DrunkWooky Comic Review: Star Wars: The High Republic #1 (Scott, Anindito, 2020)

Welcome back, EveryWookiee to a very exciting comic book review brought to you by TFAW! Tomorrow sees the start of a new era in Star Wars comics, the publishing and release of Star Wars: The High Republic #1 by Cavan Scott and pencilled by Ario Anindito! Through anonymous sources, I managed to get an advance copy and I will say that this comic series is off to a strong start with enough new and enticing content to keep readers coming back.

Excitement over this issue has been high and it is sold out all over the place! There are multiple covers that you can grab at your local comic shop tomorrow or off eBay if you strike out locally: Noto Cover A, Hans Cover B, Anandito 1:10 variant, Kenny 1:10 design variant, and a Sway 1:25 variant. I’d urge you to check your local comics purveyor first, though.

Selling out of most covers, TFAW is now offering a second print that was solicited before release date of issue #1! It features interior art from the last page of issue #1.

Here’s the official solicit with my review below!

THERE IS NO FEAR, PART I 

BEFORE THE SKYWALKER SAGA! THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE JEDI! A new era of STAR WARS storytelling begins. It is centuries before the SKYWALKER SAGA. The JEDI are at their height, protecting the galaxy as REPUBLIC pioneers push out into new territories. As the Frontier prepares for the dedication of majestic STARLIGHT BEACON, PADAWAN KEEVE TRENNIS faces the ultimate choice — will she complete her Jedi Trials or rescue the innocent from disaster? New Jedi! New ships! New evils to fight!

FORMAT Comic PAGE COUNT 28 pages COVER PRICE $3.9 9DISTRIBUTOR SKU NOV200589

Writer: Cavan Scott, Penciller: Ario Anindito, Inker: Mark Morales

Era Building

First of all, beware dear readers, light spoilers are ahead. I’ll try and keep major spoilers out, but light spoilers are somewhat unavoidable.

There is, of course, no need to world build here. The Star Wars galaxy has been populated by scores of creative teams in movies, comics, books. video games, cartoons, and live action tv shows for decades. Some of those are canon, some are now “Legends.” The High Republic publishing initiative occupies a new era in the Star Wars galaxy, however. “The High Republic” may sound similar to the mostly Legends “Old Republic” era from the Dark Horse publishing days.

The Old Republic Era occupied 8,000 BBY (Before Battle of Yavin) to 1,000 BBY. The High Republic era occupies 300 BBY to 82 BBY. So not quite as old as Old Republic and a few decades before the events of Episode I the Phantom Menace. Recent enough for a much younger Yoda to be present! YES!

Now, it’s important to note that this comic series, the High Republic, is part of a Lucasfilm publishing initiative across multiple media. There is the Charles Soule novel, Light of the Jedi, which deals with a system-wide catastrophe in the Hetzal system. Jedi Master Avar Kriss along with some other familiar faces from this comic are pulled away to deal with that. I’ve read the first 10 chapters of that book so far and it’s well worth the read. There are also a number of other books for varying ages and reading levels.

I bring this up because each of these writers and artists are era-building. So, there are going to be references to other works across the different books and comics. This comic series occurs after Light of the Jedi. In the Marvel High Republic #1 comic, there are passing references to the catastrophe at Hetzal without spoilers as to what that catastrophe was. They do, however, reference certain Jedi who lost their lives there and Jedi Master Sskeer only has one arm at this point because of it. It isn’t strictly necessary to have read Light of the Jedi in order to be up to speed here, though. This era revolves around a new space center called the Starlight Beacon. It’s primary purpose is sort of an interstellar lighthouse, broadcasting a signal guiding travelers through the seldom-explored outer rim regions.

Beyond that, there are new Jedi ships, Vectors, and scores of Jedi padawans, Knights, and Masters of varying personalities and dispositions.

The Comic Itself

We start our immersion into the sequential art era of the High Republic by meeting Jedi Padawan, Keeve Trennis and her Master, the one-armed Trandoshan Jedi, Sskeer.

Keeve is a mouthy, cursing Padawan on the verge of becoming a Knight. She’s unsure of herself in spite of her obvious strength in the Force and physical prowess. Sskeer probably has no small part in that uncertainty. He’s harsh, stoic, but not uncaring. He’s concocted a final Padawan trial for Keeve and she finds herself in the midst of it quite by surprise.

This issue is a brand new introduction of brand new characters, places, and stories. For those uninitiated to the Star Wars galaxy, they should be able to pick this up with relatively little loss of context. Yes, there are the passing references’ to Soule’s novel I mentioned before, but it’s not necessary to have read that prior to picking up this issue. Issue #1 is full of twists and turns that start on page 2.

Throughout Keeve’s trial, she’s pestered by a flying sentient alien called a Ximpi, testing her focus. This, of course, becomes integral to the story as the Ximpi’s city is threatened by a swarm of space locusts. We all love some lightsaber duels in our Star Wars stories, but Scott makes the smart call to move in a more creative direction. Keeve uses some more obscure and interesting Force powers to solve the issue, communing with the giant insects. This page in particular was where I personally felt Anindito and Morales really shone bright! Sparse text with descriptive images washed in beautiful colors, give you all the info you need! A truly unique visual experience that you can really only get in comics:

Having said that, don’t worry, there is a small smattering of lightsaber action in this issue, but there’s bound to be tons more to come!

Keeve dealing with the swarm ties together nicely with the operations of Starlight Beacon in an ingenious self-contained tale that introduces us not only to Sskeer and Keeve, but also Master Avar Kriss, Estala Maru, Grandmaster Veter, and reintroduces us to a younger, more spry, Grandmaster Yoda! Sorry, no action from Yoda…yet. Each of these characters are first appearing here in comics (except Yoda of course). It is, however, contested that Avar Kriss first appears in two panels as a hologram in Rise of Kylo Ren #3.

There are also a number of faces in the crowds in the final pages, but in comparing them to some of the Knights and Padawans that have been announced, none seemed to be characters I could name at this time. All, except the Ithorian Jedi Knight which I vaguely remember referenced in Soule’s book. Keep an eye on them though. This would be their cameo if they turn out to be players in the High Republic.

I could continue to gush over some of the canonical nods in this issue like Sskeer’s reference to the birth place of the Jedi Order (and Sith for that matter), Tython, or Keeve’s inclusion of a brand new Jedi mantra not included in the traditional Jedi Code we know, but suffice to say there is enough fanboy service to keep die hard Star Wars fans searching the pages and giddy with discovery. Did you know Trandoshans grow limbs back? I didn’t.

There is much, much, much more ahead for this series. You can just tell. This issue was merely introduction to our chief protagonists and the named main antagonists, the Nihil, have not even appeared yet. This fun, fast-paced, self-contained tale gives us all the seeds for a beautiful new era for the Star Wars Galaxy, though! We’re left on a cliff-hanger. Something is disturbing Sskeer and there’s no telling what it is! We’ll need to tune in next time to find out.

Anindito and Morales give use varied and dynamic panel layouts with interesting perspectives and angles, littered with juicy details. The whole thing is bathed in the bright colors and lights of a new era, the High Republic!

Star Wars The High Republic issue #1 is on sale now!

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