Masks and helmets are a big part of the Star Wars universe. Whether it’s one of the dozens of types of stormtroopers, Sith Lords, or pirate raiders, it seems like half the characters in the Star Wars universe hide away their features. As such, building up a character around their mask, adding a sense of mystery to them and giving them a unique look, then deciding to take that away is a brave move. This issue sees the destruction of the skull mask that Jedi Padawan Quort has worn since his introduction, and considering the removal of this mask could change how people look at this character completely, it’s kind of a bold decision.
At the end of the previous issue, the Jedi temple on Takodana came under attack from Nihil ships, whilst a bomb was detonated within the temple itself, reducing it to rubble. Whilst our heroes seemed to weather that destruction, left with only minor injuries, it did result in Quort’s mask being destroyed. The previous issue had told us the importance of that mask, how for his people it was something sacred and special to them, how it was to help the young grow and become an adult; and this issue reminds readers how important it is right at the start with a flashback to a young Quort being told that when the time is right he’ll choose to take the mask off. But now that choice has been removed from him, his agency has been taken away.
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We also know that the mask helps with anger and violent tendencies, so its sudden loss adds a new worry: will it result in Quort losing control and veering dangerously close to the Dark Side? Thankfully, this seems to be a misplaced worry, and if anything the loss of the mask had Quort finally standing up and believing in himself, acting with a bravery and confidence that he’s not had this entire series. I really liked this change, I liked to see him realising that the time had come for him to grow up, and how it gave him a new sense of self.
The design for Quort was really good too. We’d been given small hints at what he might look like over the course of the series; a glimpse of blue skin, and his white hair, but there were still big questions around if he’d look fairly human, or if he’d be truly alien. What we got was a nice mixture of recognisably human, but with elements like his ears that had an animal, almost feline look to them. Without his mask he has a sense of grace and smoothness to him that he didn’t before; he’s less bulky and lumpy, and I think that his confidence and his abilities are only going to continue to grow from this point.
Elsewhere in the issue we got further development on the Nihil story, and saw that Krix seems pretty settled into his position as a leader within the group. The more we see of him and his story the more it seems like he’s being pushed towards a point where it will be impossible for him to ever really come back from this dark path that he’s on; though redemption is a big theme in Star Wars, so that possibility is never really off the table.
The art in this issue is provided by Toni Bruno and Rebecca Nalty, who have worked together on the previous issues in this art. Their styles work well together, and they have produced some of my favourite work on Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures so far, delivering a simple look that still manages to appear detailed and neat. They also don’t make the younger characters look too young, which I really like. At the start of the series many of the Padawans looked to be close to ten years of age, whereas now they’re looking like they’re in their mid-teens, which definitely suits it much better.
This story arc has been a lot of fun, and it feels like Quort has come on leaps and bounds and has firmly established himself as one of my favourites in the entire High Republic. And this issue absolutely flew by for me, I had to double check it was the regular length because it felt like it was a very quick read; but I think that just shows that I had a blast with it. I’m looking forward to seeing more great stories with Quort in the future.
Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #10 is out now from IDW Publishing.