The Emperor’s Royal Guardsmen, while never amounting to much in the movies, kicked butt across the expanded universe. After the death of the Emperor, their reputation stood. They were still known as ruthless, loyal, and hard to match in combat. Eventually they were all wiped out, save for one who remained loyal to his Emperor; Kir Kanos, star of the comic series Crimson Empire.
My purist Kir Kanos figure uses pieces from the Old Republic battle pack featuring Sith and Republic troopers. His body and legs are that of the elite blood-colored Sith trooper, with his arms switched from gray to the same shade of red with grey ‘gloves.’ The helmet and cape, which is two shades of red depending on what side you’re looking at, come from the Death Star troopers battle pack. The hair piece belongs to a Clone Wars Anakin figure, and the face came from one of the Navarro rifleman from the short-lived Lone Rangers themed battle pack.
In this shot you can see his armor details slightly better. While it isn’t 100% accurate to the comics in color, I feel it captures his look quite well. Kir Kanos is something of an antihero, loyal to a deceased villain and seeking to destroy traitors to the Empire. In his comic series, he wasn’t known to make friends. A massive bounty was placed on his head by the Imperial Remnant, and he faced treachery at every turn while on the hunt for his former friend and aspiring Sith Lord Carnor Jax.
This figure isn’t a very good representation of Carnor Jax, however he is similar. As a Sovereign Protector, the most elite of the Royal Guards, Jax went on to pursue the throne of the Empire years after the deaths of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. In his earlier days, he became friends with Kir Kanos, and the pair trained together to become royal guardsmen. His personal guards are the black-armored stormtroopers seen here. I won’t spoil too much of the story, but the Crimson Empire collection is one of my favorite comic series. It mixes politics and action with a good antihero-type lead character who stops at nothing and never betrays his personal ideals. What he does, he does for himself, and while that may sound selfish, there’s more at play with his sense of self as a person. There’s many classic Star Wars themes at play in Crimson Empire, just played from different angle.
Kir Kanos fights an Empire’s worth of adversaries throughout his books, from stormtroopers to Jax’s elite, black-armored stormtroopers, and bounty hunters sent on behalf of Grappa the Hutt. For cover, Kanos sometimes worked under the guise of a bounty hunter himself named Kenix Kil.
***SKIP the next two paragraphs to avoid spoilers for the Crimson Empire storyline and the novels Star Wars Aftermath and Aftermath: Life Debt***
Some small elements of the Crimson Empire saga have seemingly been incorporated into the new canon under Disney. While Kir Kanos is absent, one of his adversaries is present in the form of the Imperial Future Council. In Star Wars Aftermath, a group organized under the leadership of Grand Admiral Rae Sloane to reach a settlement on the future of the Empire. Their meeting on the planet Akiva does not go to plan, and the council members are killed, save for Admiral Sloane. It is later revealed that a mysterious fleet admiral named Gallius Rax organized the summit himself, and orchestrated its downfall to eliminate weak leadership in the Empire. He would go on to feed other Imperial targets to the New Republic, shedding further weak links and poor, misguided leadership. Eventually, that’s how the First Order comes into being.
Similarly, Crimson Empire’s Imperial Ruling Council tried to reorganize the Empire after the Emperor was killed. Originally in place even before his death, the council was in a constant state of flux as aspiring Moffs, advisors, politicians, and military minds vied for the Emperor’s favor, later even his title after he had been killed. The span of time that the Ruling Council held sway is a large one, and probably too much to get into with just a simple figure presentation. But let it be known that the intricacies of Imperial politics aren’t entirely lost in the new canon. There’s still plenty of scheming, plotting, and backstabbing not only in the Empire, but also in the fallout after Endor.
EU/Legends characters like Grand Admiral Thrawn and indirect characters like Fenn Rau (who references the concept of the Cuy’val Dar, a group of Mandalorians who helped train the Republic clone troopers) mean anything can happen in the new canon. While I had mixed feelings about the wiping of the Legends canon at first, so far it is going well and I’m enjoying it. That being said, I don’t think Kir Kanos is going to pop up any time soon. However, I don’t think it will be long before we get a new version of his character, a dark, fiercely-loyal agent of the Emperor who stops at nothing to achieve his master’s goals. We’ve seen Royal Guards in books such as Lords of the Sith, and while they aren’t game changers in the canon, they were enjoyable characters throughout the book.
What’s your take on Kir Kanos and the rest of the Royal Guard? Let me know what you think of him and the build in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading!