Published: July 21, 2021
Writer: Daniel Jose Older
Artists: Harvey Tolibao and Pow Rodrix
Colours: Rebecca Nalty
Letterer: Jake M. Wood
Cover Artist: Harvey Tolibao
As the galaxy prepares for its Republic Fair, Qort and Farzala leave their Padawan friends to join in on the effort to fight against the fearsome Drengir, in this first issue of a two-part adventure!
Quality. If there is one word that can sum it The High Republic series, it is quality. A quality story, with quality writers and quality artists, all working together to create something that is magical. This can be seen so clearly in the High Republic Adventures series. It has just finished its first story arc and has to be one of the strongest introductions that I have read. I’m very excited to see where Older, who really understands how to craft a Star Wars story, goes next with this two-part story. On mentioning Older, this man seems to be one of the busiest in Star Wars at the moment. In the latest Star Wars Adventures, he has written an incredible short tale set in this era which is really a prequel to this series. His first High Republic book is also out, which I’m eagerly waiting to begin having just finished Cavan Scott’s The Rising Storm. On this note, I just want to mention that this story is taking place before this second wave of books, so if you haven’t yet caught up, don’t worry, but make sure you have read Into the Dark by Claudia Gray. So, let’s find out what Older has for us this month…
The opening page of this issue is simply astounding. Your opening, particularly of a new arc, has to grip the reader and hook them for the rest of the story. This is perhaps my favourite opening I have yet read. Older opens up with a Jedi superstar, Master Tap Bota, a legend amongst the Jedi padawans, someone they listen to stories about and can look up to. Delving into the histories of the Jedi is incredible and coupled with the amazing artwork of Tolibao, who crams in so much in a single page, and you have every reader hanging on your every word. It is perhaps the only positivity for our heroes before Older brings reality crashing down on them.
How to make an already great series even better? You follow the tempo of the original films but in a new and exciting way. In the first arc to this series, Older gave us Luke and Leia type characters but changed key parts to suit the story. Older did this masterfully, providing an engaging and original story that still felt like Star Wars through and through. For this two-part arc, he does the same again, he follows the example of The Empire Strikes Back and gives us a far darker story. What ended on quite a high point is very quickly brought down for our padawans, Farzala and Qort. This is not the only beat that Older uses from episode five. Much like Luke has to mature during the course of the film, to realise his responsibility, so does Farzala. Older is able to shift responsibility for the mission (I’ll come to this later) to the padawans who have to stand up and accept that this is their job, that even though they aren’t really ready, they need to accept that they need to do this. This is just like Luke, who has to come to the realisation that he has to bring down Vader and the Emperor, that he has to accept his role in the galaxy. In essence, it’s a coming-of-age story, of growing up and realising how the real-world works. I love how Older continually does this, following beats of the original movies but manipulating them to tell his story. It’s for this reason that I think his writing feels so much like Star Wars.
This story doesn’t just feel like the next part of the High Republic Adventures but also the sequel to Into the Dark. We get to see the return of some of the main characters from the book: Affie, Gyasi and my personal favourite, Geode. Of course, they are on the ship The Vessel and it’s great to see these as visual representations in the pages of a comic. Older writes these characters perfectly, you wouldn’t know there was a shift in writers. The voices of these characters always ring true. And Geode? Oh he is still his absolute wonderful self. Older uses him to bring in the humour in the story as well as him make a new friend. I won’t say too much as I don’t want to spoil anything, but it is a match made in heaven. The weaving between all the different characters in The High Republic series is wonderful. It must take a considerable amount of effort for all the authors involved to try and make this work but work it does. If you are a fan keeping up with all the works coming out, it’s this sort of thing that really pays off.
It’s not just the heroes who make a return. We get to see interactions with the Hutts, who in the Marvel series of The High Republic are now creating shockwaves. What I liked most was the introduction of the Drengir. When Claudia Grey’s book was released, it was a pleasant surprise to find that the enemy wasn’t the Nihil but something else entirely. Having two enemies for the authors to utilise allows for more opportunities and stories that always feel different. Older moves away from the Nihil, who have been the main focus in the previous arc, to introduce this new enemy. It feels right to have the break, as I’m sure when we get back to the other characters of the series, the focus will once again be on the Nihil. Not only that, but the data file this month is almost a summing up of events in the galaxy surrounding the Drengir and the Hutts. It looks fantastic, particularly when seeing things mentioned from Into the Dark.
Tolibao has been a tremendous job in this series and this issue is no different. As mentioned, the first page alone is mouthwatering. Filled with detail upon detail that just draws the eyes in. The further you go into the comic; the more detail seems to try and escape from every single panel. Tolibao always seems to try and do at least one big panel or page spread, as he does in this issue, and every time it really makes you sit up and take note.
The vision for Adventures was always something aimed for young people. I’ve stated this many times that this is something for all ages, that the quality, the feel of it just cannot be ignored by Star Wars fans. Even so, the main characters are the padawans, to allow the main target audience to relate to them. It is so easy to put these types of characters into peril for no good reason, with no sensible explanation to how they got there. Throughout this entire series, Older never treats his readers like fools, there has to be some reason these padawans are in over their heads. In this issue, the absence of their master is very original and works very well as the reason to why these prawns are in a predicament. In terms of character development, I think this reasoning is important for Farzala. As mentioned, Farzala is following a very simile path to Luke. Here, he doesn’t have a choice of what to do, it is a necessity because of Master Obratuk being unavailable. The weight of that decision is already felt in this issue, where he has to stand by his principles, even if he’d rather not. This is just like Luke, who doesn’t choose to be the hero to stand against Vader and the Emperor but has to do it out of necessity and because others tell him to. His pushed in a certain direction, just as it seems Farzala is too. The difference, whereas Luke has to battle with what he wants to do and what he is being told to do, Farzala keeps to his principles throughout. It shows why Jedi training is so important (and why Yoda didn’t want Luke to leave for Dagobah).
It was hard to know where Older would go with this next arc, he goes in a completely unexpected but very welcome direction. Here we see characters from not only this individual series but The High Republic series as a whole return. As a huge fan of Gray’s Into The Dark, it is so wonderful to see characters from this book show up and true to form. Older starts bringing these threads together in a very dark, captivating story. Never one to forget his roots, Older uses the original trilogy to hit the same themes, to follow the same beats. So, although this is an original story, there is that Star Wars feel running through it continually. This series really shows what you can achieve when your focus audience is the same as the original trilogy, it won’t just capture them, but fans of all ages as well. An incredible start to a new two parter, but when the writing and artwork is this good, I just wish I didn’t have to wait a month for the next.
Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures is an ongoing series available from IDW Publishing. This issue is available from all good comic bookstores in the USA and from Forbidden Planet in the UK. This issue retails at $3.99.