After writing the Tarkin spotlight, I realized that my spotlights have been overwhelmingly focused on the bad guys. The only character who would be primarily viewed as a hero is Quinlan Vos, and even then he’s gone evil in both canons. So, in light of this realization, I thought I would focus on a character that was decidedly on the side of the light: Jedi Knight Bultar Swan.
Now, I put the odds of you knowing who that is at approximately zero, and that’s really a shame. Well, maybe not quite a shame, but the truth is that Bultar, despite appearing in Attack of the Clones, has had very limited appearances in the EU, and absolutely none in the current canon outside of the movies. Look at it this way: remember that shot in the Geonosis arena, where all of the Jedi are surrounded by droids and whatnot? She’s in that.
That’s her, in the red oval! Being in the survivors’ circle at Geonosis is supposed to be your ticket to a bunch of EU appearances and a starring role in an episode of The Clone Wars. She got jack-sh*t! The only Jedi who got shafted harder than she did are Roth-Del Masona, who only appears in the EU via retcon, and a couple of others who wound up dying later in the battle. Swan almost got her own issue in the Star Wars: Jedi Dark Horse miniseries, and her actress was apparently underwent makeup and costume tests for Revenge of the Sith, but is nowhere to be seen in the final film. Alas, poor Bultar. I’ll be able to go through pretty much all of her appearances, thanks to her having only like 5, outside the film and direct tie-ins. That said, she did get fleshed out fairly well in various reference guides, so I’ll provide some basic backstory before I tell you what to read. Bultar was apprenticed to Micah Giiett (of “Jedi Chef” fame), who, prior to his early demise, taught Swan several different forms of unarmed combat. She continued her training under Giiett’s close friend Plo Koon, who stressed Lightsaber training to complement her skill in martial arts. As such, after Swan was knighted, she developed a reputation for never needing to take a life in combat, instead working on the defensive until striking, using martial arts to wear down her opponent. Of course, that had to change with the advent of the Clone Wars, where she served bravely. After defending Coruscant from General Grievous’s attack, she actually went on and survived Order 66. That all said and done, let’s get started with those actual appearances then, shall we? I’m gonna run through her appearance in the way they’re organized on Wookieepedia, which I believe is also the order of her appearances chronologically in the EU (her only appearance in the new canon is AOTC).
Star Wars Adventures 1, 2, and 3: Hunt the Sun Runner, The Cavern of Screaming Skulls, and The Hostage Princess
OK, so these are fairly obscure books unless you were a kid around the release of Attack of the Clones. Scholastic had a program that they ran through school book orders. It came with posters, magazines, novels, as well as the needed gear for a role-playing game that let the reader of the novel act some of the action out on their own. There were six books created for the program, all featuring relatively standalone stories but forming two fairly distinct arcs, one starring the Jedi and the second Jango Fett and his bounty hunter pals. The books are obviously meant for kids, but author Ryder Windham is a stalwart for the young reader sort of market, and he does a good job bringing in existing EU and minor movie characters to the table (I particularly remember Cradossk being introduced). Anyway, Bultar Swan featured in these three books, and as an impressionable young eight or nine year old, I really thought that meant she was a pretty important character elsewhere. Alas.
“Impregnable,” originally published in Clone Wars Adventures Volume 7
The success of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars microseries inspired a series of digest style comics to directly accompany it; their art mimicking the style of the show. Each one about 80 pages, and featuring several stories, the seventh volume featured a story starring, of course, Bultar Swan. Sporting a spiffy up-armored look that wouldn’t feel out of place in either Clone Wars TV series, Bultar attacks a fortress that is, unsurprisingly, purported to be impregnable. One amusing tidbit that I found out about this story is that it was written by Chris Avellone. Avellone is best known for his work with Obsidian Entertainment, working on games such as Fallout: New Vegas (a personal favorite of mine). Obsidian developed Knights of the Old Republic II, which was Avellone’s first of several forays into the Star Wars universe.
The Clone Wars: The Enemy Within
As it happens, the newer Clone Wars TV series also inspired some digest style comics. This one, billed as “Dirty Dozen in space,” mostly focuses on a squad of clone troopers, and Sergeant “Banks” in particular. At the end of the novel, he is placed under Bultar’s command. Released in 2012, this was Bultar’s first appearance since 2007, is currently her most recent appearance, and stands as her only appearance tied to the CGI series. But it’s OK. Seriously, I’m fine.
Clone Wars Volume 3: Last Stand on Jabiim
Now, Bultar doesn’t appear at the actual Battle of Jabiim. That’s very good news for her, actually: the battle was an absolute clusterf**k for the Jedi, and next to none made it out alive. Bultar appears in the final issue, originally titled “Enemy Lines” but renamed “The Storm After the Storm” for the collection. Bultar has a supporting role, joining in at the Battle of Aargonar. For another character, it wouldn’t be the sort of appearance worth spotlighting. For Bultar, well…
Star Wars: Purge
Initially a one-shot released shortly after Revenge of the Sith, eventually other issues were created under the “Purge” banner. Originally, however, it was a one-shot released featuring Darth Vader hunting down Jedi who survived Order 66. Story-wise, there isn’t all that much to it. That said, it does have Vader kicking butt, and it does take brief moments where the Jedi discuss the ethics of a targeted attempt to take out Darth Vader (the sort of questions that Dark Disciple puts a greater focus on). There’s a whole conclave of Jedi that Vader takes on, and Bultar Swan gets more screen-time (panel-time?) than most of them. Now, I don’t want to get in to the specifics of her fate, but the comic is named Purge. You oughta be able to put two and two together here, people. It’s been reprinted several times, and can be found in the ninth volume of Clone Wars comics, a trade paperback dedicated to the Purge miniseries, and it’s currently seeing print as part of Marvel’s Epic Collection for the Empire. Purge marks the end of Bultar’s time in the EU, but it has been 3 years since her last appearance. If the pattern between her two digest appearances holds, we should be due for another appearance in 2017 or so. Fingers crossed, people.
-Like I mentioned, Bultar almost got her own Jedi one-shot, before the series was ended at five issues. Author Daniel Wallace noted at the time that it would have pleased Swan’s “burgeoning internet cult.” I guess I’m a part of that?
-Bultar has actually kind of lucked out on the action figure front. Since she has a different costume in Purge than her traditional Jedi robes, she has actually gotten two figures produced of her, one for each costume. She has not, however, seen individual release. She was part of a comic pack that included Purge, and then was included in an Evolutions 3-pack. I own both, obviously. The comic pack was actually a fairly recent acquisition, as I found it at a comic book store years after its initial release. The figures aren’t all that well articulated (of course, that was the case with many early comic packs, but that’s a story for another post), but they have a unique look and definitely have a certain charm to them.
-That’s really all there is in terms of official Bultar Swan collectibles, but I did get my dad to buy me a custom Bultar Swan Lego figure on eBay when I was a wee lad.
-I think I may have had a crush on Bultar when I was younger, if that hasn’t been made evident yet.