Wedge Antilles has been an enduringly popular character right back from the time of the original movies. Over the years, he’s gone from a minor, recurring role, barely more than a name and a handful of largely banal lines, to a fully developed personality and leading character, with hopes, quirks, feelings and some sharp dialogue. This article is not intended as a biography of the character: for that, read the excellent and detailed article on Wookieepedia. Instead, I’ll be looking at how Wedge has been portrayed in the books and comics over the years and how he’s been developed into the character he is now. The different authors who have written about him have used the character in different roles, and have developed his personality and storyline in their own ways. There have been inconsistencies and dead ends, but some of these problems have been adapted by other authors to make Wedge a richer character. From extra to star; from teenage, orphaned pilot and smuggler to respected middle-aged retired admiral and family man: Wedge Antilles has come a long way.
Wedge first appeared in the films, of course. He’s at the briefing on Yarvin in Star Wars, sitting next to Luke, and flies into battle over the Death Star, after uttering the immortal line, “Look at the size of that thing !” In the novelization of the film, he is described as a teenaged Corellian but even this much information isn’t in the films. A few years later, by the time of ‘Return of the Jedi’, Wedge appears to be of a higher rank, but we really know nothing more about the character. He’s had no more than a dozen lines in each of the three movies he’s been in, and virtually all his dialogue has been directly related to whichever fight he’s been in. If you pay attention you can glimpse him at the Ewok party on Endor, but although it makes up for him not being visible at the medal ceremony on Yarvin, it still doesn’t tell you anything about Wedge as a person. He’s clearly a hot pilot and a survivor, but that’s it.
After the films, Wedge appeared in a few of the Marvel Comics stories in the mid-80’s, but mostly just as a bit-part, as in the movies. One story (Hoth Stuff ! - issue 78) did give him a background – as an old friend of Luke’s from Tatooine, much like Biggs Darklighter – but this was never expanded on and was subsequently abandoned. The comic series ended in 1986. After this, there was a long gap until the first of the modern Expanded Universe novels was published in 1991: ‘Heir To The Empire’, by Timothy Zahn.
However, what many of the fans who picked up the book didn’t know was that West End Games had been developing the Star Wars universe as background material for their Star Wars role-playing game. This was launched in 1987, ten years after the first film, and four years before ‘Heir To The Empire’ was published. The game’s sourcebooks give names to the technology seen in the movies; starships are named and classified; worlds are developed and the structure of the Empire and the Rebellion are defined. Characters from the films appear in the sourcebooks, sometimes described as part of the scene-setting, and sometimes speaking more directly, to give the readers a feeling of being part of the galaxy far, far away.
In the Rebel Alliance Sourcebook (1990), the chapter on starfighters begins with an excerpt from ‘Alliance Strategy and Tactics Lecture 137: Combat Starfighters’.
“Greetings, gentlebeings. I am Wing Commander Wedge Antilles. In this lecture I am going to discuss the importance of starfighters in the Alliance’s strategy and tactics.”
It was the games sourcebooks that finally gave us some real background for Wedge. The first biographical details for him came in the Galaxy Guide 1: A New Hope (1989), by Grant Boucher. He developed the story of Wedge growing up in a fuelling depot on a Corellian spaceport and the death of his parents in an explosion as a pirate ship fled without unhooking its cables: the ensuing fireball destroyed both it and subsequently the entire complex. There is no mention of Wedge’s parents sacrificing themselves to save others. Wedge receives insurance money and a reward as a result of a Corellian law about indirectly capturing or otherwise disposing of wanted felons, but there is no mention of Wedge tracking down the pirates and killing them.
Booster Terrik is not mentioned in the gamebooks – the character had not been created at this point. We are simply told that Wedge attempted to make a legitimate career transporting cargo but his money soon ran out. Rather than join up with a crime lord, Wedge started running weapons for the fledgling Rebel Alliance. His contracts told him that they needed experienced pilots for combat missions, and Wedge decided to join up formally.
None of this background, however, is even glimpsed in ‘Heir To The Empire’ or for some time afterwards in the novels. The Wedge we see in Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy is a dedicated soldier and pilot. He is defined as the very essence of a soldier, following orders from higher up, with little in-depth understanding of, or serious interest in, the political issues involved. He gets to play at Intelligence work on occasion, though we are told his whole bearing is too military for him to be convincing in a civilian role. This is played upon when he’s being a deliberately obvious back up man for Han Solo, to deflect attention from the real back up man who accompanies them to a shady cantina. His loyalty to his friends is amply demonstrated through the trilogy, with a few glimpses of the intelligence and experience that have kept him alive and serving as Rogue Leader for so long. However, we learn very little of the man himself – nothing of his past or his hopes for the future. He’s still more of a useful tool than a character in his own right.
This is a role that Wedge will fulfil in many books in the future. He’s just a familiar name for the big battle scenes: the reliable support guy who buys time or puts things in motion for the real heroes to win the day. Who he is as a person is not important. He’s there to represent the everyman.
In production at the same time as Zahn’s trilogy, was the ‘Dark Empire’ comic series, set shortly after the book trilogy. Wedge is featured in the story; that’s the best really that can be said. His character still isn’t developed at all, but his career takes a change of direction here. He is suddenly now a general, commanding star destroyers. This abrupt change of rank and career was subsequently explained in the Jedi Academy Sourcebook, produced by West End Games. As many senior officers in the New Republic Army were killed during the war with Thrawn, Admiral Ackbar issues Wedge with a temporary promotion in the army, after the Empire attack Coruscant. It’s a rather arbitary promotion, skipping major and colonel, but then almost every senior officer named at this time seems to be a general.
The next novel published after the Thrawn trilogy was ‘The Truce At Bakura’, though it is set earlier in the timeline, just after ‘Return of the Jedi’. Wedge appears at the beginning, using his hand to keep two connectors apart, preventing a booby-trapped message droid from blowing up among the Rebel Alliance Fleet. Luke disarms the bomb and saves Wedge – so far this is the only time in the books that we see Wedge lose consciousness, unlike Luke, who seems rather prone to it. We see the strong, trusting friendship between the two, and it’s clear that although Luke is now a powerful Jedi. Wedge is still important to him. After this promising start, however, Wedge largely disappears from the book. He’s at Bakura, but is merely a familiar name among the otherwise anonymous pilots in battle scenes.
The first time Wedge is shown as something more than just a pilot and loyal friend, is in Kevin J Anderson’s ‘Jedi Academy’ books. It’s great to see an author making the effort to develop Wedge as a character, but unfortunately the plotting and logic is slapdash and the characterization poor. Wedge’s career takes another change of direction here – it gets him pagetime in the books, but really makes very little sense for the character. The story opens not long after ‘Dark Empire’. Coruscant has been badly battered in the fighting and Wedge is involved in the cleanup operation. It makes sense for the military to help restore the planet, but his abilities seem to be somewhat underused here. He’s been with the Rebels/New Republic for over 10 years now. He’s well-liked and respected and has proven himself over and over in combat. However, he spends four months on salvaging debris from orbit. It’s given him a chance to fly, rather than command capital ships, and his skills aren’t actually needed in combat at the moment, but it does seem rather a waste of a general’s time. If Wedge were a captain, or commander, it would be plausible, but surely the military could find better things for one of their finest generals to do.
After four months of salvage, Wedge is ready for a change, and requests a ground assignment. He is put in command of four of the construction droids which are repairing the city planet. Again, it seems a bit of a dead end, and little more than a poor excuse to have Wedge on planet to interact with the other characters. However, it does lead to new information about Wedge as a character. His crew discover some old Jedi-hunting technology. Luke tries it out, using Wedge as one of the test subjects, and we are shown without doubt that Wedge has no force sensitivity.
The other big development for Wedge in this series is his romance with Qwi Xux. Again, it’s not exactly clear why a Navy/Starfighter Command general should be assigned as bodyguard and escort to a scientist – surely some special forces operatives would make more sense here – but it gets Wedge some pagetime and we get to see a new side of him. Unfortunately, the romance is badly written, and Qwi herself seems wrong for Wedge. Although Wedge is in his 30’s now, he shuffles his feet awkwardly before finally giving her a quick kiss, and then almost runs off towards his own room. Wedge has been written in the past as a fairly unassuming and modest character, but here he’s like a schoolboy with his first crush. There may not have been much romance in his life up to now, but Wedge is a battle-hardened leader: he should have sufficient self-confidence and life experience that he doesn’t get all embarrassed at the very suggestion of romance in front of a woman he’s attracted to.
As for the pairing, Wedge feels very protective towards Qwi, all the more so after her memories are crudely wiped by Kyp Durron, and it is possible to see how he might fall for someone so different to the people he’s usually around. She’s very innocent, greets everything with a wide-eyed wonder that’s refreshing for a soldier like Wedge who’s seen too much death and destruction, and she admires and trusts him. However, she’s unformed as a personality – merely a scientist who lived only to solve problems, and who now cannot even remember much of her past. She’s never had the chance to find out who she is as a person, so Wedge is falling in love with an ideal, rather than an actual person. Some fans found it hard to believe that Wedge could fall in love with someone who designed the Death Stars that he risked so much to destroy. Wedge knows the destructive capability of the Death Stars as well as anyone, and lost many friends and colleagues to them, so falling in love with their designer, no matter how naïve she was back then, is hard for some readers to believe. Wedge seems rather shallow and naïve himself, wanting to rescue Qwi from her unhappy past with barely a moment’s thought about her responsibility for the Death Stars, World Devastators and the Sun Crusher that she helped create. He seems just too infatuated with his new crush to think critically.
Both the romance, and Qwi herself, are rather irritating, and neither were popular with Wedge’s fans.
Bantam were now producing several Star Wars novel each year. Wedge pops up in a couple of the books published around 1995/6, but only in minor roles, that add little to what we already know about him.
‘Shadows of the Empire’ by Steve Perry is set between ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’. Wedge is now commander of Rogue Squadron, following Luke’s departure after ‘Empire Strikes Back’, and is shown as a confident pilot, still relatively fresh and uncynical. He’s loyal to Luke and Leia, risking himself and the squadron against heavy odds in the search for Han Solo. As in the movies and books like ‘The Truce at Bakura’, Wedge and the Rogues are really just familiar names brought in for extra firepower in big battle scenes.
‘Darksaber’ is another Kevin J Anderson book, set in 12 ABY, so not long after the Jedi Academy books. Wedge is still in Fleet Command, as he was at the end of the Jedi Academy books and is still soppy about Qwi, who is now a trainee science officer on his command ship. He’s commanding a small fleet, ostensibly taking part in war games but really in Hutt space to provide a show of force. Once again, this consummately professional soldier suffers from poor writing and characterisation. There are moments when Wedge’s professionalism lapses and he acts more like Han Solo. He doesn’t seem to see anything untoward with Qwi leaving her station, on entry to the Hutt system when she should have been on alert, in order to chat with him, though he does restrain himself from hugging her. He also refers to the Hutts by the derogatory term ‘slugs’ in front of his bridge crew, and seems to be almost hoping for a fight with them.
Instead, he plays war games with Admiral Ackbar, starting by luring the admiral into a trap, using his own tactics against him. Wedge wins by thinking like a starfighter pilot, and using the three dimensions of space fighting effectively. The consequence is to make Admiral Ackbar look rather foolish, and not the great tactician we’ve always been told he is. At the end, Wedge’s forces capture Bevel Lemelisk, the scientist/engineer behind the Death Stars and Darksaber itself. Lemelisk rather casually insults Qwi (who is present in the hangar for no reason other than being Wedge’s girlfriend) and it seems to be this that really gets Wedge angry, not Lemelisk’s willingness to sell his skills to anyone who wants to build a superweapon. Although it’s good to see Wedge being treated in a character in his own right, it’s disappointing that it’s done so badly.
‘The New Rebellion’ by Kristine Katheryn Rusch is set a few years on, in 17 ABY. Wedge is well written here, more like the character becoming established in the X-Wing books and comics published as this book was being written. Wedge is now Chief of Staff of Starfighter Command. He is on easy first name terms with Leia and his history with her shows as he takes the word of C-3PO and R2-D2 over the opinion of a security guard. To the junior mechanics in Starfleet, he is a rather distant object of respect. Wedge is still dedicated to his pilots; having found the problems with the ageing X-wings, he comes up with the idea of reconditioning them where possible, rather than buying all new. His pilots will be safer and his plan will save the New Republic money. With both Han and Luke away, Wedge becomes Leia’s closest friend and supporter through the crisis. He hotly defends Leia at an Inner Council meeting, though he is only a guest and has not been invited to speak, and is one of those she trusts to work with her to solve the problem of the sabotaged X-wings.
Once again Wedge puts his career and reputation at risk; this time taking a task force to accompany Leia on a mission to rescue Luke. If the mission goes badly, they will be declared rogues who acted on their own. Wedge is realistic enough to admit that if they fail their mission, then their reputations will no longer matter anyway. He misses flying a starfighter in combat and doesn’t like co-ordinating battles from the bridge of a capital ship. He correctly trusts his own intuition, and gets to display his talent for out-thinking the enemy and coming up with unconventional tactics.
In spite of being a Corellian, Wedge only make a very minor appearance in the Corellian Trilogy by Roger McBride Allen. It’s set in 18 ABY, so just a year after ‘The New Rebellion’. Although previously, Wedge has become a general and left Rogue Squadron to command capital ships and then take a staff position, that all seems to be overlooked. Wedge’s rank is not mentioned, and he’s back with Rogue Squadron again. What’s more, the Rogues are not exactly being used as elite combat pilots here, but are running errands to help with the evacuation of a system threatened by having its star blown up. The main characters are all busy in the Corellian system and someone is needed to witness the panic and chaos caused elsewhere in the galaxy as a result of the problems the heroes are trying to resolve. So Wedge is our everyman witness, heroically risking his life to evacuate as many civilians as possible. Rather oddly, he is concerned by rumours about Leia, because he knows ‘how much she means to his friends, Luke and Han’. The phrasing rather suggests that Leia is not really a friend to Wedge, as he’s not concerned about her on her own account. This rather contradicts the relationship we’ve seen between them in other books.
