Saturday, September 29, 2012

Great Characters: Vilmarh Grahk

Quinlan Vos is a hugely popular character among readers of Star Wars comics. The maverick Jedi, who struggled to walk the line between the light and dark sides of the force, had a dramatic storyline that lasted for dozens of issues. But a character often overlooked when praise is heaped on Quinlan Vos is his sometimes sidekick, sometimes manipulator, Vilmarh Grahrk. 

This article contains spoilers for the Quinlan Vos storyline from Star Wars comics.

Quinlan Vos was properly introduced in the story arc “Twilight” (from Dark Horse’s first series to be simply called Star Wars), along with the devious Devaronian Vilmarh Grahrk – 'Call me Villie' (both had briefly appeared in the two issues prior to give a fluid transition to the new characters). Villie had also appeared in the short story “Deal with a Demon”, from Tales #3, which introduced readers to his double-dealing style. 

What works well in “Twilight” with Villie’s character is that he doesn’t take anything too seriously, even when his life is in danger. This contrasts with Quinlan’s moody demeanour, and if it weren’t for Villie lightening the mood the story could have been relentlessly depressing. Villie’s speech pattern adds something to the character too, which immediately gives the reader a sense of Villie’s voice in their head. A classic line that Villie often gives variations on is 'Whatever will you do? Stay and die – or go and live? Such a tough decision! We go now, yes?'

Villie does actually have a strong character arc of his own, too, rather than just being a semi-comedic foil to Vos. The first time the reader seems him betting on games on Nar Shaddaa, he bets that the Hutts will kill the Jedi who have accidentally crash-landed in the middle of their games. At that point, Grahk has little respect for the Jedi and in unaware of how powerful they are. 

By the time it comes to the “Rites of Passage” story arc, Villie tells his pilot droid NT that he looks forward to seeing how little chance the Morgukai assassins stand against 'my Jedi.' These stories show Villie grow to respect the Jedi, and Quinlan Vos inparticular.

When he is finally reunited with Vos in “The Hidden Enemy”, it is clear from the conversations between the two regarding Villie’s take on the Clone Wars that his view on life and the galaxy has been affected. He has learnt to 'be good to friends'. Of course Quinlan Vos doubts this and assumes that as usual the Devaronian is up to no good, but the conclusion of the arc shows that he has developed as a character – from a rogue who saw Vos a way to make money to someone willing to risk his own life for his friend.

It is a shame that there are not more characters as well written and memorable as Villie in the Star Wars universe, but when there are at least they stand out. Villie exploded into the comics and provided a breath of fresh air, and despite a significant absence returned in style.  John Ostrander crafted a great character who many cared about in Quinlan Vos, but Villie should never be overlooked at another brilliantly executed addition to the Expanded Universe.

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