Things kick up a notch in The High Republic #2 and IDW The High Republic Adventures enters the madness. Mild spoilers.
I am still working my way through Claudia Gray’s Into The Dark (my thoughts on that coming Monday) but was able to read both Marvel The High Republic #2 and IDW The High Republic Adventures #1 (thank the stars for digital during this time as the physical copies of these comics have proven quite difficult to get through local comic shops). Here are my thoughts on both issues out this week:
Star Wars The High Republic #2 : Tomb in Space
At first, when I read The High Republic #1, I thought that having Keeve Trennis complete her Jedi trials in one issue might be moving too quickly. It was the first time, as a reader and watcher of the films, seeing a Jedi trial instead of hearing about it and I was a little disappointed that it didn’t spread out over multiple issues. However, after reading the second issue, Keeve being a newly knighted Jedi makes a far more interesting challenge of learning what that means…and also dealing with losing a connection with her former Master Sskeer.
Keeve, Sskeer and Jedi twins Ceret and Terec are on a new mission to investigate a distress call in the Galactic Frontier. Ceret and Terec are new to the reader and are Kotabi bond-twins (meaning they share the same mind). I believe this is also a completely new species introduced to Star Wars so the series is reminding me of the more positive side of watching the Prequel Trilogy and seeing so many new species within the Jedi Order. Keeve is still trying to understand why Sskeer seems to be distancing himself from her, calling her Trennis instead of Keeve, when they come across the brutal aftermath of a ship raid. Upon investigating further, it is clear (especially if you read Light of the Jedi) that this was a Nihil attack. Sskeer comes to that realization too, and with it returns his traumatic experience battling them the first time and losing his arm in the process. Sskeer has a moment, shocking his former Padawan, where he loses himself in his anger and it is clear that he is closing his connection off from Avar Kriss and Keeve for a reason. Whether that is to keep a calm front for his colleagues or to hide the fact that he is traveling down a dark path, we are still left to wonder.
Whereas the last issue was very much focused on introducing Keeve Trennis as a Jedi Knight, this issue is focused on Sskeer and the trials and struggles that start after you become a Jedi. Keeve is learning firsthand what the aftermath of a battle is doing to Sskeer so what lessons will she learn along the way? Bringing it back to the Prequel era, this issue also reminded me of the arcs from The Clone Wars with Anakin and Ahsoka, but it looks like the next issue will be focusing on Ceret and Terec given the cliffhanger ending. Overall, this is a great second issue that raised the stakes and introduced new characters while not completely sidelining ones we already met (Vernestra Rwoh even has a brief cameo). There is also an interesting mystery developing involving Bacta technology and the Hutts. Just like in Light of the Jedi, reading about new technologies and innovations that are familiar by the time of the Skywalker Saga and how those evolve is a nice secondary treat. I do wish that these issues came out closer together but, understandably, Lucasfilm is spacing the releases to give fans, like me, who are reading everything time to get caught up before throwing more content our way. But for people who are only reading the comics, I worry that they might lose interest (although I dare anyone reading this issue not to get hooked by the time they finish).
IDW The High Republic #1: Collision Course
Meanwhile, IDW and Lucasfilm released their first High Republic issue, written by Daniel Jose Older centered around Padawans. We are dropped, literally, into action right away with the Padawans as they attempt to help citizens of Trymant IV being threatened by debris from The Great Disaster. We meet some of the main players that will be involved in this series through the perspectives of two characters: Jedi Padawan Lula Talisola (what a Star Wars name!) and Trymant IV refugee Zeen Mrala, who both have a secret that they’ve been keeping from their colleagues and friends. Lula is not as confident as she projects herself to be and Zeen is force-sensitive. We see Yoda, a few hundred years younger, and meet fellow Jedi Master Torban Buck, a Chagrain leading the Padawans into the rescue mission. We also meet Lula’s fellow Padawans and friends, Farzala and Qort, a Zygerrian and unknown species respectfully. Just like with Marvel The High Republic, it is great to see new species but also the Zygerrian species show up again in the Jedi Order, given that this was the species from The Clone Wars that built a slave Empire and aligned themselves with the Separatists against the Jedi. Like Tomb in Space, Collision Course ends on quite the cliffhanger (and possibly with a cameo of a major High Republic villain) and we have to wait a month to see how our young characters maneuver out of the situation. Having been lukewarm on Jose Older’s Star Wars novel, Last Shot, but impressed with his narrative structure in the short story “STET!” from A Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back, I mentioned in a previous post that I was looking forward to his writing in comic form as I thought he would likely shine and it is nice to be proven right. The art by Harvey Tolibao and color by Rebecca Nalty is beautifully realized, especially for Zeen, who is a Mikkia (a species we have also not seen since The Clone Wars with the Jedi twins Tiplar and Tiplee).
Overall, a strong part two for Cavan Scott continuing the story of Keeve Trennis and Master Sskeer and a great kickoff for Jose Older’s High Republic Adventures as we explore more of the High Republic through comics.