Boba, Jango, and the Mandaloreans

Boba Fett and his Mandalorean introduction came even before Return of the Jedi

Boba Fett and Fenn Shysa - Marvel 68 from the Omnibus Fools Bounty
Boba Fett and Fenn Shysa – Marvel 68 from the Omnibus Fools Bounty

Initially we only got the briefest of hints from the Empire Strikes Back that his armor was Mandalorean.  We get the news he was a Mandalorean Protector from Fenn Shysa, one of the only three surviving members. He encounters Leia Organa on Mandalore as she is on the quest to find any clue to Boba Fett’s trail to find Han.

In Tales of the Bounty Hunters we get an odd view. In The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett gives him the name ‘Jaster Mereel’ who was exiled from Concord Dawn for murder of a corrupt Journeyman Protector. This story also gives him a strict ethical code that suggests he believe the Empire is the lawful authority. That said this story was oddly published even though it went into the forbidden prequel era and not surprisingly was overwritten. It’s also odd in that all the other short stories in the book are focused in the period of the hunt for Han Solo, not venturing far into the past or future.  While Attack of the Clones altered Boba Fett’s beginning, in true Expanded Universe creativity this was easily explained as his having used the alias of Jaster Mereel on occasion.

There are other stories of Boba Fett. Many others. The next to reveal his Mandalorean history come in the Young Adult Boba Fett series 1-6 where the story is told of his learning to follow in his father’s footsteps after he was killed. This includes hunting former Jedi at a very young age.

Mandalorians on Galidraan, from Jango Fett Open Seasons, Dark Horse Comics
Mandalorians on Galidraan, from Jango Fett Open Seasons, Dark Horse Comics

Jango Fett and how he became Mando.

In Jango Fett: Open Seasons we discover how he was adopted by Jaster Mereel into his Mandalorean clan when his family was murdered by Death Watch. He learned well from his mentor and became the leader when he was betrayed and killed. The battle between Jaster’s clan and Death Watch would continue until the clan was destroyed through treachery. The Jedi were the unwitting instruments. Jango would eventually hunt down Tor Vizsla their leader and get revenge.

Now clanless, he took to bounty hunting in his ship ‘Jaster’s Legacy’. He lost that on a hunt for the leader of the Bando Gora, which was actually sponsored by then Count Dooku. In it’s place he stole a special Firespray ship that he named Slave 1. On getting to Komari Vosa, now Bando Gora leader and Dooku’s former apprentice first, he found he’d won more than a bounty. He won the offer of being genetic donor for a Clone army. Along with the huge pay, he also took one unaltered clone: Boba.

The Clones

The Clones were trained by Jango and carefully selected warriors, most Mandalorean. They trained them in their culture as well as their physical prowess.  In spite of the conflicting facts that Jango worked for the Confederate leaders and was slain by a Jedi, they revered him. It’s likely that since his clan was killed by Jedi he would’ve been pleased how Order 66 turned out.

Rohlan Dyre, Mandalorean from the Knights of the Old Republic comics.
Rohlan Dyre, KOTOR comics

The original Mandaloreans

They weren’t human at all, but were a race given wholly to combat as a form of religious worship. Worlds fell to their conquest. To them, battle was a form of proving their strength. But they had a prophecy that a final battle would come and they would be destroyed. So sometime after the defeat of Exar Kun in the Great Sith War, they started taking humans and other kinds into their ranks.  The sheer religious factor would mostly fall away except for a belief in an afterlife but the newborn culture endured. During the Mandalorean Wars they once more (at the behest of the still hidden Sith Empire) went to war with the Republic. This was their downfall. Jedi Knight Revan found a single Mandalorean mask in a colony where Cathar had been massacred. He had a vision that this lone Mandalorean had tried to dissuade them from the slaughter. So he wore the mask, and against the Jedi Council’s orders, he led eager Knights to war.

During the war, slaves were taken by the Mandaloreans. Those captured may be fighting for the Republic for one minute, (or hiding) and forced to fight against it the next. But those so inclined joined willingly. Defeated, they went on to largely become mercenaries. Their weapons, armor and war droids were confiscated. Even the mask of Mandalore was taken, until Revan returned it to Canderous Ordo who became leader.

Shae Viszla, leader of the Mandalorean clan in the Shadows of Revan story arc in SWTOR.
Shae Viszla, Star Wars the Old Republic

For a time, the Mandaloreans spent recovering and mostly at peace with the Republic. But the Sith Empire waited, maneuvered their own choice into leadership. Once more they sided with the Sith, with Shae Vizsla aiding in the Coruscant strike against the Jedi Temple. They remained independent however, for a time serving the rediscovered Revan but then joining against him in battle. When Zakuul invaded both Republic and Empire, Shae ended up leader of the clans, trying to hold them against an impossible foe.  She sided with the Alliance Commander against Zakuul but continued to have difficulties with her own people, some of whom had gotten a taste of war for it’s own sake. She loved battle but wanted a challenge, not a war full of slaughtering just for killing’s sake.

Mandalorean culture, though brutal, did have appeal. Fierce loyalties to family, fidelity of marriage, children and clan. It was not for weak of heart or spirit. Nomadic, in spite of Mandalore being considered the home world. They had their own battle language, skill at making arms and armor. Their armor and Basilisk war droids meant a great deal to them, after clan and family.  Cowardice would get one cast out. Men and women alike were accepted to answer the call to battle by the clan, unless children were involved. Then women minded the home but were still ready to fight to protect. Mere words were enough for ceremony, adoption, marriage, even divorce and disowning (a rare event, usually due to cowardice.)

Mandaloreans are a complex people. The dangerous thing about Mandaloreans is that for them, the battle isn’t a means to an end. It’s an end itself, a perpetual means of strengthening themselves. They make dangerous foes and in the old days many a world fell because they weren’t up to the challenge of defending themselves. Their greatest challengers have always been the Jedi. That said the Jedi, while formidable warriors, take up their weapons and go to war only as a last resort.

Mandalorean Sources:

  • Tales of the Jedi: the Sith War (comics)
  • Knights of the Old Republic 1 (Video game)
  • Knights of the Old Republic 2 (Video game)
  • Star Wars the Old Republic (Video game )
  • Jango Fett (comics)
  • Jango Fett Open Seasons (comics)
  • Star Wars Insider 80: The History of the Mandaloreans(Magazine)
  • Star Wars Insider 86: The Clans of Boba Fett, An In Depth Study of Mandalorian Culture and Language (Magazine)
  • Star Wars Insider 64: History of Boba Fett
  • Republic Commando (game and novels)
  • Marvel comics (classic): Star Wars 68 (Boba Fett mention only)