The Mandalorian season 2 premiere has arrived and the world has been introduced to a new Star Wars character: the marshal, played by Timothy Olyphant. Well, "new Star Wars character" is actually a lie. We've actually met Cobb Vanth before – but only book readers would be aware of his presence in that galaxy far, far away.
Cobb Vanth was first introduced in the Star Wars book Aftermath, which takes place after Return of the Jedi but before The Force Awakens. The novel shows the beginnings of a new government after the Battle of Endor saw the Empire destroyed.
Cobb makes a relatively minor appearance in the book. A man named Adwin Charu acts a representative for the Red Key Raiders, a crime syndicate that sprouted up on Tatooine after the death of Jabba the Hutt. He meets with the Jawas for some mining equipment, as the syndicate wants to work under the guise of being a mining company, yet cannot come to any agreement with the Jawas. Enter Cobb.
Cobb agrees to help Adwin purchase some stuff from the Jawas, as Cobb has a rapport with the creatures. They look through the Jawas stuff, including the wreckage of Jabba's barge, and eventually come across some Mandalorian armour. They both want the armour, but Cobb pulls a blaster on Adwin and shoots him in the should before being shot himself. Cobb then order the still-alive Adwin to get out of town and to tell the rest of the Red Key Raiders to stop their nefarious affairs.
In the second Aftermath book, Aftermath: Life Debt, Cobb makes another appearance. Now the sheriff of Mos Pelgo (that's the same town we find him in during The Mandalorian), he's wearing the Mandalorian armour and taking a stand against the Red Key Raiders. In the novel, Cobb meets Malakili, the former beastmaster for Jabba. After some Red Key Raiders are killed, Malakili claims to be innocent and Cobb decides to take the beastmaster – and an infant Hutt – to Mos Pego (renamed Freetown) to start a different life.
In the final Aftermath book, Empire's End, Cobb and Malakili work together to create a deal with the Tusken Raiders to keep the town protected. The Tusken Raiders agree, due to the town being in a sacred location and having a Hutt – plus, they are promised the pearl from inside a Krayt Dragon. However, Red Key members come and capture the town before the Krayt Dragon can be killed. It's then revealed that Cobb was once a slave, as he has slave markings on his back. Soon enough, Tusken Raiders come and free Cobb from the Red Key members. they then drive out the crime syndicate, and Cobb vows to protect Freetown from thereon.
So, where does The Mandalorian premiere fit into all this? Well, as speculated ever since the first Aftermath book was released in 2015, the armour that Cobb fights Adwin over was, in fact, the armour of Boba Fett. This had never been confirmed before but was heavily hinted at in the following passage:
From the box, [Adwin] withdraws a helmet. Pitted and pocked, as if with some kind of acid. But still– he raps his knuckles on it. The Mandalorians knew how to make armor, didn’t they? “Look at this,” he says, holding it up. “Mandalorian battle armor. Whole box. Complete set, by the looks of it. Been through hell and back."
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Some kind of acid? Sounds like it had been in the belly of a Sarlacc for a while. In The Mandalorian season 2 premiere, we see Cobb get the armour – though he does not fight Adwin. Cobb's retelling of the story is, after all, a summarised version.
Din Djarin – the Mandalorian – meets Cobb after he's driven out the Red Key members, and they work with the Tusken Raiders once more to defeat the Krayt Dragon. This creates peace once more between Mos Pelgo and the Tusken Raiders, but Cobb loses Fett's armour to Djarin.
Phew. That's a lot of history to reckon with. But what else did we expect? Every character in the Star Wars universe has a huge Wikipedia page, we just didn't expect Timothy Olyphant's character to come pre-loaded with one.
Got some more questions about the Mandalorian season 2 premiere? Wondering who that bald man was? Click through that link for more info. And here's the full Mandalorian season 2 release schedule so you know when to expect episode 2.