Even though they are releasing at a snail’s pace and cost 3.99 USD, I do recommend both Marvel The High Republic and IDW The High Republic Adventures. They feature characters that are not highlighted in the novels (currently) and this is these are the first comic appearances for some characters, like Avar Kriss, Sskeer, and Vernestra Rhow who do feature heavily in the novels. Though, because of the price of each issue, it is likely that comic readers might only choose one. I am officially halfway through Marvel The High Republic (if it remains a 6-issue run) so can give midway thoughts but need to wait another month for IDW The High Republic Adventures. Alright, now let’s talk comics:
The High Republic #3 : Down Below
We are halfway through Marvel The High Republic and the Jedi come face to face with the Drengir after one of their own goes missing. But first, Avar Kriss and Sskeer have a heated argument while Jedi Knight Keeve Trennis is waiting outside of the ship just like a child shut out of the adult conversation. There was enough conflict in the first few pages that I don’t think we even needed to involve the Drengir in this issue. The citizens of Sedri Minor, where the Jedi investigation of the dead Hutt has taken them, have mixed feelings of their presence. A couple’s child has gone missing and they see the Jedi’s arrival as an opportunity to help but others want nothing to do with them or the Republic. I would have also loved to spend more time in the minds of Keeve and Sskeer, with Keeve doubting her abilities as a Jedi and feeling helpless as she watches her former master fall deeper into darkness and Sskeer wondering why he doesn’t feel like himself during his argument with Kriss. It would have been a nice breather midway but there is no time for that in this issue as Keeve is quickly pulled into more danger, while on the ship, Terec is succumbing to whatever his twin Ceret is going through.
This sets up a showdown next issue of Jedi against Jedi with the Drengir pulling the strings. I was a little disappointed with this issue mainly because I am not a fan of the Drengir. I feel like their ability to take over Jedi in some form is a cheat for some to quickly fall to the dark side. Maybe I will feel differently as we get to know more about them but a villain that just wants to conquer worlds and refers to beings as “meat” seems one-dimensional. I do think the key for the Jedi in understanding the Drengir, and ultimately how to defeat it, might rest with the bond twins Terec and Ceret. The Jedi keep taking some big losses in this series so far so we’ll see what the next issue has in store for our troubled heroes.
IDW The High Republic Adventures #2: Bralanak City Smackdown
Meanwhile, on Trymant IV, Lula, Zeen, and the other Padawans are surrounded by the Nihil, who are attempting to excavate a leader of the Elders of the Path, Elder Tromak. Per Wookiepedia, this religious group (which Zeen and her friend Krix are members) believes the force is dangerous and should not be sensed by any living being. This explains why Zeen has been so intent on keeping her force-sensitivity a secret but it doesn’t explain why the Elders, or at least this Elder leader, is important to the Nihil. Tromak seems to have vital information that is worthy enough to have the leader of the Nihil, Marchion Ro, lead the mission. Yes, even though he is not mentioned by name, IDW issue #1 was the first comic appearance of the main villain of The High Republic and this issue is his first speaking role. We get a great look at his costume and statue (he appears more intimidating than the portrait painting in Light of the Jedi). In the middle of this issue, we also are given a great look at the two main ships involved: the Nihil’s Spider Cruiser and the Jedi’s The Star Hopper as well as specs for each ship (hyperspace capabilities, the number required to fly, crew).
Luckily, for Zeen and the Padawans, Yoda and Buckets of Blood arrive to help fight off the Nihil. Well, mainly Yoda as Buckets of Blood is truly a nod to writer Daniel Jose Older’s coworker during his Paramedic days: he is not a fighter so much as a healer (which is also a nice twist on masculinity to have the most physically intimidating Jedi be the most peaceful). Yoda appears to be enough intimidation as Marchion Ro knows who he is and wants no part of the little green Jedi Master. This further underlines Marchion Ro’s deep knowledge of the Jedi if he knows key leaders by name. It could be from the spy on Chancellor Soh’s team or he could have deeper ties to the Jedi. I’m betting it is the latter and, for this reason, IDW The High Republic Adventures is the more interesting comic series so far. I like both, but I am more intrigued by the Nihil as villains than the Drengir. Character-wise, I still give the edge to Marvel The High Republic as I think the internal battles the Jedi face in that series will ultimately be more important to the overall story.
If you are only reading comics, I would recommend reading both Marvel and IDW; however, if you are reading or have read the adult novel Light of the Jedi, I would recommend Marvel The High Republic as that would give you a more complete picture of all the challenges the Jedi are currently facing and that has more direct links to Light of the Jedi (you know why Avar Kriss is Marshal of Starlight Beacon and you know why Master Sskeer is struggling with the dark side).