Wedge’s personal life is not mentioned in either story: he appears to exist simply as a soldier with no life outside of his work. This is mostly likely because he’s only a supporting character, but could also be because the publishers wanted to keep their options open, with potential new developments in other books.
Happily, in 1995, the Rogue Squadron: X-Wing comic series was launched, shortly followed by the novels. The comics were set in the period immediately after Endor, thus moving us back in Wedge’s timeline. Michael Stackpole was already working on the X-wing novels when he was approached about the comics. As he already had a lot of background material for his characters, he agreed to write the stories for the comics. Although there were only intended to be three story arcs at first, the series was extended and ran for much longer than originally intended. Their production eventually overlapped with that of the X-wing novels.
At last, Wedge truly becomes more than the ace pilot and loyal friend stereotype, and really develops into a rounded character. After the odd-job work in the Jedi Academy books, Wedge is back doing what he is known and loved for: being the best starfighter pilot in the galaxy. We see him coping with the job on a day-to-day level: he assesses recruits, plans campaigns, makes speeches, trains in the gym, goes out with his friends and wrestles with bureaucracy. In the earlier books, as a character who largely followed orders given, rather than being involved in decision making, Wedge was a more limited character. By establishing a direct relationship of trust and respect between Wedge and his superiors, Wedge can be given more freedom. He can make more of his own decisions, initiating and following through an adventure without waiting around for off-screen orders.
The backstory first described in the role-playing books is developed further here. In ‘The Phantom Affair’ comic, there is a flashback to the death of Wedge’s parents, and in this version, they are not simply killed in the explosion, but deliberately sacrifice themselves for the sake of others – an example Wedge takes to heart. In addition, teenage Wedge now chases down the pirates responsible and takes his revenge on them.
Somewhat unexpectedly, we also learn that Wedge has a never-mentioned-before sister, who just happens to be married to the Empire’s most famous fighter pilot, Soontir Fel. Fel is captured by the Rebellion and chooses to defect, having become disillusioned by the Empire, but he insists that the Rebels help him find his wife, who has gone into hiding. Wedge, of course, is only too keen to find the sister he hasn’t seen since she ran away from home when he was just seven years old. Syal had become a galactic holostar under the name of Wynssa Starflare, and married Fel about a year after the battle of Yarvin.
Either she changed her appearance as she became more successful, or else Wedge never watches holodramas or pays attention to celebrity gossip. Surely if he had seen, and recognized Wynssa Starflare as his sister, he could have followed her career and would have known of her marriage to Fel, which was a big. public affair. In his narration in ‘The Making Of Baron Fel’, Fel states: “Even on the run, you might have heard of our wedding. They said a billion men had their hearts broken when Wynssa Starflare wed.” Wes and Hobbie certainly know about Wynssa Starflare, though they also don’t immediately connect her with Fel. Syal and Fel are reunited sometime between the X-wing comics and the books, and then both vanish. It’s not clear whether Wedge and Syal make contact before she goes missing again, but her second disappearance hurts Wedge again. He tries to find out where Syal and Fel have gone, to no avail. ‘Wynssa Starflare’s’ relationship to him seems to remain a secret. Zsinj sets a trap for Wedge by creating a fake Fel for him to chase, based on a rumour that it is Fel that Wedge is looking for. Zsinj doesn’t seem to know that Wedge is just as interested in finding Fel’s wife.
In the earlier-written books, Wedge is described very much as a soldier: in the Thrawn trilogy he is specifically described as uncomfortable in civilian clothes, and looking like a soldier even when in his civvies. Perhaps because the Rogue Squadron adventures require Wedge to be more than just a pilot, he gains a new range of skills. The earliest biographies of Wedge had established that before joining the Rebellion, Wedge had smuggled weapons for them, so it makes sense that he knows something about smuggling and subterfuge. The smuggler, Booster Terrik, and his daughter, Mirax, are introduced into Wedge’s backstory. Now there is a logical explanation of how Wedge gained skills that are useful to him in non-piloting missions. The scene in ‘Wedge’s Gamble’, where Wedge manipulates the tech into choosing the correct memory core is a prime example. The Wedge portrayed in Zahn’s novels simply didn’t have the attitude or skill set to pull off a bluff like that. Wedge does make a mistake, raising the tech’s curiosity by referring to Gavin as ‘son’, but he quickly covers himself, and keeps things going. Mirax, herself a highly successful smuggler and trader, exclaims admiringly about what a great smuggler Wedge could have been.
In previous books, Wedge’s rank and career has been a rather hit-and-miss affair. Even as a general, he still seems prone to the whims of his superiors, and for all the fame and importance of Rogue Squadron and Wedge himself, he seems to be treated like any other squad leader, except for being friends with Luke, Leia and Han. As Wedge is now a leading character in the books, he is shown as more important and influential within the New Republic than before, even though he’s of a lower rank than in some, later-set, stories. Although Wedge is only a commander, Rogue Squadron are under Admiral Ackbar’s direct command, giving Wedge a unique position. It’s clear here that Wedge and Ackbar have a good relationship. Ackbar respects Wedge for what he has achieved, and perhaps finds him a refreshing change from the more politically-minded people he has to deal with. Wedge is not interested in power and has much the same views on the military’s role as the admiral. This may be why Wedge is invited to attend high-level planning meetings, like the one before the first, doomed attempt at Borleias.
When Tycho is to be tried in ‘The Krytos Trap’, Wedge petitions the Provisional Council on his behalf. No other squadron leader would have been allowed to take up their time on a matter that was already effectively decided, but Wedge’s status as the recent conqueror of Coruscant makes it impossible for them to simply ignore him. Wedge threatens to resign and make his feelings public. The council value him enough to allow a recess for Leia to talk privately to him, and explain why he is needed so badly. She treats him with respect, trusting him with the secret of her forthcoming visit to Hapes, and finds a way of allowing him to save face when he backs down from his threat to resign.
Later, when Wedge and the Rogues do resign in order to have the freedom to pursue Ysanne Isard to Thyferra, they receive covert help from someone in the New Republic. With a bit of political fiddling, their X-wings as sold off as broken surplus, and Winter gets the first chance to buy them up, along with the unit’s protocol droid. Afterwards, some creative bureaucracy in the New Republic means that their resignations were never officially noted, so they can return freely if they wish, with no interruption to their records.
After these successes, Wedge seems more confident in his dealings with his superiors. He has no hesitation in going to Admiral Ackbar to put forward his idea for a new type of X-wing squadron, and is sufficiently at ease to speak plainly, and to make a joke in reply to one of Ackbar’s objections. Ackbar grants him his request, though in the form of a bet. It’s very unconventional, but then so is Wedge’s idea.
In the earlier-written books, although Wedge is clearly friends with Luke, Leia and Han, the relationship with them tends to come across as somewhat formal and respectful. In the X-wing books, these friendships seem more relaxed. Wedge is the most formal towards Leia; when she joins him outside on Noquivzor, she surprises him, and he automatically addresses her as ‘Highness’. Her immediate reaction is to tell him to be less formal, as they’ve known each other too long to stand on ceremony. Wedge rapidly relaxes and the conversation soon becomes personal, with Leia inquiring if Wedge has any romantic prospects. In return, Wedge asks about her and Han, and tells Leia she can come and talk to him about Han any time she’s feeling unsure. The conversation ends with Leia giving Wedge a parting kiss on the cheek.
With Han Solo, Wedge is far more relaxed. When Han arrives on Folor base, Wedge teases him and has Han believing his outrageous statements for a few moments. Han confides in Wedge about his feelings for Leia (at this time, Wedge probably knows more about the Han/Leia relationship than anyone else, including Han and Leia). They sympathise with one another about the difference between being an officer and being one of the men. Wedge provides moral support for Han during the search for Zsinj, most notably in his mutiny of irresponsibility on the Mon Remonda. Wedge is still half-inclined to see Leia as defined by her positions of Princess and politician, both roles that are worlds away from his own life. Han, however, is primarily defined as a pilot and Corellian smuggler, both of which apply to Wedge himself. While he certainly respects Han, he is less in awe of him than he is of Leia.
Of the three big heroes, Wedge seems to feel closest to Luke. They are much the same age, they flew together through Yarvin, and subsequently lived and worked in close proximity for three years, until after Hoth. ‘The Truce At Bakura’ showed us that Luke cares about Wedge – he rushes out to rescue him when Wedge has gone EV over Endor, and later checks first to see if Wedge has survived in the fighting at Bakura, before he thinks about anyone else. When Luke greets Wedge on Coruscant after Isard has fled, they hug, chat and joke in the manner of old friends. Luke asks for Corran, and invites Corran to join him and train as a Jedi. Wedge’s first reaction is jealousy – as fellow Jedi, Luke and Corran will be able to share something that Wedge can never be a part of. Luke’s increasing involvement with the Jedi is taking him away from Wedge, who considers him to be a special friend. Corran, who has only just met Luke, will be able to follow Luke along that new path, where Wedge cannot go. That poignant moment of jealousy over a changing friendship says plenty about Wedge’s feelings for his old friend.
Of course, Han, Leia and Luke are only guests in the X-wing stories. Most of Wedge’s time is spent with the pilots in his squadrons, and the three closest friends are Tycho, Wes and Hobbie. Tycho Celchu is an original creation by Michael Stackpole. He is introduced as a pilot who flew at Hoth, Endor and Bakura. In Wedge’s first scene in ‘Rogue Squadron’, he is fighting to persuade his superior officers to let Tycho join his new squadron. Wedge’s steadfast support of Tycho immediately establishes their strong friendship, and Wedge’s trust in his friend. Tycho is under official suspicion through the first three X-wing books, but at no point does Wedge ever seriously doubt his friend’s innocence. This in itself tells us a lot about Wedge. It shows his loyalty to his friends, and also reveals his stubbornness. Importantly, we see his level of self-belief. Only for a brief moment does Wedge admit to wondering if Tycho could be an Imperial spy, and he dismisses the thought immediately. He continues to believe that his opinion of Tycho is the right one, in spite of pressure from superior officers and the arguments of Corran, a former security officer. Wedge isn’t content to merely offer moral support to Tycho, he is so sure that he is right about Tycho that he puts Tycho in a position in the squadron that could be very dangerous, to the New Republic and to Wedge personally, if he is wrong. Using Tycho as his back-up man on Coruscant, prior to the conquest, is a move that could land Wedge in severe disciplinary trouble, even if Tycho does not betray them. Wedge believes that a secret backup is vital for the mission, so goes ahead regardless. Of course, Wedge is eventually proven right, and Tycho is cleared of all suspicion.
Tycho, Wes and Hobbie all serve to give us a clearer picture of Wedge, in what they say about him and how they react to him. All three are clearly very competent pilots and soldiers – Tycho and Hobbie have both graduated from the Imperial Academy – but all three are happy to have Wedge as their commanding officer. Tycho and Hobbie both have spells in command of various forms of Rogue Squadron, but both welcome Wedge back when he chooses to return. For Wedge to be so liked and respected by his peers as well as by the lowliest pilot, speaks well of him.
As well as developments in his professional life, Wedge becomes more rounded in his personal life through the X-wing series. In the comics we see him going out for the evening with the other Rogues and even agreeing to let Tycho set him up with a date. Wedge plays sabacc and gambles, well enough for Han Solo to enjoy playing against him in ‘Solo Command’. We learn that he can’t cook – at least, he can’t cook tauntaun well – and that he likes to drink, and prefers Whyren’s Reserve if he can get it.
Now we get a look at Wedge’s hope and dreams, and get a better idea of what motivated him to join the rebellion. He still thinks fondly of his lost family, and sometimes imagines how his life might have turned out if his parents had not been killed. When given the chance to paint his X-wing the way he wishes, Wedge picks the colour scheme his father had chosen for the chain of fuelling depots the family had been working towards owning. He tells Tycho that the colours will tie him to the home he should have had. Although the life of a combat pilot is ‘normal’ for Wedge, it is only normal in the sense that it is what he does every day. At heart, he wishes for his version of ‘normal’ to be in the sense of ‘how most people live’. Wedge feels that if he’d become a businessman, with a wife and family, he’d be happy. As a pilot, he is not completely happy with his life, but is content; he has friends and he’s doing an important job that he believes in.
He tells Leia that he’s too busy to go looking for love but that isn’t the whole truth. Wedge feels that entering a serious relationship, when there is a real chance of being killed, would be selfish: he doesn’t want to leave someone to grieve for him, the way he grieved for his parents. So he can’t bring himself to commit to love and family while there is such a risk of being killed, but he feels it would be selfish to move away from a life as a pilot in order to have a family in safety, while his skills are needed to protect other people and their families. Wedge believes that the Empire is a threat to the ‘home, job and family’ kind of normal, and that his abilities can help bring an end to that threat. He chooses to stay a pilot and fight for the sake of other families, sacrificing the happiness he would find in a family of his own. So Wedge settles for being content, while still hoping that one day he will have the chance for the peaceful, family life that will make him truly happy.
