Many Jedi made an impression in The High Republic Phase One, whether through the character journeys over multiple novels or the impact of a single moment that lived on through their peers in the Jedi Order. And then some of the Jedi just had excellent character design. Jedi Master Sav Malagán was first introduced in IDW The High Republic Adventures #8 when the team of Padawans travels to Takodana, where the Nihil are attacking the Jedi temple.
They meet Sav and Maz Kanata, who also provide insight into Padawan Qort as the young Aloxian was discovered by Maz in her castle there as a baby. Maz and Sav had such a rapport that it was clear that there was a story behind their long friendship.
In The High Republic Adventures Phase Two #1, we get to the story’s beginning and learn that Sav, like Qort, came to Takodana as a baby. Sav was born on the planet Phatrong, but like most Jedi, she was taken by the Jedi before she could remember anything meaningful about her homeworld.
When we meet Sav as a young Padawan, 150 years before her introduction in Phase One, she is bored with being a Padawan, despite being one of the most powerful Force-users at fifteen. Given a Kyuza’s long lifespan, she is basically a toddler.
To cure her boredom, Sav often sneaks out of the Takodana temple to Maz Kanata’s and observes the different people who come through. Many she already knows, including…Dexter Jettster and Therm Scissorpunch!
What a way to discover the long lifespan of Besalisks and Nephrans. It is an excellent way to include more obscure characters with a cult fanbase. Sav is also a fan of Dexter, who at this time is a well-known prospector in the galaxy. She follows him to ask him about the types of stories he deems worthy of legend; however, she quickly realizes that he is tailing a pirate hunter named Raf. Then the three stumble upon something more sinister in the woods. Raf has been investigating Arkik Von and discovered he is building a collective that includes a group called the Dank Graks to take out Maz and the Jedi. It turns out that Maz Kanata and the Jedi on Takodana now have a common enemy.
In the end, Sav’s curiosity gets her an invitation to accompany Maz and her crew on a mission. So Sav becomes the second Padawan in canon to partner with pirates (Ahsoka and the Younglings team up with Hondo, and his crew in The Clone Wars was the first).
The story is pretty simple and very familiar in Star Wars: a young, bright-eyed Force-sensitive, bored with her mundane life, stumbles upon a plan that puts her in danger and leaves her home to help fight the enemy. Except the heroes, in this case, are pirates.
The balance of story and character introductions is handled expertly by Daniel José Older. His writing style fits so well with the tone of the Star Wars Adventure comics, which made IDW Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures in Phase One more engaging than Marvel Star Wars: The High Republic.
Speaking of character introductions, Sav narrates who she is at the beginning of the issue. When she arrives at Maz’s Castle, she tells us about all the interesting regulars with added commentary. Older also tends to lean meta with modern colloquialisms in tone, and that comes across, particularly when discussing the characters:
Including these two is an excellent way to up-cycle characters that might not have gotten initial use in their first canon appearances. Sav does not seem to fit into the structured Jedi Order and enjoys chaos (trying to start a fight between Arkik and Raf when that is the only rule). And she does not want the patrons at Maz’s Castle to know she is a Jedi either. She tries to hide this from Dexter and the pirate, Raf, who Dexter is tailing. However, when they are discovered by guard droids and fight their way out, Sav has to reveal herself as a Jedi. At this moment, we get a sense of her confidence and vulnerability in her abilities.
Dexter promises to keep her secret and does not tell Maz, but it is difficult to believe that the Force-sensitive pirate queen does not know, so I assume she is playing along for now.
Older describes the Dank Graks as a team as a criminal group whose members are former dark-side cultists. The leader, Arkik Von, is also introduced in this issue, and we learn that his disdain for Maz goes back to when she conned him out of a score years ago. The score was Takodana, so we have an idea now of when exactly Maz settled on the planet. For the most part, Maz’s character has remained a mystery, her stories told with fleeting cameos of acquaintances. But Sav has known her for a long time, so this series could be the most we get from Maz.
I am guessing that we will learn more about Alak and his silent right-hand killer, Quiet Shan, in upcoming issues, as well as Coromont Vizzle, but they are also a part of the crew with Therm and Jexter.
How Sav’s story connects to the others in Phase Two, involving The Path of the Open Hand, missing Pathfinding teams, and the Eiram–E’ronoh war, remains to be read, but the set-up in the first issue is promising.