It’s no secret one of my favorite characters from Star Wars was the Imperial stormtrooper. And watching the merchandise since the very beginning, it’s always been a strong contender among fans. The weird thing about them, though, is they’re not your typical “face character” like Luke or Leia or even Vader. There is no one trooper and by their very nature they are anonymous. They are an entire category of characters, and that makes them a rich bed of character development. So I thought I’d take a second to list some of my favorite stormtroopers, and most of them weren’t even in the movies.
Tag and Bink
One side project in Dark Horse’s ’90s Star Wars comics line was Tag and Bink, two fast-talking and troublesome denizens of the galaxy who manage to show up at every crucial moment in the Skywalker saga. Think of them as the Forrest Gumps of Star Wars, only not as smart. From clean white TKs on the Death Star to TIE pilots in jet black to even Royal Guards making their way to the Emperor’s throne room, they wore a lot of the Imperial armor while managing to get out of (and back into) trouble until the Battle of Endor made them one with the Force. The characters were brainchild of Kevin Rubio (you may have heard of him — if not, then turn in your Star Wars card) and company, and based on his two brothers Craig and Brian. They may not have been registered troopers, but this Hope and Crosby duo gave readers a chance to see how far armor can get you.
He served Lord Vader in the raid on the Jedi Temple. He started out a grunt and rose to commander of the 501st Legion (some obscure unit I barely recall from the Expanded Universe). He was one of the original clone stock, CC-1119, but became one of the first stormtroopers and earned his own nickname when he and his brothers began to show individual personalities. Appo was a no-nonsense combat strategist and followed orders so efficiently, Lord Vader found room in his Sith heart to actually like the guy. Vader kept Appo close at hand for a good stretch after the rise of the Empire, his black armor not inspiring fear in the man like it did others. He even saved Vader’s life on one occasion and when he cashed in his chips he went out in epic fashion, decapitated by a lightsaber.
“I was rather fond of Commander Appo.”
―Darth Vader, on Appo’s death
Unidentified Biker Scout on Endor
In 2005 Dark Horse Comics published Marooned, a story in their Star Wars Tales series. It featured an unlikely match-up between a biker scout and a Rebel commando who had both been left behind after the Battle of Endor. At first enemies, fighting each other on-sight, they eventually realize the futility of it all and become uneasy allies. The story progresses as the two adversaries get to talking, the trooper seeing everyone and everything as a threat to be controlled while the Rebel can only laugh at how the “egg head” can bother with armor and an equally rigid outlook on life. When a rescue ship finally comes, the biker scout decides he’s had enough of war. He goes native and makes his home in the ruins of a crashed Star Destroyer. In spite of all the combat programming, even a trooper knows when the fight is done.
Candace the Trooper
With this summer’s release of Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb’s Star Wars Special, I found a new trooper to love. Candace, their older sister and perennial voice of authority, appears as an ambitious rank-and-file TK looking to make her mark in the war against the Rebellion. Too bad the only mission she gets is to pick up some black socks for the Dark Lord at “Tall, Darth, and Handsome.” Still, her first appearance is a doozy as she soulfully belts out a tune that any fan of the Empire can get behind:
“Now I’m a bad mamma-jamma
And I rock a mean helmet.
If I see a rebellion
Then you know I’m gonna quell it.
I’m a certified, full-blown,
And it feels so good to know I’m always right.”
Women in armor? You betcha!
With the release of Star Wars on videotape, fans got access to seeing the films in a whole new light. Enjoyed watching Han blast Greedo? Watch it again, and frame-by-frame! One thing that came to light for most of us was seeing the troopers on the Death Star investigate docking bay 327 and find a low-hanging pressure door as their biggest obstacle. Probably one of the first memes that went around before memes even had a name. I remember watching that clip over and over, listening to the soft thud of the guy’s helmet and the way the scene carried on like it didn’t happen. Did that just happen? Yep, it’s right there! Different stuntmen have come out over the years claiming it was they who made history, Michael Leader and Laurie Goode being the two that come to mind. Regardless of who it was, the scene became so popular even George Lucas gave it a wink when it came up. Of all the revisions to Star Wars in the re-releases, I am glad they didn’t remove it. Heck, I wish they could have used CG to show his head explode or something. I mean, the Death Star was a pretty dangerous place with all those open pits. Maybe a blast door would do just that if you hit it? I digress; here’s to you, head-bonking stormtrooper — you’re one of my fave troopers of all time. Everyone loves an underdog.
(Do I have more Hall of Fame Stormtroopers? Just you wait…)