**Spoilers for The High Republic Adventures Issues #6 – 11**
Mission to Bilbousa
Issues #6 and #7 focus on the Jedi alliance with the Hutts from Padawan Farzala’s POV and features cameos from Claudia Gray’s Into the Dark.
Farzala and Qort are on their way with Jedi Master Obratuk as an envoy to the Hutt capital on Nal Hutta, ferried by Affie Hallow, Leox Gyasi, and Geode. With the door opened by Avar Kriss, Obratuk and the Padawans go to negotiate a lasting peace treaty with Skarabda the Hutt (Chief Diplomatic Envoy). Unfortunately for Farzala, Obratuk goes into hibernation (yes, they brought a species that hibernates), so he has to lead the envoy.
To Farzala’s credit, things go smoothly until their ship mysteriously fires on them. Farzala is detained as Affie, Leox, Geode, and Qort are stuck on their ship with mercenaries trying to sabotage peace talks. Farzala has to talk himself out of his hopelessness to save the day.
The story builds around Farzala’s perspective of his favorite Jedi Master Tal Bota, who lived long before the High Republic and was known for fighting alone. Farzala’s admiration for Bota, based on fictionalized stories, contrasts his fear of being alone in prison on Nal Hutta.
While many characters appear in these two episodes (including a very familiar Hutt), the two main characters here and Farzala and his Master Obratuk. Farzala got little to do in the first six issues of The High Republic Adventures, with the focus on Lula and Zeen. In these two issues, we see his insecurities compared to his friends as he mourns fallen and missing Jedi (we learn Yoda is still missing after leaving the Junk Moon with Elder Tromak).
This is Jedi Master Obratuk Glii’s first appearance in canon and one of the few Parwans mentioned. The other mentions were small parts in The Clone Wars, and here we get more information on the species (specifically that they hibernate and live for several centuries). It is unclear whether Obratuk pretends to be hibernating because he senses danger or to encourage his Padawan’s growth. In a flashback, we see him training Farzala and telling him that all his lightsabers are from his past Padawans as a way to honor their memory. His words of wisdom to Farzala to not fear death and that those lost are always with them pushes Farzala to break out of his internal and external prison. Farzala realizes that strength comes in numbers and, unlike the fictionalized accounts of Tal Bota, he does not have to fight alone. It is also nice to see a Zygerrian portrayed positively as the species is often tied to slavery in canon.
This is the first mention of Jedi Master Tal Bota, who lived during an era rife with Sith (before the Rule of Two). And even though it is mentioned that most of the stories were heavily fictionalized, Bota the Jedi was real. No exact date was confirmed, but it leaves the door open for another period in Star Wars to be explored (possibly the Old Republic).
Back Together and Away Again and the Great Jedi Rumble Race
Just when I wondered whether Qort would ever get anything meaningful to do, The High Republic Adventures issues #8-10 deliver one of the more compelling backstories for a Padawan. And issue #11 continues Lula’s journey struggling with the risks of the life of a Jedi.
The art style in “Back Together and Away Again”, done by Toni Bruno portrays the Padawans more as young adults. This is a sharp contrast to previous depictions of the Padawans by artist Harvey Tolibau.
Zeen reflects on her short time with the Jedi when she and Lula return to Starlight Beacon from Valo, bringing Ram Jomaram with them. The two reunite with Farzala and Qort back from their mission on Bilbousa and Zeen is happy that she is no longer the new kid (that distinction now belongs to Ram). However, their joy is interrupted with a briefing request from Jedi Masters Torban Buck and Kantam Sy. A Jedi Temple located on Takodana is under attack by a Nihil cell known to strike consecutively against Jedi Outposts. The Jedi believe Zeen’s former friend, Krix Kamarat, to be the cell leader. The team travels to Takodana, meeting with Jedi Master Sav Malagan and Maz Kanata (of course), who also provide insight to Qort as he was discovered by Maz there as a baby.
