Boba Fett is dead no more, long live Boba Fett! Next week, The Book of Boba Fett will kick off a new adventure with Temuera Morrison’s legendary Bounty Hunter, paving a new way forward for his criminal empire while exploring just how he cheated his (rather goofy) death in Return of the Jedi. But this is Star Wars: of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Boba do this.
Blessed be the Star Wars expanded universe because there are actually two moments Boba escaped the sarlacc in the classic continuity. The lesser-known, and much funnier original story came in the pages of Marvel’s original Star Wars comic. Star Wars #81—hilariously subtitled, “Jawas of Doom”—released in late 1983, it saw Han and Leia return to Tatooine shortly after the events of Return of the Jedi, as Han... well, Han was trying to get his bank to acknowledge the fact that he was no longer in Carbonite, and needed his account re-opening. Yeah.
Anyway, it turns out a roving Jawa Sandcrawler nabbed Boba after he managed to boost his own way out of the sarlacc pit, thinking that the masked man was actually a droid they could scrap. After the same Jawas kidnapped R2-D2 from under Han and Leia, the duo chase after them, with Han diving into the Sandcrawler and discovering for himself that Boba Fett lived. The good news for Han, however, was that Boba had “I’ve been partially digested” amnesia, and didn’t recognize him. Too kind-hearted to abandon the hunter who had no idea he’d made Han’s life miserable for the past few years, the two worked together to escape the Sandcrawler with R2. Alas, it wasn’t to be: Leia’s repeated yelling of Han’s name outside the Sandcrawler jolted Boba’s memories back just as he and Han were about to make it out, causing him to immediately go for his blaster in a bid to end Han’s life once more. Han leaped away with R2, and poor Boba—and the roaming Sandcrawler—fell back in the sarlacc. Because how else would he be in there to get out again?
Shortly after being back in digestive prison, Boba hatched plans to escape from a thousand years of agony once more. As depicted in “A Barve Like That: The Tale of Boba Fett,” the J.D. Montgomery short story in the classic 1996 anthology Tales From Jabba’s Palace, Boba began using the internal systems of the sarlacc itself to make a telepathic connection to one of its other victims, an alien being named Susejo. After the two traded memories, of both the many victims of the sarlacc that came after Susejo and Boba’s own exploits as a bounty hunter, Boba realized that Susejo was all but one with the sarlacc itself. Goading the alien’s thoughts into a convulsive response from the sarlacc’s innards, Boba managed to get the creature to contort around his jetpack—crushing it and igniting its propulsion systems, grievously wounding Boba and blowing him free of the creature’s tendrils.
Still, with barely enough strength to make it out of the creature’s maw as it tended to its wounds, Boba lapsed in and out of consciousness—Boba was discovered once more. This time, not by Jawas, but a rival bounty hunter: none other than Dengar. Exploring the salvage left behind from the explosive destruction of Jabba’s sail barge, the Khetanna, Dengar discovered Boba’s body and nursed his one-time professional rival back to health. Dengar was assisted by a young dancer from Jabba’s palace who had survived her master’s downfall, Neelah—whose memory had been wiped before being sold into servitude, and believed that Boba had some connection to unlocking her past.
After Boba recovered enough to flee Tatooine with Dengar and Neelah in tow—who discovered that she was actually the high-born Kateel of Kuhlvult from the planet Kuat, home to the famous Kuat Drive Yards starship production facility—Boba became friends with Dengar, and the duo formed an unlikely early partnership. After abandoning the Slave I to go on a mission of vengeance against the leader of Kuat Drive Yards, Kuat of Kuat (yes, really), Boba left the remaining shipmaking facilities to the control of Kateel and rejoined Dengar as a hunter. For a time, he leveraged the anonymity gained by people believing he had perished at the sarlacc pit, taking jobs in secret with Dengar. It would be another four years until Boba re-emerged on the galactic stage, making himself known to Han Solo after trapping the Alliance general on the moon of Nar Shaddaa in another attempt to get vengance against his former target. From there... well, let’s just say Boba went on to have a long, wacky life in the old EU.
No doubt The Book of Boba Fett will give us another alternate retelling of this event, now to be canonized as the “official” story in Disney and Lucasfilm’s era of all-canon, all the time. But it’ll be interesting to see what beats and ideas—and the emotional impact it might have on a character we know far more as a mysterious cipher than as an actual person—it echoes from the versions of Boba’s rebirth we bore witness to in the past. We’ll find out when the series begins streaming on Disney+ Wednesday, December 29.
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