Published: January 12, 2022
Writer: Daniel Jose Older
Artist: Harvey Tolibao & Pow Rodrix
Colourist: Rebacca Nalty
Letterer: Jake M. Wood
Assistant Editor: Riley Farmer
Editor: Heather Antos
Cover Artist: Harvey Tolibao
The Padawans and their masters rush to Corellia where Nihil inductee Krix Kamarat has been planning his next attack. Lula struggles with her new responsibility while Zeen struggles with Krix’s quick descent into evil; both girls worry for the other but are distracted when they’re split up and hear a mysterious distress signal…
The High Republic Adventures is without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite series that is currently running. The depth that Older goes with these issues provides insights into the force, the High Republic era and Star Wars as a whole that we rarely come across in any form of publication. He doesn’t just manage this once or twice, but seemingly every single issue that he releases. Add the incredible artwork by Tolibao and you have a recipe for the most riveting Star Wars out there. Now I’ve explained just how high the bar is set for this pair, let’s see what this release has for us.
Well, what is there to say really? But Older again does it. The issue takes us to the same format that Older used at the beginning of the series, a story of two halves. Initially it was looking at the relationship between Zeen and Krix, of how their friendship began and how their roads took them on very different paths. After a year of fighting, of growing, of forging new relationships, Older now shows us the comparison between Zeen and Lula. Like Krix and Zeen, these are the closest of friends, even more so. To just compare where these two would be one thing, for Older though this isn’t enough, he has to go further, to delve into the very nature of the force and being a Jedi. Since the Prequel trilogy there has always been discussion as to how a Jedi can love and yet be detached. The only person that we ever really heard on the subject was Anakin Skywalker. Anakin used his teachings to present a skewed version of how he has been taught to love to Padme in Attack of the Clones. Like all people who deceive themselves of the truth, use parts of it to help the deception. Older uses what Anakin explained to us and has worked it backwards to present the definite explanation to how Jedi are supposed to love, to embrace the galaxy around them, while still being devoid of detachment. he does all this through Lula and Zeen.
Lula is really struggling with her emotions for Zeen. She knows it’s a struggle that she is finding it difficult to overcome. We see in a flashback (one that has the much welcome sight of Yoda) where her Master is explaining that Jedi should love and care, but it is their ability to let that go, to not cling to it, that makes a true Jedi. Lula seems to think that this should be so easy and is almost too hard on herself. She knows how she should feel, how she should act but believes it should come easily. Yet she seems to do everything right. She remembers her training and even attempts to ask her master for guidance.
Zeen on the other hand has not had the training that Lula has. All she has are these feelings for Lula that she doesn’t need to deny, that don’t frighten her, and she just accepts them. Without the added pressure of the Jedi training, she is able to act and behave as a Jedi should. She is aware of her feelings, of not wanting Lula to become a knight but ultimately, she seems in far less turmoil than Lula. Of course, Zeen has had to deal with something similar with Krix, trying to help and change him to little effect. She has learnt, through life experience as opposed to Jedi training, of how to let go. The comparison between these two characters, the two different paths is fascinating. It is even reflected in the real world, can studying make up for true experience and vice versa.
The other point that really shone through with this comic was Jedi training as a whole. We see the Jedi in this conflict and The Clone Wars. Why shouldn’t the Jedi be involved, they are supposed to help the galaxy at large. Older answers this here. Lula does the right thing when she is doubting herself by going to her master, but the Nihil attacks prevent her from getting the much sort out guidance that she needs. This isn’t Master Kantam’s fault but the situation. It showcases just what is happening across the galaxy. Jedi who are having doubts, who are worried about this or that, feelings that are perfectly normal, aren’t having the support from their masters and fellow Jedi that they so greatly need. It isolated the padawans, who end up making assumptions about the Jedi and what they need to do, that leaves their training in complete or skewed. We see the same thing in the Prequel films, just when Anakin is needing Obi-Wan most, the Clone Wars distracts him and the rest of the masters. Although the Jedi are effective during wartime, the long-term effects of the order could be catastrophic. Would Lula be able to deal with the situation better if she had the time to talk to her master? Will it mean she makes the wrong decision at a pivotal moment? Only time will tell.
The artwork by Tolibao is outstanding. The pages comparing Lula’s and Zeen’s thoughts instantly bring the first issues back to mind and reminds us just how far these characters have come. But it is the space battle that really made me go wow. Tolibao always adds so much detail to his work that you just get drawn into panels and find that you’ve been looking at something for far longer than you realised. The page spread of the attack force launching is stunning. And the battle itself, the one page it is all confusing on the surface, as a battle should be, but when you focus in on one small zone you can make out the different areas of battle. The galactic datafile of the Nihil Encampment works perfectly to allow readers to visualise all that is happening. Oh, it is simply a pleasure to read and take it all in.
Finally, we return to Krix. He is the character we just wish would change but seems set on his dark path. You can’t help but feel sorry for him. He has had a run of bad luck, bad treatment and sometimes just simply bad timing. No one seems to be on his side, and it just shows how far his and Zeen’s paths have veered off. Zeen is loved by many, more so by Lula, who would sacrifice themselves in a second for her. Yet Krix, determined to stick to the path he is on, is isolated and betrayed by all. How can he possibly trust anyone when all they seem to do is leave? I can’t wait to see how this will get resolved next issue.
The very best stories, take what you know and either twist it on its head or help you understand it so much better, giving you a new appreciation for what is happening. Older does that here, by taking what we know of the Jedi (from a very unreliable source) and explains it in a way that makes perfect sense. It gives us a fuller understanding of the force and how the Jedi teach and behave. I said that Older has set himself a high bar, but in true Older style, he doesn’t just reach that high bar, but he pushes it further and further up. This is what Star Wars has always been, lots of action but some extremely deep spiritual thinking. Older knows how to write this in perfect balance, it’s why this series is just so incredible. Coupled with some of the best art Tolibao has done so far and you have an issue that will resonate with Star Wars fans everywhere. I want to say that Older and Tolibao can’t keep this extremely high quality up but who am I kidding, they’re already planning on how they are going to surpass it…
Star Wars High Republic Adventures is an ongoing series available from IDW Publishing. This issue retails at $3.99 and is available from all good comic bookstores in the USA and from Forbidden Planet in the UK.