After a slower, more character focused issue last month things begin to get a little more exciting in the latest entry in Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures as the Jedi and the Nihil clash in battle.
Having been separated by the conflict that’s brewing in the Outer Rim, childhood friends Krix Kamerat and Zeen Mrala find themselves on opposing sides. Krix has been taken in by the Nihil, a band of predatory nihilists who have made it their mission to sow chaos and suffering cross the galaxy, whilst Zeen, who has kept her latent Force powers a secret from her friend, has been rescued by the Jedi. With the two sides finally coming into conflict again, it seems like the two kids will be forced to make some important choices.
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On the junk moon of Quantxi, Marchion Ro, the leader of the Nihil, has ordered Krix to send a message to Zeen in order to lure her and the Jedi into a trap. Meanwhile, the Jedi masters have engaged a Nihil fleet in combat above the planet Ord Mantell. We get to see some of the Jedi star-ships of this era for the first time in Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures, such as the Jedi Vectors, and it’s really cool to see these unique looking ships in action, as well as the piloting skills of the older Jedi.
The action isn’t just relegated to space battles though, as Krix is put into a position where he has to chase down an escaping prisoner, ordered to shoot them if necessary. These scenes make for some tense moments, and not just because this escapee could interfere with the Nihil’s plans, but because it’s forcing Krix into a position where he’s walking further down a dark path. Last issue he betrayed the trust of someone, and it led to their death, but now he’s being told to directly take a life. It’s an incredibly dark and morally weighty moment in a series more aimed at younger readers, and I loved it.
The events of the book are definitely moving the pieces into place for what’s sure to be an emotional and dramatic confrontation next issue as Zeen and Krix come closer and closer to reuniting, and their loyalties to each other will be put to the test. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this series when it first began, but it’s definitely pushing the boundaries of ‘children’s’ entertainment and telling some stories with very adult themes and powerful consequences, and because of this it’s beginning to remind me of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels more than it does the regular Star Wars Adventures series.
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The artwork, provided by Harvey Tolibao and Rebecca Nalty, is superb, and the level of attention given over to the small details is really good, and they make the junk moon in particular feel very alive and lived in, with some awesomely composed panels. The space battle is also a stand out moment, particularly with the gorgeous double page splash of the two sides clashing. They even throw in a small interlude page where we get to see some of the cool lightsaber designs for the High Republic characters, where they show some of the inner workings of these iconic weapons.
Overall the quality of the series has only been improving, but this issue is undoubtedly the best so far. It packs in action, story development, and some genuinely engaging character moments, and it’s all just build-up to what’s coming next. Even though this is a series designed for the younger reader, every Star Wars fan should be giving it a read.
Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #4 is out now from IDW Publishing.