200 years before the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, it’s the golden age of the Republic. Peace has been established and the Jedi are galactic protectors. The High Republic Vol. 1 starts off with the dedication of the Starlight Beacon, a station to expand the Republic’s reach to the Outer Rim territories. However, threats like the Nihil still lurk in the shadows, threatening this renaissance and biding their time to strike.
Star Wars: The High Republic is Marvel comic’s ongoing series being published in conjunction with the High Republic Adventures from IDW. This series is helmed by frequent Star Wars writer Cavan Scott (Star Wars Adventures, The Rising Storm) and artists Ario Anindito and Mark Morales. Picking up directly from the conclusion from the initial Light of the Jedi prose novel, The High Republic continues the adventures of Jedi Masters Sskeer and Avar Kriss, as well as introducing a new protagonist and a threat to the galaxy as a whole.
As a continuation of the High Republic’s overarching narrative, this volume pulls from a lot of previously established information. The book expects readers to be familiar with Masters Sskeer and Kriss, and where they are coming from out of the events of Light of the Jedi. In particular, Sskeer’s dealing with the after effects of the battle of Kur is a nice touch for concurrent readers, but may be jarring to new readers. The story does provide the loose context for such developments, but does not paint the whole picture. This approach works well for readers keeping up with the High Republic saga, but for new readers it does put them at a slight disadvantage. This is where the new character Keeve Trennis comes in.
The Padawan of Master Sskeer, Keeve serves as an initial audience surrogate as she grows throughout her journey. Issue #1 introduces us to her as she takes part in her final test before becoming a Jedi Knight. She’s headstrong and committed to the force, though her lack of experience sows seeds of doubt in her mind at times. Her internal monologue provides narration over the course of the five issues here, and gives us a more personal perspective into the book’s events. Keeve is immediately easy to latch onto and makes for a fun protagonist.
This arc also adds more pieces into place for other books to explore. The galaxy-wide threat of the Drengir, specifically, is an important addition. These carnivorous, plantlike creatures are discovered and serve as the main antagonist of the arc, as our protagonists are forced to confront them. Other developments include Starlight Beacon coming under attack from the inside, and the presence of the Hutt cartels being established. There’s enough world building and character work here to keep fans engaged throughout.
The artwork is also standout here. Anindito and Morales craft crisp alien worlds that look fully realized. From the backgrounds to the foregrounds, the artwork brings each distinct setting to life. Their work during the action set pieces also looks great. The lightsaber duels are kinetic and dazzling. This is only helped further by Annalisa Leoni’s coloring. Her colors pair well with the art style and in particular make the lightsabers and blaster fire leap off the pages.
On the whole, volume 1 of The High Republic makes for an engaging read. Its characters are interesting and its plot propels the world forward. The issue to issue pacing does suffer slightly over decompression, but it doesn’t hamper the reading experience too much. Alongside this, the art works in tandem with the narrative to deliver the story in a visually dynamic fashion. The volume also includes a nice touch of reprinting the fantastic covers by Phil Noto as well as the variant covers. Fans of the High Republic era should not miss out on this next chapter.
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