Daniel Jose Older’s Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #1 from IDW Publishing is about the same era as the other High Republic comics and novels, as the latest part of the greater High Republic publishing initiative. It is the heyday of the Republic, and the Jedi are the greatest paladins of the age – masterful icons of peace, justice, compassion, blah blah blah. You know the drill. After a devastating hyperspace disaster, the Jedi are roaming the galaxy trying to save lives and prevent the disaster from claiming more victims, but a group of mysterious evil pirates in cool metal masks called the Nihil are trying to seize advantage of the situation.
And that’s the whole plot. Jedi saving lives, Nihil doing some murders, and innocent civilians – including one of our two protagonists, a young girl from a culture that reviles use of the Force – caught in the middle. There’s some fun stuff in the margins – overconfident young Master Yoda, for instance, is delightful – but that’s the basic plot. It’s not complicated.
That simplicity is not a bad thing, by any means, either. I hate to directly compare two comics when I review them. A story usually deserves to be considered on its own merits first, before it’s put into the context of the other contemporaneous books. But High Republic Adventures is coming out at the exact same time as another High Republic book, the eponymous comic written by Cavan Scott. The two really should be compared.
But Older’s High Republic Adventures ends up looking significantly better in the comparison. Scott’s High Republic basically throws you straight into the deep-end. It assumes that you’ve read the kickoff book to the High Republic era, Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi, and then just goes from there. Which, as people have only so much time in the day, results in some confused people!
Older, however, doesn’t do this. Without being repetitive or just expositing at the reader, he concisely and quickly explains what is going on, and grounds the characters in a greater context while also letting us simultaneously understand our protagonists and their emotional states. It’s honestly impressive. I almost wish that Older had the main book, and Cavan Scott was given the side one.
The art, however, isn’t quite as impressive. Harvey Tolibao’s art is heavily lined, especially on the faces, which makes the people look wrinkled and strange, but without the expressiveness of a Villalobos or a Quitely. It’s better on the more humanoid characters, but Yoda especially just looks strange. Similarly, the backgrounds are almost overstylized, and rely on big blocks of greenery to avoid actually drawing backgrounds.
It’s a shame, though, because the actual ships and pirates look great – I’d love to see Tolibao on something like Transformers, or Alien. But it’s not a thing that makes the book unreadable. I still recommend the book – I just can only recommend a qualified recommendation. Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #1 is a delightful little story that offers a great way into the High Republic era.
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