It will soon be a year since Lucasfilm introduced the new Star Wars era they were planning to explore: The High Republic. Since then a couple of novels, including junior novels, and comics have been published.
So what is the High Republic like so far? For a light taste without the need to delve very deep, the couple of comics published thus far can be a decent enough indicator to begin with.
Adventures of the Jedi of Old
Two main comic series are currently being published: “The High Republic” and “The High Republic Adventures”. Both come out monthly, “The High Republic” began publishing in January 2021 with four volumes expected in total and “Adventures” in February with five volumes expected.
Both are centred around the same events that lie in the core of the novels so far published: the building of the Starlight Beacon in the Outer Rim and the sudden attacks of the Nihil at the fringe worlds. In broad terms, the setting is the fringe of civilisation. While the Republic is literally basking in light with all the advantages a civilisation has, the Jedi bring their light to defend those who are isolated in the darkness of the Outer Rim, left to the whims of raiders and natural disasters.
It’s All About The Characters
In particular, however, it is the individual Jedi who are at the centre of the stories. “The High Republic Adventures” kicks off with drawing a parallel between two main characters. On the one hand, there is the archetypal young Padawan on her first mission who is struggling with meeting her own standards, on the other hand, there is a native girl who has a perfect attunement to the Force but no formal training, and this is her first time meeting the Jedi.
“The High Republic”, too, kicks off with showing a young Padawan, but one that is just about to pass her trials to be knighted. There is a lot about her relationship with her Trandoshan Master. The series follows Keeve Trennis’s journey through her knighting and investigation of the activities of the Nihil in deep space. What is unique about the story is that it is Master Sskeer who struggles with demons from his past while his former Padawan is the one who remains calm and collected.
With only a few issues published thus far, it is hard to make a judgment. But one could say that while “Adventures” indeed seems like going in the direction of “two young girls, similar but different, are thrown in the middle of an adventure and are discovering their own paths”, “The High Republic” shows a young Knight (alongside many other characters) who takes on herself the responsibility and care not only for herself, the mission, but also her Master’s wellbeing.
Both stories have many interesting elements and, in visually pretty form, offer a rather suspenseful narrative. “The High Republic” is perhaps a tiny bit more psychological and darker. But both manage to convey really well the atmosphere of this new setting. The Jedi really are the heroes, they are different from the somewhat chaotic and clueless Jedi of the prequels who served a somewhat dubious ideology. The High Republic Jedi are also not colonizers, they really bring light among the people who live in the vast, dark outer reaches of the Galaxy with no way to defend themselves.
But the heroes are by no means flawless superheroes. Even from the few pages, one can see that they have their inner struggles and uncertainties and they have to face difficult dilemmas. But they are all good people.
I approached the comics with the intention to see whether the High Republic setting itself was “worth it”. With zero expectations I was pleasantly surprised. There is certainly potential that the writers have started to unravel from the get-go. I would recommend everyone interested in dipping their feet in something new in the Star Wars world to test the High Republic in the same way and find out for themselves.