In spite of this philosophizing, Wedge is not immune to the charms of attractive females. Tycho doesn’t have to try too hard to persuade him to go on a blind date in ‘Mandatory Retirement’. Wedge seems comfortable with Reina, dancing with her at the officers’ club, holding hands and gazing happily at her. There’s nothing of the awkward schoolboy about him here. Nor is there in ‘The Krytos Trap’, when he’s watching a beautiful female Twi’lek dancer. Her dance is intended to be sensual, and it has the right effect on Wedge. He is sorely tempted by her offer of a ‘private dance’ but feels the timing is inappropriate, as he is on Ryloth on official business. Earlier on in the book, he reflects that he has ‘found companionship’ with a number of women in the Rebellion, though not a special partner. It’s an ambiguous phrase, but seems to be telling the reader that Wedge has had the relationships expected of a healthy young man, and carries a broad hint that he’s not a virgin.
This goes through his mind just before Wedge makes his first romantic overtures to the woman his fans have been waiting for. Iella Wessiri was introduced in the previous book, ‘Wedge’s Gamble’, as a member of New Republic Intelligence. She is also a Corellian, attractive, intelligent and capable of looking after herself. They work together well, and Wedge finds plenty to like about Iella. After the New Republic have taken Coruscant, Wedge steels himself to ask Iella out to dinner, convincing himself that he’s not asking for a date, just a friend asking another friend to share a meal, even though he knows he’s very attracted to her. He’s nervous, but thankfully he’s not portrayed as bashful or gauche.
Of course, this is set before Wedge meets and falls in love with Qwi, so this relationship can’t become permanent or he won’t be free for the blue birdbrain. So why introduce a prospective partner who will have to have vanished from Wedge’s life a few years later ? Maybe it was felt more realistic that Wedge would have least have met potential partners in the years before Qwi, even if the relationship doesn’t last: after all, he’s 31 when Qwi comes along. It could be that after poor fan reaction to Qwi, a decision was made to introduce someone more suitable as Wedge’s romantic interest. The romance with Iella is part of the development of Wedge as a leading character. The date-setting of the book also means that fan response to Iella can be gauged without a long-term commitment to the character. If the fans didn’t like her, she could be dropped from Wedge’s life without causing undue comment, as we know he has to be single for Qwi’s arrival.
Iella was a success with fans as well as with Wedge. The relationship couldn’t go ahead smoothly at this point, so first of all, Iella’s missing husband returns, and then Iella is unknowingly forced to shoot him. Diric is now conveniently dead, but of course she is grieving for him and so not ready to start a relationship with Wedge. They do begin to go out together occasionally – Allston has confirmed that it is Iella whom Wedge is going out with when Wes and Hobbie tease him in ‘Solo Command’ – but never settle into anything serious.
As the last X-Wing: Wraith Squadron novels were being published, in 1998, ‘I, Jedi’, by Michael Stackpole was also released. It’s set at the same time as the earlier-published Jedi Academy series, which puts it some three years after the last Wraith Squadron story, ‘Solo Command’. Wedge makes a couple of appearances and Stackpole takes the opportunity to clear up some of the mess that Anderson had made of Wedge’s character in the Jedi Academy trilogy.
In the Jedi Academy, Wedge requested a ground mission ‘for a change’. This seems to be as a change from four months of hauling debris out of the sky, or it could be a change from piloting in general. There is nothing more specific to go on about Wedge’s change of direction. In ‘I, Jedi’, Wedge explains to Corran that after eleven years of blowing things up, and seeing the devastation on Coruscant, following the Emperor’s return, he feels ready for a change. The change now has a more specific focus, and is tied into Wedge’s back story. In the last X-Wing comic, ‘Mandatory Retirement’, Wedge tells Tycho that when growing up, he wanted to be an architect. Now Wedge tells Corran the same thing, explaining why he’s working on the ground in the reconstruction.
A little later, Corran talks to Iella about Wedge. She thinks that Wedge is going through a transitional phase. After all, he was thrust abruptly from childhood to adulthood and has been under pressure since – trying to haul freight, smuggling guns, flying in combat and as an officer, taking responsibility for the lives of others. Her theory is that Wedge wants a break from all that: he wants to figure out who he is now, and what he wants from life. This theory makes Wedge’s behaviour in the Jedi Academy books more believable. Much as he loves flying with the squadron, he needs to find out if there’s more to himself than just Wedge Antilles, ace pilot. The rather random sequence of jobs now look more like Wedge trying out new things, rather than an author finding excuses to keep the character involved in the main plotline.
Stackpole also does his best with Wedge’s relationship with Qwi. First he has to explain why Wedge and Iella haven’t got together yet. Although they hit it off, their careers mean they’ve had less time to spend together and they’ve not seen one another for a while. Iella tells Corran that as Wedge is trying to find a new direction in his life, he doesn’t want reminders of his old life around. She intends to let him alone to find his own path, without pressure. Wedge tells Corran that he ought to get back in touch with Iella: he seems almost a little puzzled that they drifted apart, as though he’s not sure how he feels about it. Wedge seems a little wistful when Corran talks about Iella, and having a homeworld girl to share the galaxy with. He certainly seems to be thinking about a romance, and still carries fond thoughts of Iella.
Of course, he can’t fall in love with Iella now. But this Wedge, looking for a new life, new people and maybe romance, is now primed to fall in love. When Wedge and Qwi visit Yarvin and meet Corran, Corran spots what is happening pretty quickly. He warns Wedge that his feelings for Qwi may be largely a result of the situation, with the two of them being forced together against the outside world. Wedge defends himself, saying that he likes her innocence and sense of wonder.
The timing is perfect for the two of them to fall in love. Qwi is creating a whole new life for herself, and Wedge is searching for new meaning and direction in his own life. He can protect her and show her the galaxy he knows so well, seeing it anew through her eyes; she feels safe with him as he supports her first steps into a new life. Wedge is ready to love and Qwi is ready to be loved. Their relationship finally makes some kind of sense. What’s more, Wedge talks to Corran about Qwi and his feelings for her like a mature adult, not an awkward schoolboy. Stackpole has restored credibility to this part of Wedge’s life, but it’s too late for Qwi. She won’t be staying in Wedge’s life.
In 1997/8, Timothy Zahn’s Hand Of Thrawn duology was published. This story jumped forward in time, to 19 ABY and ends with the signing of a peace treaty between the New Republic and the Empire. Michael Stackpole and Zahn were in touch as this and the Rogue Squadron novels were being written, collaborating on the use of shared characters. However, it seems that while they conferred about Corran, Booster Terrik and Talon Karrde, they forgot to talk about Wedge.
Wedge’s first appearance shows him off-duty, wandering about a market, when he meets Lando Calrissian. From the conversation, it seems like they’ve not met since the war against Thrawn, ten years ago, or maybe even longer ago. Wedge initially addresses Lando rather formally as ‘General Calrissian’, and Lando reminds him that he resigned his commission years ago. Lando is then formally introduced to Tycho as though they’ve never met before. As Wedge, Tycho and Lando are all good friends of Luke and the Solos, it seems rather odd that they’ve apparently not met up on some occasion in the last decade or so. Wedge should certainly know that Lando is no longer part of the military.
As the Hand of Thrawn books come after the Corellian trilogy, Wedge is in the same position he was then, as commander of Rogue Squadron. How Tycho feels about losing his command to his former boss, we never know, but then Tycho is largely overlooked in the duology in favour of Wes and especially, Corran. Though Wedge has now been a general for ten years, and is the former head of Starfighter Command, he seems to be treated pretty much as he was back at the time of the first X-wing novels. Instead of being under Ackbar’s command, he and Rogue Squadron are now attached to General Bel Iblis and his fleet. Bel Iblis clearly respects Wedge, but in spite of all his experience, Wedge is largely acting directly on orders given from above, rather than being allowed to solve problems his own way.
He is present at a confidential meeting between Bel Iblis and Ackbar but contributes nothing other than a cynical sotto voce comment about politicians, which Ackbar appears to pick up on and ignore. Afterwards, Bel Iblis asks for Wedge’s opinions and listens, before giving him his orders. He sends Wedge off to do some intelligence work on the ground. It’s a compliment to Wedge, that Bel Iblis thinks he’s suitable, but sending someone as well known as Wedge on an undercover mission is a poor idea, and indeed Wedge is eventually recognized by the bad guys. Wedge is told to take Corran with him, as Corran’s father-in-law, Booster, has a network of potentially useful contacts. The author, Zahn, seems to have forgotten that Wedge also knows Booster, and in fact gets on better with him than Corran does.
Once on-planet, Wedge and Corran seem to lose all the street smarts shown in the X-wing books. They are quickly spotted as being from the New Republic, and probably military, and lose their wallets to a pair of pickpockets. It’s a remarkably poor showing for men with backgrounds in security and smuggling, who have both successfully worked undercover in the past. Their wallets are retrieved by a convenient shady character who’s working for Talon Karrde and the three team up. They spend a few days gradually working towards uncovering the bad guys’ plan, then Wedge and Corran are called away by Bel Iblis before the plotline is resolved. You are left with the feeling that Karrde’s contact could have managed perfectly well without them and this whole trip was concocted by the author simply to give the pilots something to do. For the rest of the story, Wedge is basically just in his familiar-face-in-the-cockpit role. He makes a few important decisions during various combats, repeating his role in the Thrawn trilogy, but is essentially just reacting to what others are doing, not initiating anything himself.
The trip planetside does include an accidental spoiler for Wedge’s personal life though. In the books published so far, Wedge has met Iella (Wedge’s Gamble, 7 ABY) and occasionally dated her (Solo Command, 7.5 ABY) before they began to drift apart (I, Jedi, 11 ABY), leaving Wedge single and ready to fall in love with Qwi (Jedi Academy, 11 ABY and Darksaber 12 ABY). In the next books in the timeline (New Rebellion, 17 ABY and the Corellian trilogy, 18 ABY), Wedge’s personal life is not mentioned. Now, in Vision of the Future (19 ABY) Corran says something that indicates Wedge and Iella are now together. It’s been seven years in-universe since the last mention of Wedge’s personal life, which is plenty of time for him to have split up with Qwi and found a new love. We haven’t seen any of this happen though: all we know is that Qwi is gone and Iella is back and in a more serious relationship than before.
In the next year, 1999, we get two more X-wing novels, one by Stackpole and one by Allston. The first released is Stackpole’s ‘Isard’s Revenge’, set in 9 ABY, right after the war against Thrawn. For Wedge, it begins with Admiral Ackbar finally persuading him to take the rank of general, thus contradicting the previous story of his promotion, given in the Jedi Academy Sourcebook. It’s a good scene: the two characters clearly know one another well and Ackbar uses his knowledge of Wedge to find the right lever to get him to accept the promotion. Wedge knows that Ackbar is using his attachment to his pilots as a lever, but accepts it because he realizes that Ackbar must have a good reason for using something not far off emotional blackmail. Wedge then shrewdly summarizes the political situation that’s motivating Ackbar, showing that he’s learnt a lot from when Leia was explaining things to him on Noquivzor, nearly three years earlier (in ‘Wedge’s Gamble’).
When he attends his first meeting as a general though, he still hasn’t fully caught up on the idea of being a general. He first goes to sit in his usual place, and is discreetly directed to the seats for staff officers. Once seated, he is greeted warmly and with respect by fellow officers. He introduces himself to an admiral, who replies that she’s heard of him, but then what Corellian hasn’t ? Wedge returns the compliment by recalling her actions during the evacuation from Hoth, several years earlier. He has a good memory, especially for people and military actions. It works in his favour, as it’s flattering to be remembered and people regard him fondly for it.
A recurring theme in the book is Wedge’s attitude to being a soldier, particularly in regard to his responsibility for those under his command. During the planning meeting, Admiral Ackbar mentions ‘acceptable loss parameters’. Wedge fully understands cost-accounting military operations from the point of view of resources and money. That makes sense to him. What he struggles with is the idea that personnel – lives – can be reckoned up in the same way, regardless of the situation. For something as devastating as a Death Star, he feels that any number of soldiers’ lives is acceptable as a price for its destruction, given how many more lives a Death Star could take. For Wedge, this is not merely a theory, he’s risked his own life twice to attack Death Stars, and has lost many friends and colleagues to them, but feels it was worth it. The planned mission to an unthreatening planet is not a matter of dire necessity but part of a politically motivated campaign. While Wedge agrees with the need for the attack, he doesn’t consider the loss of any life in it to be acceptable. Some loss of life is almost inevitable, but he doesn’t like the idea of measuring how many soldiers have to die for the number to be counted as unacceptable. In the same vein, while Wedge has ordered people into highly dangerous situations, he’s never ordered anyone on a suicide mission.
In the past, we’ve seen Wedge offer enemies a chance to surrender, instead of simply killing them. Here, he comes into combat against a pilot who is clearly inexperienced, and for a moment, wishes he didn’t need ‘to slaughter some kid on his first mission’. He does shoot and kill, though with no satisfaction. His feeling is that the young pilot had chosen to accept the risk of death when he got in his fighter, just as Wedge himself had done. Only one of them can win the fight and Wedge intends to stay alive, so he has to treat the novice like any other pilot, and kill him. It’s an interesting look at the mindset of a professional soldier. Wedge offers no mercy here, but there is a moment of remorse. He never forgets that anyone he kills, whether a novice or a warlord, is a living being like himself.
Later, Rogue Squadron are lured into an ambush of overwhelming odds. Only nine of the thirteen pilots are rescued and taken to their rescuers’ base. Wedge is numbed with shock and grief after the gruelling battle and the loss of nearly a quarter of his pilots. At first, that’s all he can think about, though he knows he should be concentrating more on their current situation. Realistically, he has different feelings about the different people lost. He knows he tends to be remote from new pilots, as they have the greatest likelihood of being killed. All the same, he had begun to think of the Rogue’s two new pilots by their first names; they’d become individuals, not just numbers. Asyr he had known much longer and much better. Wedge genuinely liked and admired her and her death hurts. The most painful loss of all though, is of Wes Janson. His death causes Wedge almost physical pain and brings him close to tears, even when being escorted through a strange military facility by a stranger.
