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‘Star Wars: The High Republic #1’ (review)

Written by Cavan Scott
Art by Ario Anindito
Published by Marvel Comics

 

Hmmm…This is going to be a tough one.

Lucasfilm’s first comic book offering of their new publishing initiative, The High Republic is a tale of two cities that doesn’t quite hit its stride. Set 200 years before the events in The Phantom Menace, the story opens with a padawan named Keeve, preparing to take the Jedi trails with her master, a one-armed Trandoshan name SSKEER. They’re interrupted by a swarm of giant insects, where the story transitions to the Star Light Beacon’s dedication.

Based on the information released in the months leading up to the series, the beacon is a big deal. Its design has a strong sentimental meaning and a practical purpose of providing aid to millions who fell victim to The Great Disaster. This horrible event is another big-ticket item hyped up months before the start of the series.

If you don’t know what entails The Great Disaster, well, you’re not going to find out here. You will learn all about the disaster if you read the new novel Light of the Jedi, which was released yesterday.

Interconnected stories spanning various books and comics through several different publishers is a delicate juggling act. However, leaving out core essential story elements in a new series’ first issue is quite disappointing.

Speaking of missing elements, the book’s opening crawl mentions a frightening new adversary that threatens the Force itself.

Again, I know who the bad guys are because of the promotional material.

However, besides an indirect mention of their name, we get nothing. Cavan Scott does a decent job of setting the tone for this new timeline. Regrettably, he doesn’t give the reader much of a reason to get invested in the characters. Keeve is talented, and SSKEER is a grump. Besides that, nothing about their circumstances peels back the curtain on who they are as individuals.

Avar Kriss is another Jedi introduced, and by all accounts, she is a badass, but we’re never told why she holds such distinction among her colleagues. Something interesting happens to Kriss, but it’s hard to care when not much is known about the person in question. Yoda makes a cameo, and he’s referred to as “Grandmaster,” which means the titles of rank are different from those during the Skywalker Saga. Illustrations by Ario Anindito bring about the book’s most distinctive outlook on what makes this era different.

There is a renaissance of enlightenment where peace, prosperity, and inclusion reign throughout the Republic. There is a regal elegance in how everything looks. Clothing, vocabulary, weapons, and structures are products of a more civilized age. While there are no visual standouts in the book, it’s the motif of the world/galaxy that is firmly established.

Sadly, for all of the buildup and anticipation, Cavan Scott’s maiden voyage with the High Republic is a glorified proof of concept that fails to deliver the goods. It’s not good or bad. Honestly, a shoulder shrug emoji is the best way to describe this initial offering.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the current divide of the Star Wars fandom online.

There are two factions with strong opinions on both sides of the fence. One side will probably like this comic book, and the other will hate it.

Rest assured, this review is based entirely on the content within the pages. Interconnecting stories should enhance the reading experience instead of leaving the reader feeling left out. It’s hard to get into a story with an inclusive message that is too elusive.

Grade: C-

 

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