bear and remained with the Starjammers and decided to get his revenge on the Shi’ar by stealing from them at any chance he got and started calling himself Corsair. As I mentioned at the top of the paragraph, Jean Grey realized there was some connection between the mysterious Corsair and Scott Summers but when she found out that Corsair was Scott’s father, he swore her to secrecy because he didn’t want his son to ever know that he was a space pirate. Scott, being the huge stick in the mud that he was, didn’t initially react well to learning that his father had been alive all these years and never returned to Earth, though he eventually accepted Corsair as his father and the two have had quite a few adventures over the years.

Of course, no Marvel character is complete without a death and random return from the grave and Corsair was no different. In a bizarre retcon, it was revealed that Katherine Summers was pregnant with a third child, Gabriel, when she and Christopher were abducted by the Shi’ar. D’Ken stole the baby before killing Katherine and sold him into slavery. Understandably, this Summers son (born Gabriel but now going by the villainy name “Vulcan”) had a pretty big mad on for revenge on the Shi’ar and cut a swath of devastation through the Shi’ar empire. Because succession in space empires makes no sense, Vulcan was crowned as the new emperor after killing D’Ken. Corsair, along with the Starjammers and Alex Summers (aka Havok), confronted his son and tried to convince him to stop killing the Shi’ar. Of course, all Corsair got for his trouble was being murdered by his youngest son. However, in either a massive fake out or massive continuity screw up, Corsair was revealed to be alive and leading the Starjammers in 2014 when they assisted the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy in saving Jean Grey, who had been abducted by the Shi’ar to stand trial for her crimes as Phoenix (again…seriously, that’s at least the third time I think the Shi’ar have put her on trial and it’s never really worked out all that well for them). I’ll admit, I’m not familiar with “The Trial of Jean Grey” arc from 2014, so I’m not sure if they actually explained why Corsair was alive and well, but I definitely remember his death scene at the hands of Vulcan during The Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire event when he took a blast of Vulcan’s powers to the face. To me, that’s something a normal person doesn’t really come back from. Regardless of whether his resurrection was accidental or not (which sometimes happens in comics), Corsair is back and leading the Starjammers with a teenage version of Cyclops by his side. That’s a super long story that I don’t want to get into because it would really lose the plot, but yeah, there are now two versions of Scott Summers running around the Marvel Universe and one is hanging out with his dad in outer space.

Corsair fits the scoundrel archetype for three reasons. First of all, you have to admit that Corsair looks like a pirate. That’s a pretty eye-catching design and while he’s a space pirate, his creators made the wise choice to make him pretty stereotypically pirate-y at the beginning so you knew exactly who he was just by looking at him. Secondly, Corsair’s motivation fits with the idea of a scoundrel perfectly. He was clearly wronged by the Shi’ar and decided to take matters into his own hands to seek justice. He definitely has a code of ethics, but following it puts him on the wrong side of the law. Finally, there’s his relationship with his sons. While Christopher and Alex Summers have always gotten along, there was some initial friction between Scott and his father. They didn’t get along when he only knew him as Corsair because Scott always follows the rules and Corsair didn’t and then when he learned who Corsair really was, there was a lot of resentment about his father’s choice not to return to Earth. Personally, I found Christopher Summers’ reasons quite compelling, but again, as befitting the scoundrel, not everyone could initially accept why he remained in space. However, even in the end, he tried to be a good father to Scott and Alex and died trying to save his third son even though Gabriel was clearly beyond saving at that point. Christopher Summers wasn’t willing to give up on his son and paid what seemed like the ultimate price to keep his son from being killed.

Corsair’s story has been collected multiple times. The original Phoenix Saga seems to get reprinted fairly often (such as in the Marvel Masterworks Series Uncanny X-Men Volume 2) and Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire is a relatively recent story that should be collectable either by digging through the back issues online or in the collected version. However, for my money, I still like going back to the 1992 X-Men cartoon. The second season (third season if you’re buying the content digitally) very faithfully adapted the original Phoenix Saga which means it’s a well-done story and it was my first exposure to the X-Men and Corsair. The cartoon adaptation was so good that it motivated me to track down the Phoenix Saga in collected form before and I try to read it at least once every couple of years because it’s nice to go back to an old friend like that. A later episode of the X-Men cartoon (Season 3‘s “Orphan’s End”) also adapted the story where Cyclops learned the truth about Corsair. For such a minor player in the X-Men universe (and I don’t mean that as a slight), Corsair has gotten a lot of attention from the Marvel media and I really wish that Marvel Studios had the rights to the X-Men. I think it would be pretty amazing, considering how popular Guardians of the Galaxy was, to see Corsair in a Guardians sequel. Considering the comics have paired up the Guardians and the Starjammers before, I think it’d be pretty awesome to see two space scoundrels working together on screen as well.

Courtesy of the Marvel Comics Wiki