Monday, July 22

Dengar – ‘Star Wars’ Character Spotlight

Welcome to our Star Wars Character Spotlight, where we take the opportunity to highlight the supporting and tertiary characters that pop up across the various different Star Wars eras who deserve a bit of love. This week, we’ll be looking at Dengar.


Dengar is everybody’s favorite bandaged bounty hunter, well known among Star Wars fans for his cameo appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. Since then, his character has been expanded on in comics and novels, as well as a small appearance in The Clone Wars animated series. 


Dengar wasn’t much respected by his peers, and was widely considered to be a rung below Boba Fett and Bossk in terms of skill level among bounty hunters. That didn’t stop him from bragging about his past exploits, though there was often some debate as to the truth of his various tales. 


We don’t know much about Dengar’s early life other than that he is Corellian and used to be a swoop racer before working as a gladiator (according to the Scum and Villainy reference book in 2018). The War of the Bounty Hunters comic states that he started working as a bounty hunter in the early days of the Clone Wars, and it’s in the animated series that we get his first chronological appearance. 


The Clone Wars


Dengar fighting Kage in The Clone Wars


Dengar made his animated debut in the fourth season of The Clone Wars as part of Krayt’s Claw, a bounty hunter group led by a young Boba Fett. While Fett and Bossk were regular members, Dengar was involved less frequently, possibly due to his inferior skill level. On this occasion, Dengar joined fellow bounty hunters C-21 Highsinger, Latts Razzi and Asajj Ventress on a mission.


Their mission took place on Quarzite, where they were tasked with escorting a mysterious chest on a train for the planet’s leader. When Asajj Ventress discovered that they were transporting a living person, she betrayed the rest of the team. A fight broke out among themselves and a Quarzite rebel group who were trying to reclaim the prisoner. Dengar was knocked off of the train along with the other bounty hunters (except Ventress, who had tied Fett up in the chest) and they failed the mission. 


He next appeared in The Clone Wars’ fifth season, working for the Hutts on Nal Hutta along with fellow bounty hunters Latts Razzi, Sugi and Embo. They were present during the Hutts’ negotiations with Maul, Savage Opress and Death Watch, as Maul sought to expand his criminal empire. The negotiations went south and a fight broke out between the bounty hunters and the Sith’s forces. 


The bounty hunters were clearly outmatched against the dark siders and Mandalorians, and Dengar saved Embo and Sugi’s lives by deploying smoke bombs so they could all escape. 


Those are his only appearances in The Clone Wars, with the Scum and Villainy reference book claiming there are rumors Dengar sat out the end of the war while he recovered from a significant injury.


Hunting Han Solo and Darth Vader’s Informant


Dengar hunts Chewbacca in Star Wars comic


We actually don’t have any Dengar stories during the Dark Times era between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and he doesn’t appear again until the comics set after A New Hope, when he is spotted in the Darth Vader comic at Jabba’s Palace. 


He has a much bigger role in the main Star Wars comic series, where he attempts to collect Jabba’s bounty on Han Solo by capturing Chewbacca on Nar Shaddaa. Ultimately, Han gets the better of him and Chewbacca throws him off the top of a building. It seems Dengar was forced into working for Jabba in order to save his girlfriend Manaroo, who owed the Hutt a lot of money (his relationship with Manaroo is one of the few Legends details that has been canonized).


He was later hired by Darth Vader along with a group of other bounty hunters to find Doctor Aphra, and was a mole for Vader when hired by a criminal syndicate called the Hidden Hand to assassinate the Sith Lord in the Target Vader comic series. Such untrustworthiness was very on brand for Dengar, who was quick to change his tune to either earn more money or ensure his own survival. 


The Empire Strikes Back


Dengar standing next to IG-88 and Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back


We next see him in what was his first ever Star Wars appearance on board the Executor in The Empire Strikes Back. He never speaks in the film, but he answers the call from the Empire to hunt down the Millennium Falcon along with Boba Fett, Bossk, Zuckuss, 4-LOM and IG-88. 


He isn’t seen again in the film, but we learn in the From a Certain Point of View anthology novel that he worked with IG-88 to try and bring in Han Solo. The two bounty hunters looked for signs of his ship but ended up attacking the wrong people.


Bounty Hunters


Dengar teams up with Beilert Valance in Bounty Hunters comic


Dengar appears often in the Bounty Hunters comic and crossovers set between The Empire Strike Back and Return of the Jedi. Former-Imperial-turned-bounty-hunter Beilert Valance was furious at Dengar’s earlier betrayal in Target Vader, and forced him to work for free and help him track down Han Solo as repayment. 