Wedge is immediately confronted with his old enemy, Ysanne Isard, whom he had believed dead. He switches back into clear-minded officer mode and remains that way for most of the story. He cannot afford to think much about what has just happened, but must concentrate on keeping himself and his remaining pilots alive. It would have been good to see more of Wedge dealing with his grief while having to stay the cool-headed leader his pilots need. However, the emotional side of the story mostly goes to others, particularly Corran. Only weeks later, when he’s flying in disguise as Colonel Roat, do we see Wedge thinking about Wes and missing him. When he finds out that Wes has in fact survived, and is reunited with him, Wedge gives vent to his feelings with a whoop of joy and an impromptu dance. At last, Wedge can forget being an officer, and just react as a friend.
‘Isard’s Revenge’ offers us some interesting glimpses of Wedge as seen by other characters. In (reluctant) collaboration with Isard, he sends a message and a military plan to the New Republic. It says a lot about the New Republic’s faith in Wedge that they act fully on his message, committing themselves to military action and his plan. Isard’s top pilot, Colonel Vessery, respects Wedge and his pilots, and even admits so to Isard. Mirax and Iella both have plenty to do in the story, working to help the Rogues. Both are hard-hit emotionally when they believe Wedge has died. Booster is also fierce in his determination to avenge Rogue Squadron, which Mirax believes to be largely fuelled by his love for Wedge. This point is in distinct contrast to the scene in Zhan’s Hand of Thrawn duology, where there seems to be no connection between Wedge and Booster. Altogether, it’s clear that Wedge is a person well-liked and trusted by those who know him.
Just a few months later in 1999, Allston’s ‘Starfighters of Adumar’ was published. It is possibly the only adult Star Wars novel written entirely from the point of view of one character, (other than the first-person ‘I, Jedi’) and that character is Wedge. Ostensibly, the book is a story about bringing a new planet into alliance with the New Republic. In reality, it is a book about Wedge, who must make potentially life-changing ethical and personal decisions. ‘Starfighters of Adumar’ is sheer indulgence for any Wedge fan.
People who don’t like the book often complain that it’s not really an X-wing novel, and that there’s not enough action until near the end and nothing much has been happening. Actually, there’s plenty of drama, but it is about Wedge at a turning point in his life. If you’re looking for the kind of military sci-fi derring-do of the previous X-wing novels, you’ll find less of it. ‘Starfighters of Adumar’ is a rather odd book in that way. It was scheduled to be the last SW novel by Bantam, who offered the slot to Allston and, unusually, invited suggestions from him. He has said in interview that he had ideas for two relationship novels: one about the early days of Han and Leia’s marriage, and how Han adjusted to be married to someone with such a big role in the galaxy, and another story that resolved Wedge’s personal life. The comic, ‘Union’, was already being prepared, so it was fixed that Wedge ended up with Iella, and two girls, but Allston chose to write the story of how Wedge got there.
Allston starts by simply getting rid of Qwi. He has said that he wanted it to be dignified for both Qwi and Wedge, so for once, a relationship in Star Wars is ended not by death or incompatible life goals, but simply because the relationship has reached a natural end. Qwi and Wedge have both realized that their relationship is going nowhere and mutually agree to split. She speaks first about ending the relationship. Wedge could have remained silent, letting her do all the dirty work, but characteristically relieves her worries by admitting that he also had intended to split up with her. This reinforces his basic honesty: he’s quite capable of misleading and lying, but normally reserves that for enemies and politicians. He says that one of things he truly admires is courage, and he recognises the courage it took for Qwi to speak up about ending the relationship. In return, Wedge feels it would be ‘irresponsible, even cruel’, not to admit that he’d intended to break up with her that evening. As Qwi points out, not many men would have been so honest. This scene with Qwi gets her out of the way and also serves to show us that Wedge is a decent, fundamentally honest person. His compassion and decency will be severely challenged through the course of the book as he wrestles with ethical dilemmas.
Ending the relationship was the first stage for Wedge in reassessing his life. He wants time away from work to find out who he is, other than General Antilles of Starfighter Command. It’s exactly the dilemma that Iella had recognized he was in three years ago ( in ‘I, Jedi’). Back then, the relationship with Qwi had patched things over, but the patch didn’t last. Wedge describes his personal life as ‘a vacuum purer than anything in space’, which is very bleak. His lavish quarters on Coruscant are just that – military quarters, not a home. Wedge plans a leave of absence in order to travel. He wants to find out the secret that makes people’s housing their home: he desperately wants to replace the family home he lost years ago when his parents died. The answer, though Wedge hasn’t quite consciously grasped it, is in the word ‘family’.
The conflicting mess of Wedge’s career and love life created in earlier books is here resolved into a character-based drama about a man who’s very good at what he does, and proud of it, but ultimately unfulfilled by the life he’s fallen into. There’s a poignant irony in Wedge’s life. He’s lost his own family to crime and war and subsequently dedicated his life to making the galaxy better and safer for other families. Along the way, he’s discovered his own remarkable skills as a soldier and leader and feels compelled to use them for the sake of those other families. In doing so, he sacrifices his own hopes of a family life but as time passes, that yearning for a permanent family of his own becomes unbearable. Outwardly, Wedge’s life seems successful and fulfilled: inwardly, he’s empty and unsatisfied.
With Wedge’s personal dilemma set up, we then move onto the main thrust of the novel, with General Cracken resorting to emotional blackmail to get Wedge to take the assignment to Adumar. The two are of equal rank now, and as stubborn as one another. It ends with Wedge angrily warning Cracken that he’s getting close to violence, and Cracken wisely decides not to push him further.
Wedge resigns himself to his fate, and as he can take along three other pilots in his delegation, he chooses his oldest friends, Tycho, Wes and Hobbie. This leaves Rogue Squadron without its three most senior officers for a while, but presumably they aren’t doing anything important right now. What is important, is that Allston has put the ‘fab four’ together and proceeds to have a riot with them. This is the first time that all four have really shared page time since the X-wing comics. Hobbie gets more page time in this book alone, than in the rest of the EU novels put together.
We get another insight into Wedge’s feelings about himself as he introduces his pilots to Captain Salaban and Hallis. His first thought is that they are more striking than himself, with Wes especially, being good-looking and well-built. Wedge’s admirers have praised his features, his eyes and hair, but Wedge still considers himself to be ordinary-looking. There is a possible touch of vanity in that he wears his hair as long as military regulations allow. We are told that his hair moves in the lightest breeze in a way that invites ladies to run their hands through it so he may deliberately wear it in a way that produces this effect. Then again, Wedge may just like having long hair – the teenage Wedge in ‘The Phantom Affair’ comic wore a long ponytail – so he pushes the boundaries by wearing his hair as long as he can get away with.
Once on Adumar, the situation soon sours. Iella is there, but when Wedge talks to her, she is distant and finally admits that their friendship is over. Wedge has no idea how this has happened, and is hurt. His personal life seems even emptier than before and this pain nags at him, but he doesn’t have time to dwell on it. The local Adumari culture is based on building honour by winning duels. Life is held in light regard, and they duel to the death over almost anything. Wedge and the other pilots are sickened by this casual attitude to pointless death and he insists on only using targeting lasers in challenges from the locals. The New Republic’s local head of Intelligence, Darpen, believes Wedge would be more popular if he fought live-fire duels, in the local style, and orders Wedge to do so. Wedge refuses, but would have to obey a direct order from General Cracken. Communications off-world are controlled by Darpen: Wedge cannot contact Cracken himself and fears that Darpen will mislead him into issuing an order for live-fire duels. This puts Wedge in a dilemma.
His thinking eventually boils down to one question: if General Cracken ordered him to start slaughtering local pilot-duellists, what would he do ? This, really, is the crux of the novel. If he takes part in the live-fire duels, he’ll be killing Adumari pilots for no very good reason. They don’t want to fight him for justice or freedom; they are fighting purely for the prestige of killing others and being the best fighter. Wedge has committed his life to fighting, for deeper reasons, and loathes the idea of killing for the sake of killing. He’s killed too many people already in his life. Wedge justifies those lives he’s taken as being for the greater good. He’s killed to stop others being hurt. The idea of taking a life simply to gain prestige for oneself is deeply abhorrent and he feels the Adumari to be misguided. He doesn’t want to play along with their obsession, even though any duellists he killed would have been fighting him of their own free choice. Wedge will kill as part of a clear, military strategy, but not as part of a popularity contest with no specified rules or outcome.
It’s worth noting that through this internal debate, Wedge thinks about his reluctance to kill others without good reason, but not much about the potential risk to his own life. He certainly doesn’t want to be killed just so an Adumari can dine out on the story: Wedge values his own life too. Having flown against Adumari pilots, Wedge is confident that he’s better than them, although he’s wise enough to know he’s not invincible. For Wedge, the issue is not the risk to his life – he’s been risking his life for years – it’s the risk to his conscience that matters.
Wedge has to chose between his self-respect, and his life in the military. He thinks that ‘leaving the military would be the same as abandoning what little remained of his life’. If he resigns or is court-martialled, he’ll lose contact with his friends in the military, and his few non-military friends have busy lives that he’s not really a part of. He would be ‘as alone as a pilot who ejected into space with no hope of rescue’. It’s a desperately bleak option, but the alternative is to dishonour himself and his uniform by taking part in the live-fire duels.
This isn’t a simple, hero’s decision about risking his life to help others. Wedge does that for a living. This is a very personal crisis of a kind unusual in Star Wars books. Wedge has to make a difficult decision about his own life. No one else will be seriously affected by the outcome. We get a study of a man evaluating himself and his deepest beliefs. Even when Jedi ponder when and whether to use the Force, there is usually an aspect of choosing what is best for the galaxy in their thinking. Wedge’s dilemma is intensely personalized.
In keeping with the character we’ve seen before, Wedge chooses to sacrifice his personal life. He can more easily live a lonely life with a clear conscience, than he can live with others while knowing that he killed unnecessarily. Having come to the decision that this is what he will do if needed, Wedge decides to tackle another dilemma. He’s on the point of losing what his life has been, so he wants to know how he lost Iella’s friendship along the way. It seems as though his life can hardly get worse, so he might as well throw caution to the wind and ask her.
It would have been simple to write Qwi out of Wedge’s life, and have Iella move in. Instead, this change becomes part of the drama. It’s another obstacle for Wedge on his journey to personal fulfilment in this book. Thanks to Stackpole’s remedial work in ‘I, Jedi’, readers have seen how Wedge and Iella first drifted apart, and why Wedge fell for Qwi. We saw Iella’s point of view as Wedge was ready to fall in love; now we, and Wedge, discover her feelings about his relationship with Qwi. Having been badly hurt by her mistake in not telling him of her feelings, and by his subsequent actions, Iella’s injured pride makes her reject him. The scene is very well written. Wedge’s line: “It’s not leaving that’s hard anymore; it’s finding somewhere to go,” is very expressive of his situation. He’s on a mission he didn’t want, on the point of losing his career and friends, and now he’s lost the woman he truly loves, and his best chance of the family he longs for.
With his life, metaphorically, in danger, Wedge reacts like the soldier he is. He fights back by rejecting Iella’s order to leave, and trusts his own judgement. Swept off her feet by his declaration of love, and his kiss, Iella describes his sudden change as being ‘the cockpit Wedge. The one the enemy has boxed in and suddenly he snaps and goes off in an unanticipated direction, changing all the rules’. When she asks why she hasn’t seen this side of him before, Wedge tellingly says that he’s never been all that comfortable on the ground. He was too decent and honourable to press his attention on her after her first husband’s death. Only now, when the situation was urgent, does Wedge take command in his personal life, as he does in space as a pilot.
For the first half of the book, Wedge was a troubled man, doubting his own abilities, and uncertain of what to do and where he was going. Now, with love and the promise of family life with Iella, Wedge’s inner strength is renewed. He begins to take charge of the situation on Adumar, prompting Hobbie to ask who brought the old Wedge out of retirement. Indeed, Wedge is so liberated by his newly acknowledged love, he fools around in the street and succeeds in embarrassing Wes Janson, of all people. Although still in the middle of a life-threatening crisis on Adumar, Wedge is light-hearted in a way we’ve rarely seen from him before. We’ve seen him laughing, relaxing and enjoying himself in other books, but at moments during the conflict on Adumar, he’s happy within himself in a way he’s not been previously. He loved Qwi, but was first her guide and protector. She was there at the right time in his life, but was ultimately the wrong person. Iella is more his equal – always the right person, and now, at last, at the right time. In a hangar on a starship before the final battle of the book, Wedge feels like he is almost at home, as he’s spent so much time around the smells and sounds of hangars. It’s not home though: home will be wherever he and Iella choose to live together. At the beginning of the book, he was about to set out on a quest to find what made a place a home. Now he knows, and has one of his own, at last.
The Qwi/Iella situation has been resolved and very well too. The different elements of Wedge’s personal life – the loss of his parents , Qwi, his thoughts about family life and reasons for joining the Rebellion, Iella – from several authors and sources, finally come together to make a satisfying journey for the character. Wedge first appeared as a young man, orphaned just two or three years earlier. He was shown as the dedicated soldier, his life bound to the military and to protecting others. There was the rather naïve romance, and then the look back into his life and the undercurrent of longing for his own family, which eventually explained the boyish romance. He outgrows that relationship and is finally ready to act and find for himself the love, home and family he’s missed since his parents’ deaths. From now on, Wedge will be a different person. He’s still a soldier, but also a husband and father.
