The latest issue of Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures continues to follow our young band of heroes as they head to the planet Takodana to assist with the defence against the Nihil, but also delves into the history of Padawan Qort in the process – and features a very familiar face.
Whilst I’ve really been enjoying this series, one of the places where I think the story has been a little lacking sometimes is in character development. This isn’t a slight against writer Daniel Jose Older in any way, he’s done brilliantly with the series and focusing on certain characters. Rather, it’s been the limitations of a comic series, where there’s only so much room per issue, and you only get the book once a month. This means that readers will often have to wait a while to get to know characters that really intrigue them, especially in an ensemble piece like this. Luckily, I’ve not had to wait too long to get to know Qort, one of the more mysterious members of the team.
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Despite being there from the beginning we don’t really know much about this young Jedi. We’ve never seen his real face beneath the skull like mask he wears, and he doesn’t speak Basic, meaning that we’re often left wondering what he’s been saying. Whilst this issue doesn’t reveal his words, or his face, it does explain where he comes from through a series of flashbacks scattered throughout the issue.
These flashbacks were a genuine joy, not just because we got to see a baby Qort being a little terror, but because the person who took him in and took care of him is none other than Maz Kanata, the diminutive pirate queen from the sequel trilogy. Considering this story is taking place on the Takodana, and that the Jedi temple they’ve come to defend is located on the same lake as her castle, I was expecting the character to make an appearance at some point; but to use her in this way, to tie her in so directly with one of our core cast of characters was a genius move.
Because of this we not only got to learn more about Qort, including an explanation of where he comes from and why he wears that mask, but we also get to see a bit more of Maz and get to see the kind of decent and caring person she is. Some of this is also shown in Sav too, and how she clearly has a deep caring for Qort. We don’t get much of their connection or past explained in this issue, but you can tell that the two of them go a long way back, and it really helps to flesh out her personality after her brief but amazing first appearance last issue.
The rest of the issue sees the various members of the group preparing the Jedi temple in case the Nihil return, and it moves the plot forward without overshadowing the much more interesting character story that’s going on throughout. Come the end of the issue not only have things been set up nicely for further confrontations to come, but now we also care a bit more about the people who are going to be caught up in it too, which certainly raises the stakes.
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As with the previous issue, the art is provided by Toni Bruno and Rebecca Nalty, who do a good job at making Takodana feel big and bright, and a place of beauty. They also make the characters look engaging, especially Sav and Maz, whose aged and wrinkled faces seem to convey their emotions and thoughts wonderfully. The scenes where a baby Qort is causing chaos in Maz’s castle are also a lot of fun, especially how they always frame things in a way where we’ve still not seen Qort’s face.
But that mystery might be getting solved a lot quicker than we think, as the teaser image for the next issue shows Qort standing without his mask, face cast in shadows, as he crushes the mask in his hands. Knowing what we do now about the mask and his species, and with the promise that we’ll get to see what’s underneath, it leads to a very exciting next issue; one that I’m very much looking forward to.
Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #9 is out now from IDW Publishing.