The group also has to deal with two sisters, Sabata and Bareen, who come to the Jedi Temple wanting to defect from the Nihil and whether to trust them. One sister does end up double-crossing them and blows up the temple to escape, damaging Qort’s skull mask in the process, and paving the way for a new chapter in the Aloxian’s life.
After the ordeal on Takadona, the Padawans take a break by participating in the tradition of the Great Jedi Rumble Race. While it is supposed to be a joyous occasion, Lula cannot stop thinking about everything bad that has happened and what more might be on the horizon. Meanwhile, Sabata (the double-crossing sister), begins a sinister plan with a Corellian power broker to get rid of Krix and the Jedi Padawans.
Qort is the biggest beneficiary of these issues. We get new information on his species, his backstory, and he starts to communicate in Basic. The first part of Qort’s story is told through Maz Kanata’s perspective when she finds him in a cargo ship and discovers his Force-sensitivity, handing him over to Sav. The second part is through Qort’s eyes leading to his decision to leave his skull mask behind, metaphorically crossing into young adulthood. He also proves to be a formidable opponent to the Nihil.
As Qort fully embraces trusting and communicating with his friends, Zeen’s friendship with Krix has hit a new low. After learning about Krix’s role in the Nihil, Zeen tells herself Krix was either going to bring joy or sorrow to the galaxy. We get a more complex portrait of Krix from Zeen’s perspective than we do from any scenes involving him. If Krix is a long-term character, he is in desperate need of a meaningful story that can put him front and center of his own development.
This might be coming soon as he has an adversary close by. Sabata Krill is strategic and observant enough to have the Jedi and Krix figured out. She quickly recognizes the Jedi’s weakness of attachments and plans to get rid of Krix by leading him into a confrontation with his former friend. Her sister, Bareen, is not a factor in this arc but perhaps could be a point of conflict for the team and Sabata. Star Wars thrives when it has light side versus dark side forces playing out through personal relationships. For The High Republic Adventures, it is Zeen and Krix. But one half of that conflict needs more work in the upcoming issues.
Sav Malagan is yet another Jedi Master with a considerably longer lifespan than humans. This is purely to give more context to Maz Kanata’s relationship with the Jedi. Maz continues to be the bridge between old and new periods since Yoda died in the Original Trilogy, and Maz Kanata is still around post-Sequel Trilogy. Sav does provide guidance for Qort and Lula, who we learn was an orphan when she was taken in by the Jedi Order. Lula’s anxiety of losing someone close to her feels more like an eerie prophecy marching towards tragedy, which does not bode well for any of her friends.
The big one is Qort’s species, the Aloxian, and their customs. Qort is from the planet Zav Alox, inhabited by the Aloxian and murderous Vonduun Crabs. Hunting a Vonduun is an initiation rite for young Aloxians and, if they succeed, wear the skull of their first kill. But it is not for bragging rights like other hunting species (Trandoshans). They believe it fuses with their head and helps balance out their aggressive nature, preventing their species from a constant state of civil war. They are born with immense physical strength and are naturally violent, thus high targets for trafficking to be used as child soldiers. And that is how Qort came to be in the company of pirate Maz Kanata and her smugglers. This is a lot of backstory for a new species not to pay off in future content. Whether we see more of the Aloxians in the High Republic or in other parts of the timeline, having a species that naturally leans into war is too good not to use again.
Also worth noting are a few panels dedicated to the younglings asking Masters Torbin and Kantam about Yoda and what happened to Loden Greatstorm. The Masters are honest with them about the fate of Loden, and the dialogue reflects the tough conversations that adults have to have with children when tragedy happens. Youthful exuberance meets cold reality as Farzala manages to escape a dark place emotionally, Zeen accepts that her childhood friend is gone, Qort matures into his own, and Lula continues to worry about her friend’s safety. Sounds like these Padawan’s are ready for a YA novel in the next High Republic Phase.