His next appearance was just three months after the publication of ‘Starfighters Of Adumar’, in the comic ‘Union’, written by Michael Stackpole. It is set in 19 ABY, so shortly after the events of the ‘Hand of Thrawn’ books and thus further ahead than we’ve seen before in the timeline. ‘Union’ is about the wedding of Luke and Mara and although there’s some plotting from dissident Imperials to add drama, the story is mostly domestic. We get a rare and rather endearing look at our galaxy-changing heroes as an ordinary group of friends, preparing to celebrate together.
We see Wedge at home with his family, looking very relaxed and off-duty. Not only is Iella there, we learn that they have two daughters, Syal and Myri. The girls are named for Wedge’s missing sister, and after Mirax’s childhood nickname. These ties to his blood and adoptive families makes sense, as we know how important family is to Wedge. The names link his past to his future. The reader is left wondering about Iella’s family though. We don’t know what her maiden name is, what family she may have on Corellia or why both children have names that are important to her husband but don’t seem to have a direct connection to her history.
Wedge has learned about the wedding not from Luke, but from Leia. Although Myri is throwing her food around, and Syal is sulking at being told off, Wedge looks blissful, and says that he hopes Luke and Mara will be as happy as they are. Later, we learn from Iella that the party at their wedding was a fairly modest affair. Wedge teams up with Han to lure Luke out for what they claim is the Corellian tradition of bachelor drinks before the wedding. Of course they have arranged for a group of his male friends to be at the bar; Wedge has used his position as a general to make it possible for military personnel like Tycho and Gavin to attend. After the bar-room brawl, Wedge gets that “Do you want your daughters to know what you were doing ?” look from Iella.
Wedge, with other close male friends, gives Luke advice on married life. There’s teasing, but also genuine advice and it’s great to see the camaraderie between the friends. When the trouble starts at the wedding, Wedge immediately takes command, issuing orders to some of the most famous men in the galaxy, including Luke. No one argues, which says a lot for their opinion of Wedge. Luke, Han, Tycho, Gavin, Corran, Talon Karrde and Kam Solusar all defer to him in the heat of battle. It’s a remarkable compliment really, but Wedge has earned their trust through twenty years of warfare.
At this point, Del Ray took over the novel contract. With peace signed at last between the New Republic and the Empire, they needed a new enemy for the heroes, preferably one that would provide opposition for some time to come, rather than producing a series of villain-of-the-week novels. They started with an ambitious, multi-authored 19 book story about the Vuuzhan Vong. These extra-galactic invaders were an enemy to New Republic and Empire alike.
In a series written by many authors, spanning four in-universe years, and covering a galaxy-wide story with a cast of hundreds of named characters, not all of those characters are going to appear consistently. The second and third books were the Dark Tide duology by Michael Stackpole. He brought Wedge into the storyline, putting the character right in the action. Wedge’s connections with Luke, Leia, Han and the military are established for new readers. Wedge largely represents the regular military through the series.
In the books that concentrate more on the Jedi, politics and personal stories, Wedge is either barely mentioned, or completely absent. Where the story is more about the battlefield, Wedge is more prominent, and often central to the action. Sometimes he functions in his old role as a familiar name, personalizing the many nameless soldiers who are fighting in the background while the heroes take the front of stage. As a senior general, Wedge does now make more decisions than he did as a pilot. He is involved in more high-level planning and instigates more actions. In Allston’s Enemy Lines duology, and in ‘The Final Prophecy’, Wedge is at the heart of things as much as he was in the X-wing novels.
The first mention of Wedge is when Han, grieving and feeling guilty over the death of Chewbacca, storms out with the intention of getting drunk. Leia tells Threepio to call Wedge or any of the other retired Rogues, to keep an eye on Han. She names Hobbie and Janson specifically, but Wedge is the first person she thinks of to cope with Han in his trouble. Luke might otherwise be her first choice, but he is not on planet: it says a lot about the relationship between Wedge and the Solos that Leia should turn to him next.
We learn later that Wedge and Tycho retired after peace was made with the Imperial Remnant. They had a silver ring made up, with the Rogue Squadron insignia and a colonel’s rank insignia either side, and presented it to Gavin Darklighter, their choice to command the Rogues, over a dinner at a smart restaurant. They go out of their way to reassure Gavin of their faith in his ability to follow in their footsteps as Rogue Leader. We don’t know what Wedge has been doing in retirement – spending time with his family and raising his daughters seems to be most likely. When the scale of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion begins to come clear, and the need for a strong military response, Wedge and Tycho feel that their skills will be needed again. Wedge still gets information from military sources about what’s going on, so he’s clearly in touch with old acquaintances. He says that they’re too old to fly, but not to old to help out. At first, they contact Gavin with an offer to help, but it seems that their commissions are reactivated and they are soon back in regular service
Once Starfighters of Adumar came out, shortly followed by Union, Wedge was established as married to Iella, with two daughters by the time of the peace treaty with the Empire. So in the Vong War, the character has new worries and responsibilities. However, as Wedge mostly appears in his military role in the New Jedi Order books, his family get pushed into the background.
They don’t even get a mention until Aaron Allston’s Enemy Lines duology, set just after the fall of Coruscant. Although we see Wedge’s part in the defence of Coruscant in Star By Star, the book concentrates the bulk of the story, and the emotion, on other characters. Wedge lives on Coruscant, so his family must be there, but he appears purely in his role as a soldier, with nothing on how he feels about his family below on the planet being attacked. The Enemy Lines books are heavily centred on Wedge, however, and Allston reminds readers that like the Skywalkers and Solos, Wedge too is carrying a very personal fear for his family as he fights.
He is all business, the dedicated soldier, as he retakes Borleias from the Vong. Underneath his professional calm, however, is anxiety. During a briefing meeting, as he speaks about the disaster the New Republic has just experienced, Wedge momentarily hesitates. His family were involved in that disaster, being on Coruscant, and he hasn’t heard from them since. Luke briefly senses the pain he feels, but Wedge is strong-willed, and continues his job of briefing his troops. Only afterwards, speaking more privately with Luke and Mara, does his composure crack at all. Again, Wedge swiftly represses his feelings, and quickly leaves with Tycho. As strong as the friendship is between Wedge and Luke, Wedge prefers to keep his fears to himself. Mara, a powerful Jedi master, comments to Luke that she finds Wedge hard to read.
The conflict between military duty and family duty is played out through Wedge in the Enemy Lines books. Military duty had prevented him from carrying out his duty to his family at Coruscant. On Borleias, he has to suppress his worries about his family in order to carry out his duty of leading his shocked and defeated troops and rallying them after the fall of Coruscant. When forming the Insiders, Wedge speaks of how the Vong intend to reshape the galaxy to fit their own view of life, obliterating everything that he and the others stand for. He says that he won’t let that happen to his daughters, or to anyone else’s children. Typically, families are at the heart of his thinking, even though he doesn’t know if his own children are still alive. He will take on the mission of defeating the Vong for the sake of the other families in the galaxy.
Happily, a few days later, Iella, Syal and Myri arrive on Borleias and Wedge can finally relax and display his feelings. He tells Iella how hard it was for him to tell himself that he couldn’t try to help them during the invasion, and that he could save lives by staying with the fleet and doing his duty. He admits that although he trusted her to get herself and children off-planet, the worry had been eating him up inside. Without them, all he’d had was an impersonal mission. Now his children are safe, Wedge feels he, personally, has a future: his daughters are ‘a future he could hold to himself, a future he could hold and squeeze and smell’. The girls are on Borleias for about a month, before being sent to the Jedi Shelter in the Maw for safety. In this time, we only get a brief glimpse of Wedge as a parent, just as the girls are about to leave. We are shown that Syal speaks and acts like a child trained to think and express her emotions clearly. Wedge listens to her, and explains simply why it’s better for the girls to leave their parents. He’s tactile with his daughters, hugging them and picking them up. Both girls join in happily when Han offers piggyback rides to the Millennium Falcon; in spite of what they’ve recently been through, they are still ready to be playful. The girls also seem to be bright and capable. On board the Falcon, Tarc complains that the other kids are better at the games than he is, specifically including Syal and Myri who are the only other non-Jedi children. Leia later comments that Wedge’s girls will manage among the young Jedi, unlike Tarc, and just subvert the Maw’s administrators to get what they want.
Wedge’s family gets expanded in a new way in the New Jedi Order series. After a long gap, his sister and her family finally reappear. Michael Stackpole introduces Jagged Fel in the Dark Tide books. The character is named for Wedge and Syal’s father, a clear reminder of his ties to Wedge, though his surname is Fel, and he dresses and acts more like an Imperial soldier. Unsurprisingly, Wedge is pleased to meet his nephew. Jag says to Jaina that Wedge was hurt by Syal’s departure from the New Republic but presumably Jag explains her reasons to his uncle. In any case, Wedge happily accepts his nephew, hugging him in public.
They work together more in Allston’s Enemy Lines duology. In military matters, Wedge treats Jag in the same way as any other skilled soldier. He’s aware of how good Jag is as a pilot, and proud of him, but knows he cannot play favourites or seem to be over-protective of his nephew. He’s not above gently teasing Jag, especially over his formality. Jag’s formal, disciplined approach is very different to Wedge’s style. When Jag deliberately defies a command from Wedge, in order to protect Jaina, Wedge speaks about discipline, but in private with Tycho, admires Jag’s unorthodox tactics. In future series, Jag will go on to take more after the Antilles side of his family, but this is where the change starts, thanks in good part to Wedge’s direct influence, showing him a new way of thinking.
In the early X-wing novels, we saw how Wedge was regarded by the newer and younger pilots. In the NJO, we see him from the perspective of the next generation, mostly that of Jaina. She joins Rogue Squadron in the first Dark Tide book, and loves flying with them. It brings her into contact with Wedge as part of the military, rather than as a family friend, and her experiences with the squadron help her appreciate exactly what he achieved when he flew with them. When new pilots are being recruited for the squadron, Jaina is impressed that Wedge and Tycho flag the same candidates as unsuitable as she does. She has the Force to draw on, but they manage without. Jaina is smart enough to realize that Wedge has decades of experience and she gains a new appreciation for the skills of non-Jedi. It also increases her respect for Wedge in particular. Early on, she admits that Wedge and Tycho both vape her regularly in the sims, and of course do so without using the Force. Corran tells her that they can both vape him, too.
In the penultimate book of the series, The Final Prophecy, by Greg Keyes, Wedge talks about the previous battle of Bilbringi with a lieutenant some twenty years younger than himself. He is surprised by how much she knows about his part in the battle, especially as she was only ten years old at the time. The lieutenant replies that the media made a big fuss about it on the vids. Although Wedge refers to the battle as ancient history, his name and reputation have not been forgotten by the younger generation.
Aaron Allston has said that the brief for his contribution to the NJO series was that this was the point where the New Republic begin to fight back. He takes the opportunity to put Wedge into a major role, using the tactical skills and unconventional thinking we’ve seen in the X-wing books, to finally achieve a real victory over the Yuuzhan Vong.
Previously in the Vong war, Wedge has been working in conjunction with the fleet. He’s involved in planning at fleet level but has had to work within their restrictions, using plans signed off by his superiors. On Borleias, he is on his own and can improvise and bluff in characteristic style. In many ways, the situation is similar to his war against Isard on Thyferra: he’s on his own, outnumbered and outgunned and has to be inventive. One of Wedge’s great strengths is his ability to get into his enemy’s head. Thrawn studied a species’ art to understand them; Wedge studies their warfare. He works with Tycho, playing the role of the Vong, while Tycho plays Wedge’s role so they learn both how the Vong think, and how the Vong think that the New Republic think.
Wedge misleads and bluffs, distracting the Vong by offending their sensibilities with the Starlancer Project so they waste resources in trying to destroy it. He also draws upon his twenty years’ experience in fighting the Empire, something few others of the New Republic’s senior officers can boast of. On Borleias, Wedge lures the Vong into a trap which he springs using a weapon never used before in the New Republic. With Vong ground forces gathered around the base, the Lusankya unleashes an orbital bombardment that annihilates them. It’s a ruthless move, unsparing of any New Republic personnel who didn’t make it into the safety zone in time, but it’s a purely military attack. The Empire used orbital bombardment against civilians; Wedge only uses it against enemy soldiers.
There are other times when Wedge has to be ruthless for the sake of military success or to save lives. In The Final Prophecy, by Greg Keyes, Wedge lets allies die. At Duros, he refuses to tell the Duros commander why he is just holding the Vong in place without attacking, and he refuses to help when the Duros attack against his orders, and are wiped out over the next few hours. There are sound military reasons why Wedge cannot either explain or join the attack, but it takes strength of will to let the Duros be wiped out without trying to help. He feels afterwards that the Duros commander should have been told the truth in advance. He regrets that the Duros died, but doesn’t regret sticking to the plan when the Duros disobeyed orders. Later, at the disastrous battle of Bilbringi, Wedge decides to order his battered ship to jump to hyperspace even though it means leaving behind Jaina Solo and two-thirds of her squadron, who are on the Golan Battle Station. He hates to leave them behind, especially as their actions have given his fleet the chance of escape, but he can’t risk his ship to try to pick them up. As he’s on the point of giving the order to jump, he gets a message from Leia telling him not to worry about the battle station. The Golan is, unusually, hyperspace capable, and can follow him with Jaina and her pilots aboard, but Wedge didn’t know that when he made the decision not to try to rescue them.
