DJ is the most interesting new character introduced in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It’s not just Benicio del Toro’s engaging performance either. DJ was steeped in mystery, a substitute for another character who rolled out of a jail cell bed and never bothered to explain how he got there or where he might be going. He also proffered a new philosophy within the Star Wars universe, failing to align with either the Resistance or First Order. Unlike prior rogues Han Solo or Lando Calrissian, he wasn’t just looking out for himself, but reflecting a complete worldview on how systems use people within them. He left just as suddenly as he came, providing a brief glimpse of humanity before his terrible betrayal of Finn and Rose. All of that and a stutter, it’s no surprise we want more.
Marvel Comics is offering some answers this week with the one-shot Star Wars: The Last Jedi — DJ. The issue is written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker and drawn by Kev Walker. It is intended to explore the last events leading up to DJ’s introduction in the movie, likely ending with him starting a nap in the cell that Finn and Rose will soon enter. The comic provides more time with DJ, a better sense of his habits and perspective, but will be limited to less than 30 pages and the few hours prior to his imprisonment. We all know there’s a lot more story to DJ than that.
That’s why we believe there’s an ongoing series with DJ’s name on it. There is simply too much potential in the character to let it end with a one-shot and maybe another movie appearance. Poe Dameron headlines one of the most successful comics in the Star Wars line, digging into his exploits prior to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That is possible with DJ as well, and there’s more than one great opportunity to be found within a DJ ongoing series too.
Exploring the New Star Wars Underworld
Before we even delve into questions about DJ, we have to remember that he opens up a brand new setting for exploration. Besides Han Solo, Kanjiklub, and the Guavian Death Gang (may they all rest in peace), the new Star Wars trilogy has largely eschewed the underworld ties of the original. The new heroes are tied much more to the Resistance or First Order than any tertiary interests, meaning the odds of gangsters showing up in future films are significantly diminished. Yet the underworld has always been one of the most fascinating settings within Star Wars lore. There’s nothing to answer what organized crime looks like more than 20 years after Jabba the Hutt’s death, at least until DJ came around.
While it doesn’t appear that DJ reports to anyone, there’s no doubt that he has deep ties to the Star Wars underworld. His skills as a codebreaker and thief speak to an illicit career, one that the new comic further substantiates. Everything about his dress and mannerisms speak to a comfort in living outside the law as well. Following DJ’s story offers an intriguing and entertaining guide to the new status quo of the Star Wars’ underworld. We have no doubt that DJ is the man to show off the most wretched hives of scum and villainy, both new and old.
Discovering Who DJ Is
The DJ we meet in Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a fully formed character. He knows exactly what he believes and has no interest in changing (to the detriment of our heroes). The person on screen is fascinating, but begs the question of how he came to be the way he is. His monologue to Finn about the lack of good guys in the galaxy comes with a hint of experience. Was he ever a member of the Rebellion or the Empire? Is there a tragedy that led to his cynicism? Does he care about any person besides himself? There are no clear answers, only minor hints in the ephemera of Star Wars books. Small clues like his name being a shortened version of “Don’t Join” only increase the level of interest in how DJ came to be DJ.
Even if an ongoing series was limited in just how much it could reveal, the mystery of DJ himself makes for a fascinating core character. Every line and action he takes in Star Wars: The Last Jedi reveals a little bit more about the man he is. A comic doesn’t necessarily have to just deliver answers about his past, but could slowly reveal facts while focused on investigating his personality and philosophy. DJ is the sort of person where the journey is likely more satisfying than the destination. Even if only a little more is revealed, it would make the foundation for a very enjoyable comic book.
A Different Point of View
While exploring how DJ came to be is interesting, the most valuable aspect of an ongoing DJ series would be watching who DJ is. His existence in Star Wars: The Last Jedi served to challenge and highlight a variety of core themes. He points out moral ambiguity, the inherent evils of war (especially war profiteering), and objects to systems over individuals. His existence challenges many of the key themes of Star Wars and in a meaningful fashion. Even if his final action is cowardly, he’s not entirely wrong about the seemingly endless cycle of war that drives Star Wars forward. Whether or not we ultimately agree with DJ, his objections are worth examining.
Spending time with DJ on Canto Bight or traversing cities torn between the First Order and Resistance would offer a new perspective on the heroic battles being fought on screen. If anything, DJ brings a sense of humanity to the titular wars of these movies. His objections are founded in a life and stories of people who have not been hailed as heroes or conquerors. Those are stories worth telling and a comics series would provide them the necessary space to unpack such complex themes.
DJ is the most exciting new addition to the Star Wars universe and we want to see more of him. In addition to the mystery of how he came to be, he offers an opportunity to explore settings and ideas that are not broadly addressed in the films. That’s why an ongoing DJ series needs to happen.