With Fett last known to be in possession of Solo, they headed to Nar Shaddaa to steal Han back but they were a step behind the famous bounty hunter. After a brief tangle with Chewbacca, who was still mad after their previous clash, Dengar discovered that Crimson Dawn had stolen Han. At this time, Jabba the Hutt put a bounty on Boba Fett’s head and demanded that Dengar collect it in order to keep his love Manaroo safe. 


He and Valance had a couple of fights with Crimson Dawn assassin Deathstick, and Dengar managed to steal her invite to the auction for Han Solo. When they arrived on the moon, he and Valance got into a fight with Boba Fett and Dengar was betrayed by his current partner, who abandoned him on an iceberg to chase Han Solo with Fett. He ended up saved by Deathstick, who asked him to give up intel in exchange for paying all of Manaroo’s debt to Jabba. 


Paying off his girlfriend’s debt didn’t stop him from working for Jabba though, as he was present at his palace in Return of the Jedi when Luke Skywalker arrived to rescue Han. This cameo isn’t nearly as iconic as his Empire Strikes Back one, but he can be spotted in the palace during this scene. The Helmet Collection reference book also confirms that Dengar decided not to join Jabba on his sail barge, and thus survived the explosion at the Sarlacc Pit.



It would seem his relationship with Manaroo wasn’t going so well at this point either, as the final issue of the Bounty Hunters comic series (set before Return of the Jedi) shows Manaroo growing increasingly exasperated with his decision to continue bounty hunting when he had no reason to now that she was free. His pride got the better of him, unwilling to walk away from an industry where he was widely mocked. He was desperate to prove his peers wrong.


New Republic


Dengar in Star Wars Battlefront 2


Dengar next popped up in the Aftermath novel trilogy, getting his own interlude chapter in the first two books. Set in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor, Dengar is chasing another bounty hunter called Mercurial Swift in Corellia. He tries to convince his target to join an alliance of bounty hunters, but Swift rejects him due to his reputation as being ineffective in their line of work. He then successfully distracted Dengar by pretending Boba Fett was standing behind him, which is pretty amateurish for a veteran bounty hunter like Dengar.


Dengar had a more expanded role in Aftermath: Life Debt, when he accepted a job working for Mercurial Swift with other bounty hunters including Embo. Their mission was to capture a Zabrak named Jas (niece of bounty hunter Sugi, who Dengar had worked with back in the Clone Wars), which was successful. 


However, when Jas offered Dengar and Embo full pardons from the New Republic if they helped her capture Grand Admiral Rae Sloane at the Battle of Jakku, they betrayed Mercurial Swift and sided with their former captive. 


While Sloane was not captured, Dengar still managed to get that full pardon from the New Republic and a modest fee for his help. He continued to work for Jas for a short while after the battle. 


Rothgar Deng


Rothgar Deng


Infamously, it has been all-but confirmed that Dengar appears in The Rise of Skywalker, under a different name. The Star Wars Book tells us that at some point during the New Republic era, Dengar underwent cybernetic surgery to remain competitive with new and emerging bounty hunters, and he was left barely recognizable after the surgery. 


A cyborg character by the name of Rothgar Deng appears on Kijimi in The Rise of Skywalker and the film’s visual dictionary – written by Pablo Hidalgo – describes Deng as an old Corellian bounty hunter who underwent cybernetic surgery in order to work as a bounty hunter forever. It was only a rumor that Rothgar Deng was actually Dengar, but there are too many coincidences to ignore here. 


In the comic Star Wars Adventures #9, Rothgar Deng is referred to as Dengar, which basically confirms this upsetting detail. Rothgar Deng was apparently considered one of the galaxy’s top bounty hunters, so if the rumor is true, it seems Dengar did end up getting what he wanted.


Of course, Kijimi was destroyed shortly after Rothgar Deng was seen there, but it’s unclear if he died on the planet or not. It wouldn’t be surprising if he’s revealed to have survived but it doesn’t look good for him. 


What next?


Dengar in Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures


Dengar will likely pop up next in future bounty hunter comics set after Return of the Jedi, when perhaps we’ll start to get stories showing his cybernetic surgery and confirming his transformation into Rothgar Deng. We’re bound to get plenty more Dengar stories as Lucasfilm fully commit to fleshing out the New Republic era. 


Dengar also popped up in the canon-adjacent Lego Star Wars series The Freemaker Adventures (often as comic relief), so there’s always an opportunity for him to pop up again in future Lego projects.

Josh is a huge Star Wars fan, who has spent far too much time wondering if any Star Wars character could defeat Thanos with all the Infinity Stones.