Afterwards, Admiral Pellaeon apologizes to him for not jumping his fleet to Bilbringi when he realized that communications were down. Wedge is not angry with him: the plan was specific that the other fleets were not to join him at Bilbringi unless he specifically sent a message giving the all clear. He says that if he had been in Pellaeon’s place, he would have stuck to the plan and not jumped in blind. It’s interesting to consider if Wedge would have jumped in to help if he’d only been commanding a squadron, and not a fleet’s worth of lives.
Wedge hasn’t had a change of character and become cautious and cold-hearted though: he is still willing to put his own life at risk for the sake of others – that much hasn’t changed. In the second Enemy Lines book: Rebel Stand, Wedge gets what must be the best battle scene for a single starfighter pilot in the whole of Star Wars. Alone, with not so much as an astromech unit in his X-wing, he takes out first a coralskipper and a rakamat, then he fights an entire squadron of skips. Single-handedly, he destroys ten skips and damages the other two. Wedge has been fighting to buy time for a freighter full of civilians to make the run from the planet into hyperspace. When a second squadron appear, his fighter is damaged and shieldless. Wedge could escape but only by abandoning the civilians. He’s already done more than any single pilot could reasonably be expected to do to help them, but Wedge cannot abandon them now. If he did, ‘it would just give him time to tidy up his affairs before guilt – the crushing weight of responsibility abandoned – caused him to find some other way to die’. It’s a moving moment: Wedge is flying in a borrowed fighter, under another pilot’s callsign, and thinks that his wife and daughters will probably never know how or when he died. Knowing that he has no chance of survival, he turns back to fight the skips anyway, to buy the freighter the time it needs at the cost of his life.
However, Wedge is too major a character in the Star Wars universe to be killed off by having him sacrifice himself for a bunch of anonymous civilians. It would be in character for him, but as Allston has said regarding character deaths, a significant character must die for a significant reason. Being killed off for the sake of some extras might be a noble sacrifice but there’s less emotional weight to it. Therefore, help shows up and Wedge is rescued, after a rather condescending comment from his former protégé, Gavin Darklighter, who doesn’t know who is inside the badly damaged X-wing. Sadly, we never get to see Gavin’s reaction when he discovers who he was speaking to.
The Final Prophecy (2003) gives Wedge his best role in the New Jedi Order outside of Aaron Allston’s books. After Wedge’s tough stance at Duros, we see him taking part in a meeting discussing the next stage of the campaign against the Vong. The question of Alpha Red, the bioweapon engineered against the Vuuzhan Vong is raised, and Wedge firmly vetoes the idea: ‘Genocide is what the Emperor did. It’s what the Yuuzhan Vong do. It’s not what we do. If it is, I’m fighting for the wrong cause’. Once again we see the ethical distinction that Wedge draws between reasons for killing. He knows by now that Yuuzhan Vong soldiers are not true volunteers – they fight because they have been indoctrinated from birth by a martial culture where death in combat is an act of faith – but he has no hesitation in killing them. Wedge doesn’t believe that negotiation is possible, and as the Vong have demonstrated that they intend to conquer his galaxy and to wipe out the history, cultures and everything that is not themselves, they must be stopped. The only way to stop them is to kill the Vong’s warriors and leaders, so Wedge will do that because it is necessary. Killing females and children is not necessary in order to stop the war, so Wedge will not knowingly target them. He does destroy a Vong worldship at Borleias but it is not known if there were civilians aboard.
While Jedi are off on Zonama Zekot, dealing with mysteries of the Force, Wedge is representing the non-Jedi action. He is commanding a fleet in a major battle, again deprived of backup and forced to improvise. Han and Leia show up to help out, but this part of the story is really Wedge’s. There are references to Wedge’s past: his part in trying to mislead Thrawn that Tangrene was the New Republic’s target and in the actual battle of Bilbringi; Pash Cracken is commanding a ship in Wedge’s fleet, and they chat as old friends; he realizes from the appearance and disappearance of the Golan II station that it has the cloaking technology that Thrawn used. Wedge’s abilities to read the enemy and bluff or attack accordingly are used well here. This is the brilliant commander of ‘The Bacta War’ and ‘Enemy Lines’. It makes you wonder why the GA never promoted him to admiral.
Wedge is, naturally, present at the final battles of the war, in ‘The Unifying Force’ by James Luceno (2004). When he’s first introduced in the book, Wedge is actually described as ‘handsome’, by the author. Other than facts about his height, build and colouring, Wedge’s looks have barely been described before – possibly because unlike, say, Tycho, he can be seen in the films. The only other subjective opinions we get of him are from Wedge himself, in ‘Starfighters of Adumar’ and ‘Betrayal’, and he’s not impressed with his own appearance. After this, we get a rather unnecessary and clunky paragraph summarizing Wedge’s past achievements. The book is written on the assumption that the reader has been following the Vong War story, so a sudden info-dump of stuff that readers will largely be aware of seems clumsy. What is nice is the thought from Han that if Jaina and Jag do get together, then the Solo and Antilles families will be even more closely tied together. Other writers tend to forget that Jag and Wedge are closely related.
During the final battle scenes, there’s so much going on, primarily on Coruscant itself, that we only get glimpses of Wedge’s part. In a nice touch, Wedge gets to be present at the scene where Vong warriors are brought to the surface of Zonoma Sekot and their bioweapons freed by the living planet. He’d left the fleet battle to try and stop a Vuuzhan Vong poison ship from infecting the planet. Decades before, at Yarvin, Wedge had supported another small ship trying to slip past defences to destroy something the size of a moon. This time, he’s in a fighter, trying to defend a planet against a small, deadly ship. As at Yarvin and Endor, he's flying a Red Squadron ship, and with ironic humour, as this time he’s trying to stop the attacking ship, Wedge chooses the call sign ‘Vader’.
More than any of the other characters, Wedge draws on his experiences fighting the Empire in the fight against the Vong. He surprises the Yuuzhan Vong at Borleias with the Imperial tactic of orbital bombardment, something never done before by the New Republic. This action is part of a decision about how to fight the war formulated on Borleias by Wedge and his close associates: Luke, Tycho, Mara, Booster, Lando, Danni Quee, Corran and Gavin. Wedge calls them to a meeting after Councillor Pwoe’s visit, and opens the discussion, stating that Pwoe’s actions indicate that the Advisory Council have given up on the New Republic. Given the political power they have, he fears that they could doom the New Republic. Wedge refuses to let this happen.
Mara points out that if Wedge uses his New Republic position to acquire goods and materiel for the proposed Resistance, he will be effectively guilty of treason, even if they win. He could end up labelled as a traitor, at the least. Wedge is the senior of the New Republic officers present; the others can claim they acted on his orders, but Wedge would have no such defence. Wedge decides that the risk to the galaxy posed by the inaction of the New Republic government is more important than the risk to his reputation or even his life. Once again, Wedge chooses to do what he believes to be right, rather than blindly obeying authority.
As the New Republic had been shown as corrupt and failing during the early part of the war, the big heroes – the Skywalkers and Solos – would have taken a major role in cleaning up the New Republic’s act anyway. If there had not been the scene with Pwoe and the subsequent meeting on Borleias, then Luke or more probably Leia, would have been the one to declare the New Republic effectively dead and to start thinking about limiting the damage the old regime could do to the war effort. It needs to be done in the overall storyline of the Vong War, and it’s the kind of large-scale moral issue that readers expect the stars of the show to instigate. Instead though, this important moment of change goes to a supporting character. Wedge is the military commander on Borleias, but he has no actual authority over Luke, Lando or Booster. However, he leads the meeting and they freely accept his authority. The characters here, no matter how famous, consider Wedge an equal; they listen when he speaks against the failing New Republic and wait for him to make the final decision on founding the Insiders. They know him and trust him: to them, there’s no reason why Wedge shouldn’t be the leader here. To the reader though, this is the level of leadership is more usually reserved for the centre-stage stars Instead, Luke merely advises Wedge, and Leia and Han aren’t even present.
The book after the events on Borleias, ‘Destiny’s Way’, by Walter Jon Williams (2003) acknowledges Wedge’s role in changing the political situation in the galaxy. ‘Councillor Pwoe had declared himself in charge…he might have gotten away with it had the Borleias campaign gone differently – Pwoe had expected the defenders to buy time with their own annihilation, but instead Wedge Antilles and his scratch force had held out for much longer than expected, their example an inspiration to the remnants of the New Republic’. Wedge himself does not appear in the novel, he’s away on military matters. It’s up to the Solos and Skywalkers to do the political manoeuvring so the Chief of State elections result in a new kind of government and the subsequent founding of the GFFA.
Wedge’s leadership at the moment of political crisis is thereafter largely forgotten in the books. His military role on Borleias is remembered, but the moment when he laid the groundwork for the change from the New Republic to the Galactic Alliance is generally overlooked.
Wedge’s defiance of Pwoe is a new aspect to the character that appears first in the New Jedi Order books. He has stood up to politicians before – notably, Borsk Fey’lya – but often with the sense that he was at a disadvantage, being just a commander and politically inexperienced. Now he seems more confident of his place among the highest levels of authority. In the NJO, Wedge is shown not only taking an active part in the highest-level strategy meetings, but taking his position as a senior officer for granted. At a planning meeting with General Bel Iblis, Admiral Kre’fey and the Supreme Commander, Admiral Sovv, Wedge is treated as an equal and has no hesitation in giving his opinion.
It seems that Wedge is perhaps more aware of himself as more experienced than almost every other officer in the fleet – Bel Iblis being the principal exception. He’s seen more combat than the two admirals put together and expects to be treated with the respect due a senior officer.
Pwoe insults Wedge from the beginning of their meeting on Borleias, by using his own security instead of trusting Wedge’s, and by announcing Wedge’s orders in front of his subordinates. In return, Wedge doesn’t immediately accept his orders, but questions Pwoe about them. His flat, though politely-worded refusal, puts Pwoe in his place. Pwoe hasn’t treated Wedge with respect, so Wedge feels no need to help Pwoe save face. He remains polite on the surface, but ruthlessly forces Pwoe to accede to his demands in front of a full meeting room. It’s more than just a matter of pride, though. Pwoe’s disrespect undermines Wedge’s authority in front of his subordinates. Wedge needs the respect and trust of his men in order to be a successful commander, especially just after the military and political failures around the fall of Coruscant. By forcing the ‘Chief of State’ to give in to his demands, Wedge shows his power, and as his demands are military and include freedom to act without political influence, he proves that his sympathies are with those of the ordinary soldiers, not the politicians.
Afterwards, when Luke asks him why he accepted the hopeless job of defending Borleias, Wedge answers: “… if you’ll permit me a little ego here, I don’t think they’d appoint someone as skilled as I am to replace me here.” He’s not boasting – Wedge is stating a fact, and no one disagrees with him. He was the most decorated pilot in the fleet, and in the Vong war, he really proves, to himself and others, that he’s just as good at fleet actions. Although he’s not boastful, Wedge is proud of himself as a soldier; he’s proven his ability and expects to be respected for it. He can still laugh when Gavin insults him after the evacuation of Borleias, because he knows it was unintentional and that Gavin will be mortified when he finds out who he was addressing.
Although Wedge held the rank of general in a dozen or so of the Bantam books, he rarely seemed to be portrayed as having the same degree of respect and authority as characters like General Bel Iblis. Most of the time he was following orders issued by others, rather than deciding policy or strategy himself. His career was inconsistent, with storylines written out of order. In ‘Starfighters of Adumar’, he commanded a task force, with the Lusankya, the largest ship in the New Republic fleet, as his flag ship. Three years later, in ‘The New Rebellion’, he’s Head of Starfighter Command, and appears to be suitably senior. A year after, in The Corellian Trilogy, Wedge is back to leading Rogue Squadron and being ordered about like he was ten years earlier and it’s much the same in the Hand of Thrawn books that follow. In the Hand of Thrawn books there’s very little to suggest that he’s a general with twenty years of active service, half of them as a general
At last, in the NJO, the character really gets shown as the senior officer he should have been portrayed as before. Even in the books where he’s only playing a minor role, or just mentioned, he’s consistently shown as a respected, valued officer. In ‘Star by Star’ Viqi Shesh refers to Wedge and Bel Ilbis as ‘two of our best generals’. She’s trying to turn opinion against Luke by suggesting that he’s influencing the New Republic’s most important officers, but her wording puts Wedge on a par with Bel Ilbis. Fey’lya then uses Wedge’s holo, along with those of Bel Iblis, General Rieekan, Admiral Kre’fey and other senior officers, and refers to them as high officers who have contacted him. He’s bluffing but it speaks for the general opinion of Wedge that Fey’lya should include him among the names he uses to influence the senate.
Once the Vong war is over, the general who has thoroughly proven his military and political skills, and earned respect throughout the GA, vanishes back into retirement. Wedge agrees with Tycho that his wife is behind his decision to retire, but a few moments later, he drops the joking and says that he’s ready for the quiet life. It’s quite in character that after another five years of war, and separation from his family, Wedge wants nothing more than to be spending time with his family again, raising his children. While peaceful retirement makes sense for Wedge, it’s less satisfying for his fans.
The EU timeline continues on through the Dark Nest books, but Wedge is completely absent from them. New material about Wedge has to be set further back in his timeline, before his second retirement to family life.
In 2005 he starred in ‘Lucky’, a comic story in the SW Tales series. It’s a flashback story, with the main story set shortly before he joins the Rebellion. We get a nice glimpse of Wedge as a struggling young trader/smuggler but the story throws up relationships we’ve never heard of before, and gives a new motivation for him to join the Rebellion. The girl, Mala, has never been mentioned before: Wedge has never even thought about her. When he’s planning to ask Iella out for the first time, he thinks of women in the Rebellion he’s ‘found companionship’ with, but there’s no hint of any teenage relationships, let alone one that ended in tragedy. When he thinks about the people he’s known over the years who have been killed, Wedge has never thought of Mala. Introducing an important figure in his early life, who will never be mentioned or thought of again, is just clumsy.
