By Iain Kay
With the recent news of Timothy Olyphant potentially joining the cast of The Mandalorian for its second season, the question remains: Who could Olyphant be playing?
Early rumors have suggested that he could potentially be in possession of Boba Fett’s iconic Mandalorian armor. If the rumors surrounding the armor are true, then I have to believe that he is playing none other than the former slave turned sheriff of Freetown, Tatooine: Cobb Vanth.
Vanth was first introduced in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy in 2015. As an avid reader of canon Star Wars novels, the thought of this character making a live-action debut is thrilling, You might be asking yourself: Who is Cobb Vanth and what is his story?
The tale of Cobb Vanth begins on Tatooine with a man by the name of Adwin Charu. Charu is a representative of the Red Key Raiders crime syndicate, which is currently posing as a legitimate mining operation in an attempt to replace Jabba the Hutt as the top crime operation on Tatooine.
Charu’s mission on the desert planet is to acquire key, high valued pieces of kit (currently in the possession of the Jawa’s) and return it to the syndicate leader Lorgan Movellan. He is immediately met with resistance from the tiny scavengers as they find it difficult to trust him. Enter Cobb Vanth…
Vanth craftily helps the incredulous Charu gain access to the Jawa’s secret stash of their most prized possessions. Here we find a set of Mandalorian armor that is heavily implied to have belonged to the famed Boba Fett. It’s described as being “pitted and pocked” from exposure to some sort of acid.
Happy with his find, Charu attempts to seize the armor and take it back to his boss but is stopped by Vanth, who also lays claim to the armor. Vanth declares his intentions to appoint himself lawman of the region to thwart “corrupt types” planning on taking advantage of the void created by Jabba’s death.
Charu attempts to shoot Vanth but is too slow. Vanth shoots him through the shoulder, leaving Charu begging for his life. Vanth instructs Charu to deliver a message to his boss: Flee Tatooine, or face the consequences.
Upon our return to Tatooine, we find Jabba’s former Beastmaster Malakili wandering the dunes heartbroken after the death of his Rancor, Pateesa. He plods on while cursing the “lucky fool in black” who savagely took its life.
Near death (and trying to make his way to Mos Pelgo), he is intercepted by a group of Red Key Raiders who rob the despondent man. Only finding trinkets, the leader of the group, Bivvam Gorge, demands to know if the former Beastmaster has anything of real value. If not, they plan to gut him and leave him to die in the dunes.
Just as this ultimatum is forced upon him, laser blasts descend upon the group. After a brief gunfight, the Raiders are killed and Malakili is approached by a man wearing Mandalorian armor.
Malakili finds the armor and his Twilek accomplice eerily familiar. The two mysterious figures introduce themselves as Issa-Or and Cobb Vanth, the self-described lawman and de facto mayor of Freetown (Formerly Mos Pelgo).
They quickly explain to Malakili that Freetown is a place where hard-working people are welcome if they’re willing to stand tall against the likes of Lorgan Movellan and his Red Key Raiders. The most important qualifier is that you make yourself useful.
A despondent Malakili explains he is no use to them as he is a Beastmaster with no beasts. Vanth and Issa-Or exchange furtive glances and ask Malakili if he knows anything about Hutts. It just so happens they currently have an infant one in Freetown. They had recently foiled the Red Key Raiders’ plan to install the infant Hutt on Jabba’s palace dais in order to use it as a puppet leader.
Vanth offers Malakili a homestead in Freetown if he’s willing to train the Hutt. Malakili gratefully accepts the offer. Before they leave, Vanth tells them to leave the corpses for others to find as it will send a strong message that “law, true law is spreading across this land.“
On our final visit to Tatooine, we find Freetown on fire, its residents either dead or rounded up, and its leader Cobb Vanth in chains.
Vanth has been brought before the leader of the Red Key Raiders, Lorgan Movellen. It’s here he reveals his past experience as a slave. All he wants on Tatooine is freedom for all.
An over-confident Movellen states his reasons for wanting to take control of the desert planet and mocks Vanth`s “swindlers forge armor “ and brings out the captured Hutt now named Borgo and its handler Malakili.
With the day seemingly won he informs Vanth that he is to be killed, Borgo will be sold back to the Hutts and the residents of Freetown will become slaves once more. It’s at this moment that Vanth and Malakili exchange glances and the beastmaster instructs Borgo to let out a blood-curdling cry.
From the periphery of Freetown, the Red Key Raiders start to fall. A stunned Movellen has his worst fears realized when a Tusken Raider atop a Bantha breaks through the front gate of the town, killing any Red Key Raider in his way, leaving the residents of Freetown untouched.
Movellen begins to understand that this is a coordinated attack. As he turns back toward Vanth, he sees his prisoner being released from his binders.
The Sherriff of Freetown quickly disarms the gangster, With Movellen at his mercy, Vanth explains that the Tuskens find Mos Pelgo (Freetown) sacred. They also don’t happen to be very fond of slavers.
Vanth used this information to strike a deal with the Tuskens offering them water and a pearl from the stomach of a Krayt Dragon. In return, they are to leave Freetown alone. A stunned Movellen tells Vanth that his masters will have their revenge by wiping Freetown off the map. Vanth boldly declares that he will die in service to this town.
Even if he and his “swindlers forge armor” fails, one day Tatooine will be free!
The last act of Cobb Vanth is to carve a warning into Lorgan’s face and send the gangster back to his bosses. At last, the bright fire of freedom is burning on Tatooine.
I really hope Olyphant is playing Cobb Vanth. The interludes in all three Aftermath novels add so much depth to the character and his intriguing backstory. I for one will be so excited if Vanth makes his debut in live-action. I recommend anyone interested in Vanth to go and read his story.