The first details about Star Wars' long fabled "Project Luminous" were officially announced today with Lucasfilm and DIsney Publishing pulling back the curtain on "The High Republic" publishing event, meant to help "fuel the fandom" in the years waiting for the next theatrical chapter in the franchise. The new series will be set 200 years before the Skywalker Saga begins and will feature all-new Jedi characters but it's the all-new villains that have caught fans' attention. Revealed at the event, The High Republic will introduce The Nihils to the franchise, a group whose name is raising eyebrows across the galaxy far, far away.
Lucasfilm officially describes the group as "space vikings" and Director Creative at Lucasfilm Publishing Michael Siglain revealed that the motto of this new group is "You can't take it with you, but we can take it from you." Beyond that, little is known about them, but their outfits certainly call back to The Cloud-Riders from Solo: A Star Wars Story. The name however, "The Nihils," also seems like a callback to none other than Darth Nihilus from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords.
As fans recall, KOTOR II took place thousands of years before the events of the Star Wars feature films which would make a connection between the Sith Lord and this new villain group tenuous at best. The "space vikings" descriptor seems to imply that the Nihils will be raider-like bandits who, based on the concept art and illustrations, do not appear to be Force users at a glance. However, the names both stem from the Latin root word "nihil," meaning nothing. Ironically, as far as we know, Darth Nihilus has been relegated to the no-longer canon "Legends" continuity of Star Wars (I.E. anything made before Disney purchased Lucasfilm) and this the connection between the villains may in fact be nothing.
There's still a possibility that there is some kind of connection as the High Republic announcement revealed that one of the driving narratives behind the series is the question: "What scares the Jedi?" One thing that certainly could scare them is the Jedi purge, previously carried out by Darth Nihilus, and perhaps his mission has been picked up by a new group in the story and is in fact one of the things that scares them. If there is a connection between Darh Nihilus and The Nihils, we likely won't find out about it officially until the first book in Star Wars: The High Republic is released.
The first books and comics will make their world debut at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim this August featuring the novel Star Wars: The High Republic: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule as the flagship book of the initiative.