Love or hate the Star Wars prequels, there’s a big question left hanging in the air that it seems everyone wants to explore: What did the famous Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi do for 20 years after Revenge of the Sith while he waited for Luke to come of age to be trained as a Jedi? Presumably the original answer was just that he lived a humble life on Tatooine, but it seems no matter the timeline, something big happens in-between Kenobi’s days as a renowned Jedi General in the Grand Army of the Republic and his final years as a hermit.
While we might not know quite what Deborah Chow has in mind for the Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ series, the original Expanded Universe timeline has some fairly interesting events. Not only does Kenobi get into some action, but his adventures address a few dangling plot threads and, in one case, offer an alternative to the conclusion to his greatest rivalry.
Obviously the first thing on Kenobi’s to-do list is to get baby Luke to the Lars homestead. The first glimpse of what Kenobi does after that though appears in a non-canon story called “Old Wounds” by Aaron McBride in the comic Star Wars: Visionaries. It’s an excellent 13-page rematch between none other than Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul.
Where the pair’s confrontation in Star Wars: Rebels was optimistic and contemplative, “Old Wounds” is the exact opposite, capturing the barbarous cruelty of Revenge of the Sith. It’s implied that Maul decapitated Watto, among several other grievous acts, stalking Obi-Wan to the homestead over many months. Meanwhile, we see Kenobi at his most brutal, demonstrating his prowess in multiple regards. Though obviously Maul faces defeat in the end, it’s not without cost.
Kenobi is given the opportunity to cut Maul down without mercy, and the temptation to give into the years of pain caused by Maul leaves him frozen — but Owen of all people intervenes. Taking aim with his rifle, Lars manages to blast the Sith Lord straight in the skull, granting Kenobi a sobering reprieve. However, despite appreciating his protection in the moment, the Lars family wants Kenobi to stay away from them afterward.
After this, Obi-Wan Kenobi would clash with local Tusken Raiders in Jude Watson’s “The Last One Standing.” Still grappling with the storm of emotions as he processed Anakin’s fall, Kenobi nearly ends up unleashing his pain upon a Raider tribe who’d stolen from the Lars homestead. It is only in remembering how Anakin had failed in a similar situation that he relents, merely shearing off the clothes of his attackers, a heretical act that earns him an infamous respect with the local Tuskens.
Finally regaining control of himself, Kenobi would reach out to his old master Qui-Gon Jinn’s spirit to learn his master’s teachings of the “way of the Whills,” but Jinn’s spirit refuses. Jinn insists his former apprentice has to understand why on his own, before nudging Kenobi into catching word that an old friend from his days in the Jedi Order had survived the purge: Ferus Olin.
Olin remains one of Jude Watson’s finest additions to the Expanded Universe. Olin was not only an impressive rival padawan during Anakin’s training, but one of the earliest queer-coded characters in the setting. Though Olin walked away from the Jedi in direct response to the darkening philosophies of the Jedi Council and Anakin in the face of growing tensions, the tragic death of his husband pulls him back into the center stage in YA novel series The Last of the Jedi.
Much like with a role Ahsoka fills in the new continuity, Olin and Kenobi’s final journeys together bring years of story threads to a close. However, with Olin being the primary protagonist of The Last of the Jedi, Kenobi’s role resolves mostly by the end of the fourth book, Death on Naboo. Kenobi, with Olin’s unwitting help, is able to purge any hints of the Skywalker twins from Darth Vader’s grasp. At the same time, they briefly ensure the safety of fellow Jedi survivors, setting the stage for Olin’s precursor alliance to the eventual Rebel Alliance.
Long story short, this alliance is tragically cut short by a traitor. However, surviving the conflict, Olin would later be guided by Kenobi into serving as Leia’s shadow, a bodyguard who would appear harmless to any casual passerby. Olin is even guided after the destruction of the Death Star by the spirit of Obi-Wan for a time — but that’s a story for another day.
A far less pleasant reunion comes two years later when Kenobi crosses paths with the Tusken Jedi A’Sharad Hett, whom some of you may recall from our dive into the history of Aurra Sing. Detailed in flashback in Legacy #16 “Claws of the Dragon, Part 3” by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema, Kenobi unwittingly has a hand in the creation of yet another Sith Lord.
Hett did not have an easy go of it, either during the war — he had considerable emotional conflict with Anakin given the latter’s slaughtering of an entire Tusken tribe — or afterwards, with the Jedi Order decimated. With no other heritage to cling to, Hett fell into the ways of the Tusken people without hesitation. Out for blood for the years of hostility toward the Tusken, Hett’s furious agony makes him a powerful wielder of the Dark Side.
Learning from his years of exile, Kenobi pleads with Hett to stop and come to his senses, only for Hett to force him into single combat. Fighting furiously to ensure Hett’s army won’t descend on the local homesteads, Kenobi not only severs Hett’s arm but tears open his mask, shaming him into exile. The army disbanded and with no tribe to call his own, Hett loses virtually everything, and Kenobi makes him swear on the honor of his father to leave Tatooine and never return. Though Kenobi’s intent was for Hett to finally find his own destiny, the result would see Hett achieve an unnaturally long life as the Sith Lord Darth Krayt, who would sow war over 130 years later against Luke’s descendant, Cade Skywalker, and bring about the third galactic Jedi Purge during that war. Oops.
Beyond this, much of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s history is small stories and speculation — yes, speculation in a fictional setting. It’s ambiguously implied that Kenobi may have sequestered away a young Force prodigy named Ken on Yavin IV in The Lost City of the Jedi, but that’s part of the The Glove of Vader storyline, so the less said about that, the better.
There’s a similar children’s novel, Adventure in Beggar’s Canyon, about Luke Skywalker and his friend Windy being saved by Obi-Wan Kenobi some time prior to A New Hope, but the most notably story beat is that Owen once again all but tells Kenobi to kriff off about getting Luke involved in the ways of the Jedi.
The most noteworthy story beyond this has less to do with Kenobi and more what his recordings offer Leia five years after the Battle of Endor. Troy Denning’s Tatooine Ghost serves as one of the earliest connecting novels between the prequel and original trilogies. (Denning also wrote Halo: Shadows of Reach.) It’s also a rare Star Wars novel focusing primarily on Han and Leia operating as a couple rather than a story centering on them tagging along with whatever Luke’s dragged himself into.
It’s worth noting for Thrawn fans that the book also serves as the last story before the events of Heir to the Empire, and it nods to Thrawn’s other major book, Outbound Flight. Thus, Tatooine Ghost is an all-around crossroads between several major storylines, very fitting given Kenobi’s propensity to appear in other people’s journeys.
The new Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ series has a heftier amount to live up to than casual fans might realize. Despite being told out of order and by several creators, Obi-Wan’s twilight years are a compelling tale befitting his ronin-like role after the rise of the Empire. Though I’m sure there are plenty of original stories set to excite us all, I do hope the team at Lucasfilm hasn’t forgotten these journeys from long before. And if you just can’t wait for the show to premiere, all the aforementioned books are readily available in eBook format, or if you’re feeling adventurous, the old prints are still out there.
Until next time, my friends – may the Force be with you.