[Warning: Contain SPOILERS for Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #2 and 3]
Thirty years ago, Marvel’s first run at Star Wars comics explored the storied life of fan-favorite heroes like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia Organa between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. After Disney purchased Lucasfilm and the rights to the far-away galaxy, Star Wars' vast shared universe was unified under the aegis of the Star Wars Story Group. As a result, much of the so-called “Classic Star Wars" and its at-times contradictory material became the stuff of Legends.
Nevertheless, Lucasfilm has brought some elements of the Expanded Universe into official canon, such as popular character Grand Admiral Thrawn and select events from the video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic through their films, animated series like Star Wars: Rebels, and supplemental material. Another intriguing recent development comes from the pages of Star Wars: Doctor Aphra - a spinoff from the impressive Darth Vader comic book run written by Kieron Gillen.
Doctor Aphra operates as a twisted counterpart to Indiana Jones, who allies herself to the Dark Lord and later, returns to her rogue archaeology to make ends meet. During the second and third chapters, writer Gillen digs into legends, referencing some curious lore buried deep in the pages of Marvel’s “Classic Star Wars.” Did the writer just bring an ancient (and obscure) Jedi fable back into canon?
The “Blind Fury” of the Ordu Aspectu
After Doctor Aphra loses her certification, thanks in part to her father, she reluctantly joins his obsessive, lifelong quest to discover the truth behind the arcane Jedi fable of the Ordu Aspectu. Their search leads to the jungle moon of Yavin 4, in particular, the Massassi Temple where there Rebel Alliance recently plotted its famous Death Star run. More intriguing still is the tale both rogue historians swap about the mysterious sect. Within it, they describe a events which sound awfully similar to a tale called "Blind Fury," spun by comic legend Alan Moore in Marvel UK’s Star Wars Monthly #159 (1982).
In the story, a post-A New Hope Luke Skywalker receives a distress signal from a remote world named Garn – which Gillen refers to as the "Fortress of Garn" in Doctor Aphra #2. Once there, he discovers Rur, a being digitally encoded into an ancient computer. It also happens that Rur is the name of the villain/hero in both Aphras' yarns. An eternal computer program could also, in theory, equate to the “immortality” spoken of in Aprha's Aspectu myth. In the "Classic Star Wars" story, Rur was a member of an ancient Jedi splinter group known as the Order of the Terrible Glare. Curiously enough, Ordu Aspectu, translated from Latin means “army or order” of the “sight or vision" – not too much of a stretch at all. While the stories already match up pretty well, there are further connections.
Luke discovers, to his horror, the Order (or at least its diabolical leader Rur) has created a series of “soul-snares,” which sap the life from Force users unfortunate enough come near them. Aphra’s tale may also allude to this, as the Dark Jedi-like Rur and his brother purportedly drain the life energy of “padawans” in order to feed their everlasting life machine. The neat little bow on Gillen’s present to Star Wars Legends comes as Luke finally remembers the fable that Ben Kenobi related to him, revealing that much like in the Ordu Aspectu fable, the Jedi Order destroyed the twisted sect some 10,000 years ago.
Laid side-by-side, the pieces seem to fit together very comfortably. Also, given that Gillen himself is a well-researched writer, creating a tale so similar to an obscure Alan Moore comic doesn't seem like mere coincidence. Of course, there are other possibilities within Legends which could apply.
Ancient Sith on Yavin 4?
Moore and Gillen's mythologies run so parallel that it's easy to see how they connect up. Of course, there are several other stories within Legends which also revolve around the ancient Dark Jedi, in particular the Sith and their time on Yavin 4. In fact, the Legends comic running through the mid-late 90s, Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi, deals with remnants of the Jedi offshoot that winds its way to the ancient moon of Yavin 4, enslaving the Massassi people and forcing them to build the massive temples.