‘Lucky’ goes on to show Wedge joining the Rebellion partly from guilt at not doing so earlier, and also to avenge Mala’s death by the Empire. This is a complete change from what we’ve seen before. There’s never been any hint that Wedge joined for personal, emotive reasons like revenge. In ‘Starfighters of Adumar’ he thinks that ‘he had joined a cause, the Rebel Alliance, that was aligned with his particular set of ethics and beliefs’. Changing his motivation to revenge makes Wedge seem less like an idealist and more like a sulky teenager. And if his desire to avenge Mala was strong enough to make him become a starfighter pilot, then her complete absence from his thoughts and memories afterwards makes even less sense. Altogether, the story just creates an inconsistent, nonsensical blip in Wedge’s life that’s best ignored. What’s more, the artwork is shockingly ugly too.
Wedge has supporting roles in stories of the ‘Rebellion’ and ‘Empire’ comic series. These are set between roughly 0BBY and 2ABY, so we get another glimpse of Wedge’s earlier days. He’s seen in Red Squadron in ‘Darklighter’, part of a close group with Biggs, Porkins, Hobbie and Doc Eirriss. One panel shows him in a rather familiar pose with Doc, a female Twi’lek. Although both are looking towards the injured Hobbie, their bodies are facing one another and almost touching, and Doc appears to have one hand resting on Wedge’s shoulder, though the drawing is rather ambiguous. There’s no hint anywhere else of a relationship, but maybe Doc’s one of the female Rebels that Wedge ‘had found companionship with’. Other than this, he’s really just a familiar name in the story. The artwork isn’t generally great, though there’s an interesting panel depicting the pre-Battle of Yarvin briefing room scene. Luke and Wedge are at the back of the group, delivering the famous womp rat argument. The illustrations of Wedge in the story have been poor, with little resemblance to Denis Lawson. In the briefing room panel only, Wedge looks distinctly like Colin Higgins, the actor who played him in this one scene in the movie before being replaced thereafter by Denis Lawson.
The comics don’t allow much room for character development, especially not of supporting characters like Wedge. He’s generally the loyal, brave pilot who stands by his friends, rescuing them or buying them the time to rescue themselves. He shows leadership, especially in battle, but isn’t yet caught up with the duties and burdens of regular command that he’ll have in the X-wing comics and later. Wedge generally seems more relaxed here– leaning against a ship’s wall; wearing his sleeves rolled up. There’s still the occasional touch of the typical Corellian hotshot about him. When Luke’s X-wing fails when he is being pursued by a TIE, Wedge says he’s too busy fighting another TIE himself to come and help. Then at the last moment, he swoops into view, blowing away the TIE that was about to vape Luke. When Luke asks how he managed to get free in time, Wedge’s reply is: “What can I say ? When you’re good, you’re good.” It’s a nice touch, especially as it’s Luke Skywalker that Wedge is cheerfully bragging to. Not many other pilots would have the nerve to speak to Luke like that and it’s good to see them depicted as friends who can tease one another. Their friendship is already built in the books set later on. In ‘The Krytos Trap’, (7ABY) for example, Wedge reflects that Luke had always been a special friend; Luke rushes to rescue his friend, Wedge, in the opening of ‘A Truce At Bakura’ (5ABY). In these comics, we get a chance to see that friendship in its early days, in the months after the Battle of Yarvin. The bonds forged here will be strong many years into the characters’ futures.
In 2006, Del Ray took the EU further into Wedge’s future with the Legacy of the Force series. It’s set in 40 ABY, so comes about 12 years after we last saw Wedge and his family, at the end of the Yuuzhan Vong war. It’s a nine-book series written by three authors, taking titles in rotation.
The first book is ‘Betrayal’, by Aaron Allston, which is good news for Wedge fans. We first see him at home and so get a catch-up on where he is now: living on Corellia in an apartment block for military retirees, with Iella and his younger daughter, Myri. Wedge is greying and rather skinny – his appearance doesn’t match his reputation which must still be high, as the military still call on him occasionally for advice, just as Iella’s former employers still make demands on her. Family life has continued: Myri is about to graduate after training for intelligence work, and his older daughter, Syal, has just entered active service as a combat pilot.
Although Wedge is retired from the military, he’s still only in early-middle age. It seems a little odd that a hard worker like Wedge, still mentally and physically active, doesn’t seem to have found himself anything in particular to do. Clearly he’s been hands-on with raising his daughters but both were in early teens at the end of the Vong war, not small children. They will have been busy with school and their own lives since then. Wedge has taught both of them to fly but that still leaves him with a lot of spare time. He says himself that he wants to sit around in comfortable clothes all day, write his memoirs, and give Iella the time he couldn’t give her during his military career. Obviously that dream of family and home is still sufficient satisfaction for him.
With Wedge having been in contented retirement for over a decade, there needed to be some plausible way of bringing him back into action. Until ‘Betrayal’ came out, we didn’t know where Wedge and his family had been living after the Vong war. Having him on Corellia is logical for the character, and also handy from a storytelling angle, as it gives readers a known, sympathetic character on the inside of the Corellian point of view. Han Solo obviously has Corellian sympathies, but with Leia being a Jedi, Han can’t openly take the Corellian side in the way that Wedge can. However, there needs to be something to really push Wedge into actively joining the Corellians: after all, most of his friends are associated with the GA. His daughter, Syal, is in the GA, but could just as easily have been in the Corellian military if that had suited the story better.
Altogether, it’s not surprising that Wedge says he intended to stay neutral in the conflict between Coruscant and Corellia. But while Corellia respects his wish to be left alone, the GA kidnap him. After Wedge escapes, Pellaeon thinks that Wedge has joined the Corellian military not because he’s for Corellia, but because he’s now specifically against the leadership of the GA. Wedge’s motivations seem to be less personal, though. Hostilities have now started when he returns to Corellia. He has a low opinion of Thracken Sal-Solo, the new Minister of War, and so takes a position where he can try to moderate Sal-Solo’s actions and provide a voice of reason. Wedge tells Tycho that he wants to promote peace, and takes the same line later with both Jacen and the subsequent Corellian government, urging them to reach a diplomatic resolution. It’s a poignant moment when Wedge and Tycho face one another, old friends, wearing different uniforms. Although he’s relaxed when he encounters Syal above Corellia, it must hurt Wedge even more to be on the other side of the conflict to his beloved daughter.
Family has long been the strongest motivation in Wedge’s life, and in this series we really see him as a family man. When he’s taken into custody before the first action against Corellia, what he’s most upset about is not the betrayal of the GA, who don’t seem to trust him in spite of all he’s done for them, it’s that he’s been separated from his family just as trouble is about to break out. Strong-willed as Wedge is, he can’t quite control his emotions when he realizes what’s happened. He was separated from his family during the fall of Coruscant in the Vong war and fears the thought of reliving that helplessness again, and of something dreadful happening in his absence. So, being Wedge, he breaks out of custody, steals an X-wing and makes his way back to Corellia to rejoin his family.
As a father, he’s supportive and protective of his girls. We learn from Syal that she had to earn money towards the cost of her education, though for every credit she earned, her father matched it with four. Wedge’s opinion is that there’s no easy path, so he teaches his daughters that they won’t get everything simply handed to them. Although he won’t indulge them, he’s clearly proud of them and a very fond father. He addresses Syal as ‘sweetheart’ and in return, she still calls him Daddy. He happily tells Jaina and Zekk that he has one daughter going into his line of work, and one following his wife’s line: ‘Genetically and culturally speaking, isn’t that perfect ?’. He seems to have mixed feelings about the amount of money that Myri is making from gambling, but he’s proud of the fact that GA Intelligence risk a double agent in order to make her a job offer after she graduates.
While he’s happy about their burgeoning professional careers, Wedge is less happy about other aspects of their lives. He’s far more worried about the danger from boys than he is about the risks of a military career. As soon as Syal was old enough to start dating, he insisted she carry two blasters. He’s unwilling to trust any young men with his daughters, though he must be realistic enough to know that he can’t stop his girls from wanting relationships and that he must let them grow up and move on. Although he’s a pilot himself, as are most of his best friends, Wedge has a low opinion of male pilots as a whole, at least as potential partners for his girls:
“There are two types of male pilots. Good men, such as the ones I never tried to break or run out of my squadrons, whom I would shoot before I ever trusted them with my daughter. And worse men, whom I would shoot if I caught them looking at my daughter.”
Either Wedge is an exceptionally protective father, or else there were some goings-on by the young men in Rogue Squadron that are never likely to be written about outside the realms of fanfic.
There’s a different feel to Wedge’s character in this series from how he was back in his Rogue Squadron days. He’s older and has had years away from the stress of being responsible for other lives in battle. Achieving the family home life of his dreams has filled that gap in his personal life. Wedge has proven to himself and the galaxy at large that he’s among the very best as a pilot and tactician. As well as his military awards, he’s even been granted civilian distinctions, like having a major boulevard in the capital city of his home planet named after him. The self-assurance he showed in the Vong war is a part of him now. Wedge is fully aware of his reputation and his place in history and isn’t afraid to use them to his advantage, though not for personal gain.
Not everyone is impressed by the heroes of the Rebel Alliance. When Titch has Wedge in protective custody on Coruscant, he takes the opportunity to insult and threaten him. Wedge promptly and calmly returns the threat and subsequently carries it out. Although he doesn’t wish to kill or permanently damage Titch, Wedge has no compunction about subjecting him to a severe electric shock, as part of his escape plan. He’d have regretted doing the same to Barthis, who treated him with respect, but Titch’s bad attitude provokes Wedge into teaching him a harsh lesson about the older generation.
While he’s never been a push-over, with so much behind him, Wedge is now so comfortable with himself that he’s almost impossible to intimidate. He can certainly be anxious, for himself and others, but that streak of stubborn, typically Corellian independence and perversity is stronger than ever. He relishes opportunities to annoy power-hungry politicians and barely bothers to hide his lack of respect in some cases.
The showdown between Wedge and Thracken Sal-Solo is a prime example. Thracken is the kind of power-hungry politician Wedge doesn’t like anyway, and Thracken’s callous plan to exploit the deaths of civilians contradicts some of Wedge’s deepest ethical beliefs. Wedge bitterly satirizes the plan, suggesting that it would be even more effective if it killed more civilians. He’s quite blunt about how callous the plan is, to the point of insubordination, but the respect he’s held in by the military lets him make his point.
Thracken is Wedge’s ultimate superior in the Corellian military. He reminds Wedge that it is his plan that Wedge has criticized. In return, Wedge is patronizing about Thracken’s use of the word ‘wanton’, then makes a dismissive gesture, that Han Solo, watching in secret, knows will outrage Thracken. Wedge is clever, buying Thracken’s interest by pointing out how his own plan will make Thracken look good, but he speaks bluntly rather than tactfully and is resolutely unimpressed by Thracken’s threats of dismissal. Afterwards, when Thracken asks Wedge to contact his daughter, Wedge doesn’t immediately agree. He forces Thracken to make the request an order, and then rudely refuses it. In response to a threat of court martial and execution, Wedge makes a show of stretching and relaxing, to demonstrate how little Thracken worries him, then again patronizes him. He quite simply says that Thracken needs him: he’s the best strategist available and has friends in positions of power and influence all over the galaxy that he can ask for favours. Thracken doesn’t argue with him; Wedge is speaking the truth. What he doesn’t say, though Thracken should be aware of it, is that those same friends would also be inclined to take retribution on anyone who had him killed unjustly. Nonetheless, Wedge is playing a very dangerous game. Thracken certainly needs him for now, but his defiance and attitude has made Thracken Sal-Solo into an enemy.
Wedge plays a similar game later in his meeting with Jacen Solo. Again, Wedge is in a vulnerable position, this time face to face with a powerful Jedi and military commander, on board a ship of the enemy fleet. However, Jacen can’t sense any fear or anxiety in him and is irritated by the way Wedge looks confident, rather than someone on the verge of defeat. Wedge defends himself against the accusation of being involved in the plot against Hapes with the simple reply that he couldn’t have been involved, because it failed. Jacen is irritated by what he feels is a typically Corellian, cocky answer, but he doesn’t disagree with the substance.
This time, Wedge’s attitude is partly because he’s testing Jacen, who has changed from the person Wedge knew as a child and teenager. By being irreverent and annoying Jacen, he sees that Jacen has lost his sense of humour. He speaks honestly to Jacen, telling him that he’s changed and warning him of the danger of fanaticism. Very few people would have the nerve to speak so to Jacen at this point, but Wedge is trusting that his position as an old family friend will prevent Jacen from acting too rashly. Jacen learned to respect Wedge during the Vong war and knows that Wedge hasn’t changed since. His comments do make Jacen think about himself, but Jacen is already so self-deluded that he justifies the changes to himself, and continues on his path to corruption.
Later on, in a bunker on Corellia, Wedge again deliberately unsettles the politicians around him by refusing to slump or look bowed by being underground. Although he’s sincere in wanting to help Corellia, these particular politicians have lost his respect by the attempted assassination of Tenel Ka, so he can’t resist the opportunity to subtly wind them up.