There are several reasons why Gillen probably isn’t referring to the Sith on Yavin 4 in Doctor Aphra. First off, there was no mention of the Ordu Aspectu or the Order of the Terrible Glare in Tales, merely the dark Jedi sect and their attempt to re-order and defeat the Jedi once and for all (since that always works out so well for them). Of course, Lucasfilm could easily repurpose either tale, combining aspects of them as they see fit or pertain to whatever they have up theirs sleeve in the coming months. The comic book did take some peculiar routes with the Sith, on the other hand, that could trip up current Star Wars mythology.
Set 5000 years before the Battle of Yavin, the Old Republic-era tale offered an exciting look at the Jedi and Sith’s past, but it also drew up some out-there origins for the Dark-siders. According to Tales, the Dark Jedi were offshoots of an ancient race of red-skinned peoples called the Sith, who were eventually subjugated by the fallen Jedi, who interbred with them to the point of extinction, but kept their species' name for their Dark Side cult. As intriguing as this concept was, thus far none of it's elements have made it into canon, and at present the Sith operate more like an opposing sides of a spiritual order.
Of course, things can change quite easily in the Star Wars galaxy. If an obscure tale from 1982 can make its way into an official comic book, who knows what else could wind up as legitimate?
Another Part of Legends Reborn?
Although difficult to tell where Gillen is going with his story arc at this point, the events at the conclusion of Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #3 point to some sort of revelation. After fitting all the Ordu gems into the Massassi temple floor, the other temples lights up like the grand opening of Blasters-R-Us on the Death Star. Hopefully, the next chapter will unravel more of the mystery behind the mysterious cult, drawing further parallels between Moore and Gillen's tales. On the other hand, Aphra still claims the fable could be nothing more than an "argument between Jedi grammarians.”
Lucasfilm’s Story Group is understandably wary about bringing elements from the Expanded Universe into the official lore – especially since the pre- and early Republic eras are a nightmarish can of worms, continuity-wise. At the same time, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra isn’t the only time the Order of the Terrible Glare appears in canon, giving Gillen’s use of the sect more validity.
The obscure Dark Jedi troupe must have a fan somewhere in the Story Group, since they also get a shout-out in Servants of the Empire: The Secret Academy, a junior novel tie-in to Star Wars: Rebels. Hardly what you’d call a major comeback for a minor moment in galactic myth. Still, the mention of corsairs raiding colonies for the Order sets a precedent for Gillen’s tale to theoretically expand on, and also shows the mysterious ways in which the continuity gurus twist and tweak things in the galaxy.
Always the clever writer, Gillen could merely be using a lesser-known narrative as a red herring for his own tale of archaeological intrigue. However, if he just pulled on a historic thread from a classic piece of lore, it certainly would give hope to fans who'd love to see their favorite stores culled from Legends. This canonization would also be exciting, because, in concert with the Knights reference on Rebels, it brings more elements from the history of the Old Republic into canon.
While an obscure reference, the arcane sect, over 10 centuries gone, apparently helped shape George Lucas' initial concepts for Sith culture going forward into Return of the Jedi and the Prequel Trilogy and could now act as gateway drug into Star Wars’ ancient conflicts. Even if the sect is little more than a one-off or limited-use enemy, their inclusion still offers some curious possibilities. If Lucasfilm and Gillen choose to further explore the Ordu/Order connection, they could certainly repurpose them, working the group into existing Sith mythology or simply retaining Moore’s original weirdo Force-draining computer cult angle. While highly unlikely, they could theoretically connect to the Knights of Ren or Supreme Leader Snoke, hence their resurgence in canon prior to Episode VIII’s arrival.
No matter what happens with the Ordu Aspectu and/or the Order of the Terrible Glare, it’s an exciting time to be alive for life-long Star Wars fans and those enviably just discovering this vast and fascinating galaxy for the first time. If Lucasfilm continues to attract top talent like Kieron Gillen and carefully select relevant Legends material, it will only serve to enrich the franchise and continue the franchise's legacy as an incredible, organic shared universe.