Wedge doesn’t merely rely on deeds from decades ago. When he goes into action, he flies as well as he did forty years ago. His reflexes may be a little slower – which would still make him faster than most people – but he has a wealth of experience to draw on. Unusually, we get to hear some of his combat wisdom in his own words, as Syal recalls some of the things her father has taught her. Although Wedge knows that every soldier needs luck, he teaches Syal not to count on it: ‘You can’t plan for luck. Plan smart and let luck land where it will’. As well as advice on combat, he’s passed on his wisdom in dealing with emotions. Surely Wedge is one of the very few people who can honestly say “when we manage to make it to the top of our profession (starfighter pilot), we can look the Jedi in the eye and remind ourselves that we got there without any crutches”. Wedge has indeed made it to the top in his profession, and has the self-belief to look any Jedi in the eyes as an equal. Syal finds his reminder comforting when Jedi squadrons seem to get preferential treatment. Later on, after her first combat kill, she remembers his oft-repeated advice: “Save up your feelings for later. Save your feelings for home”. Battle is not the place for a soldier to examine how he feels about his actions: he needs to concentrate on what is happening around him. Wedge acknowledges that it is important for a soldier to deal with emotions from combat though. It’s something he must have dealt with himself many, many times.
In this war, Wedge flies in a pair with Corran a couple of times; the two fly so close that they appear as one signal on sensors. As his usual wingman, Tycho, has been living on Coruscant, it’s possible that Wedge has been enjoying himself during his retirement by flying with Corran instead, as he was also living on Corellia. In battle, they create a diversion by tackling a full squadron of Howlrunners. By the time the Skywalkers complete their part of Wedge’s plan and come to assist, the two X-wing pilots have defeated seven of the enemies, without damage to themselves. Corran may have the advantage of the Force, but Wedge can readily keep up with him.
In the battle where the Jedi destroy Centerpoint Station, Wedge flies as the leader of Rakehell Squadron. In the battle, he achieves the distinction of being the first, and so far as we know, only, pilot to kill a serving Rogue Leader. We never get to hear how Wedge feels about fighting Rogue Squadron, letting alone killing someone in the position he himself was so strongly identified with. It’s no doubt a distinction he’d rather not have.
After Syal has, unknowingly, tried to shoot her father down, and experienced his flying skill at firsthand, she begins to understand ‘his reputation as a thing of legend rather than historical fact’. Dur Gejjen treats Wedge with respect, even when removing him from his post as Supreme Commander of Corellia’s military. He values Wedge’s military skills, but seems to genuinely honour him as a person, glowering at someone who says ‘good’ when Wedge resigns.
Wedge’s friends have the greatest respect for his abilities too. He may be referred to as the second most famous Corellian pilot, but the most famous, Han Solo, doesn’t take his own superiority for granted. When he flies with Wedge on the raid on Tralus, Han is unnecessarily competitive. Wedge’s skill is a threat to his own self-belief as a brilliant pilot, so Han does his best to try and prove himself the better. Wedge also garners respect for his strategic abilities. Gejjen tries to persuade him to stay on with the Corellian military: Wedge refuses him, but he responds when Luke Skywalker asks him to join the Jedi to give military advice. Luke was once Wedge’s commanding officer, and has been leading the Jedi order through peace and war for decades, but the Jedi Grand Master doesn’t hesitate to ask his old friend for help, or to follow his orders when defending the Errant Venture
. In the course of the series, Wedge’s strong sense of ethics are again used as a way to create drama. Wedge treads his own path, doing what he believes to be right. His initial intention is to encourage reconciliation, starting with the meeting at Toryaz Station. He’s there as a military advisor but acts as a diplomat, in collaboration with Tycho. Decades earlier, on Adumar, he insisted that he was no good as a diplomat, but now Wedge smoothly breaks down the ice between the different groups, getting people relaxed and talking informally in advance of the negotiations. He and Tycho, although technically on different sides, also worked together on the idea of using doubles for the political leaders they are supporting.
The meeting fails, of course, and Thracken Sal-Solo gains power on Corellia. When he demands that Wedge encourage Syal to listen to him, Wedge flatly refuses. He will not ask his daughter to violate the oaths she took as an officer. Syal may choose to do as Sal-Solo asks, but that is her decision and Wedge won’t try to influence her judgement. His refusal to co-operate infuriates Sal-Solo but Wedge would rather put himself at risk than encourage his daughter to break her word.
Later on, Wedge makes no secret of his disapproval of the Corellian attempt to assassinate Tenel Ka. He sticks to his position regardless of hostility from the government and is relieved of his position as Supreme Commander of the Corellian military. Although the chief of government asks him to stay on, Wedge feels he can no longer work with them. He knows that if he does, he will be either actively or passively associated with actions that he finds unacceptable. Resigning is a brave move: the Corellian government has already shown that it’s willing to assassinate enemies and Wedge knows that some of them consider him a virtual traitor. With his skills, reputation and connections, he could be a powerful enemy of the Corellians if he chose, and by resigning he shows that he certainly doesn’t support them. Although he’s putting his life in danger, Wedge does what he feels to be right.
Altogether, there is a lot for Wedge fans to enjoy in the Legacy of the Force series. It’s noticeable, however, that nearly all of his appearances are only in Aaron Allston’s books. In the first book, ‘Betrayal’, Allston cleverly sets up the enmity between Wedge and Sal-Solo. It’s a tense situation, with Wedge’s life under threat from his own commanding officer. After the set up. we want to see some kind of showdown in the next book, or at least further development of the drama. Annoyingly. Karen Traviss abandons Wedge altogether, instead writing entire chapters on Boba Fett’s personal story. Sal-Solo is rather ignominiously wiped out by Fett and Han Solo and the drama set up in the previous book fizzles away to nothing. Wedge and his entire family simply vanish from the war during Traviss’s books.
Troy Denning does include Wedge at the beginning of ‘Tempest’, showing him in his new guise as Admiral Antilles, Supreme Commander of the Corellian forces. He’s shown as uneasy about the request for Han and Leia to visit Tenel Ka and the warm relationship between him and the Solos is depicted well. It is, however, his only appearance in Denning’s three books of the trilogy. His absence is particularly striking in the last book, ‘Invincible’. Here, the Jedi are involved in various large scale military actions and it would make sense for Wedge to be involved, as he was in ‘Fury’. His expertise is exactly what is needed, and he had been working with Luke, so he really should be part of the action. It would also be interesting to see Wedge’s reaction both to the appointment of his old adversary, Daala, to the GA chief of state, and to his nephew, Jag, being appointed ruler of the Empire.
Instead, Wedge drops in and out of the action through the series, apparently at random. It’s annoying, but it is good to at least see something of him. There’s nothing about what he intends to do after the war; a return to retirement seems most likely, unless he does as he suggests he might to Tycho, and takes up business as a freighter captain, now his children are grown up.
When we next encounter Wedge, in ‘Outcast’ (2009), there is still no information on what he’s doing with himself now. He’s named as being among the well-wishers who say farewell to Luke as he leaves for his year of exile but that’s all the detail we get. There’s very little more when he reappears with a bunch of other retired pilots to help blow things up on Kessel. He’s described as looking relaxed in his retirement. Wedge appears to favour comfort over style: in ‘Betrayal’ he said he wanted to spend his retirement wearing comfortable clothes, and slept in an old Rebel Alliance undershirt that must have been over thirty years old. Here, he’s wearing a pair of scuffed, ancient boots, which are visible to all, as he has his feet up on Lando’s elegant marble table. Wedge can do formal perfectly well, but as he gets older, he seems more inclined to simply please himself and less willing to put on a show.
Although outwardly casual, he’s still mentally and physically sharp. He’s shrewd enough to guess that Lando hasn’t got insurance for the operation, and tries to get assurance that any fighters damaged will be paid for by Lando. He’s flying his own X-wing – possibly the one he stole during his escape from Coruscant, and has an astromech named Roll-On. When Rhysati offers to swap fighters, Wedge jumps as the chance to fly her Eta-5, as he’s never tried one for real, only in a sim. The big excitement of the mission is when an energy spider lands on the Millennium Falcon. Han trusts Wedge enough to let him shoot at the spider riding on the cockpit of the unshielded Falcon. If Wedge hits the ship, he could kill those in the cockpit: Han, Leia and Allana. Of course he doesn’t.
After this guest appearance, Wedge vanishes back into retirement and isn’t seen again for the rest of the Fate of the Jedi series. Where he lives, and what he’s doing remains a mystery.
The next appearances of Wedge in print are set back much earlier in his life. In the novelization of ‘The Force Unleashed 2’, (2010) Wedge makes a brief, pre-Yarvin appearance, flying a Y-wing. He’s still a very young, hotshot pilot here but gets to do some fancy flying as he acts as an impromptu mid-combat taxi service for the lead character. Really, it could be anyone in that Y-wing but making the pilot be Wedge is a nice reminder of how he had joined the Rebellion before almost any other character you’ve heard of, and how young he was.
2010 also saw the release of ‘Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor’ by Matthew Stover. It’s set just after the X-wing comics; Wedge and Rogues get good supporting roles. Their function is the usual kind of loyal support to the big heroes and as familiar names in the big battle scenes. However, Stover has done his homework on the Rogues, and writes them sympathetically and knowledgeably.
The main story opens with a battle scene with is actually a trap. allowing the Rogues to plant transponders on the fighters of an elusive enemy, so they can be tracked back to their base. Although Luke is still in the New Republic military, and Lando is the general in charge of the operation, the trap is Wedge’s plan. It’s in keeping with the tactical ability we see in other books where Wedge is the star; here he’s only a supporting player but instead of Luke or Lando being given credit for the clever strategy, Stover lets Wedge shine.
After this, he switches to more of a backup role. Leia calls on him for help and once again, Wedge loyally puts his career at risk for the sake of a friend. The interaction between Wedge and Tycho is good. They don’t debate what to do: Wedge makes his decision alone, and within a second or two. All he has to do is nod, and Tycho understands that this is the signal for him to round up the other Rogues so they can help Leia find Luke. Wedge knows that Lando will take this unauthorized absence very seriously, but goes ahead anyway. There are some good scenes between Wedge and Lando, who aren’t often seen together. They obviously respect and like one another, and have a good working relationship as well as being friends off-duty.
We don’t get any new development of Wedge as a character, but he’s portrayed consistently with the character established in the long run of previous books. It’s interesting to see him as a young, single man and lower ranked officer again, as he was in the comics, after a long series of books with him raising his family, commanding entire fleets and skipping in and out of retirement.
After a bit of a drought, we finally got a update on Wedge's life in 2012. The big news was of a new X-wing novel by Aaron Allston. It's set just after the Fate Of The Jedi series, so although he's listed in the Dramatis Personae, Wedge only makes a fleeting personal appearance. One of the major characters, however, is his younger daughter, Myri, so he is at least mentioned by various characters throughout. She says that he's doing great, and apparently he's finally published the memoirs first mentioned back in 'Betrayal': 'Ace in the Hole - A Cockpit's-Eye View of Turbulent Times'. The memoirs are not complete, as he's had to leave out a lot of stuff that still classified, but Myri says that this leaves more material for later. Wedge is enjoying himself doing speaking tours and similar - presumably chat shows too. He wasn't fond of public speaking when he was younger. Most of his speeches as a soldier would have been propaganda or eulogies. Now Wedge has survived through those wars, as have quite a few of his closest friends. Time has helped heal the wounds of the losses of those times and he has the consolation now of knowing that they won their fight. The lives that were lost were not in vain. We've seen before that Wedge is proud of his achievements so it's undertandable that he's now enjoying celebrity in a way he didn't back when he was still doing the job.
Wedge is also doing consulting work for Incom, which makes sense. He knows how to fly an X-wing better than anyone else and has enough technical knowhow to help suggest developments for new or improved starfighters. His one actual appearance in the book is in an X-wing, though not the one he had in 'Outcast'. Myri calls on him to help the Wraiths and he shows up with Tycho, both flying Jedi Stealth-Xs. He's referred to thoughout the book as a retired general, perhaps because it was his highest rank in the GA, though he became an admiral in the Corellian military. There's a nice compliment to Wedge from a character who has never met him. When one of the Duros freed by the Wraiths fears that their knowledge is more important than their lives, the other Duros points out that one of the Wraiths is the daughter of Wedge Antilles. He believes that Wedge's daughter, and her associates, will not be the kind of people to abandon them. Although Wedge has often broken the rules, even to the point of effectively committing treason, he's still widely percieved as a moral, trustworthy character. There aren't many characters who manage to mix respectability and anarchy in the same way as Wedge.
At much the same time, Wedge appeared in the short story, 'Roll of the Dice', by Karen Miller, which was published in Star Wars Insider magazine. It's a story about Myri, who wants to live up to the legacy of her famous father, and make a name for herself, but Wedge gets more to do in this short story than he did in the whole of 'Mercy Kill'. This time his involvement with Intelligence seems to be official: he gets sent in to extract Myri after communications are jammed. It's clearly not a casual choice, as Wedge is disguised by being bald and having his skin coloured mauve, but it's not clear if Wedge is full time with Intelligence, part-time, or if this is a one-off, although it's a coincidence that it's Myri he's sent after.
He seems to enjoy himself, and makes a very effective team with his daughter. Although he's a protective father, he copes well with letting his daughters take up dangerous occupations. He's taught them both to be very professional: Myri knows that if she endangers the mission by waiting for him instead of escaping with the data, he'll be angry and disappointed in her.
It's fun to see Wedge on the loose as an Intelligence agent again, as he was in the early Wraith Squadron days. It would have been great to see him, and Iella too, in this kind of role in 'Mercy Kill'. It's good to see the next generation being given a chance to shine, but if Han, Luke and Leia are still up to having adventures, there's no reason why Wedge can't as well.
It seems likely that Wedge will continue to appear in the EU. There are new stories being written that are set during the Rebellion and it’s easy enough to fit Wedge into those, though most probably as a supporting role. Appearances in the post-Fate of the Jedi era are likely to be minor, unless his move towards Intelligence work becomes official, and there are more Wraith Squadron books. It could be a whole new chapter in the life of a well-loved character.