After a few issues of getting to focus on one of our characters, as well as further stoking the flames of the conflict between the Jedi and the Nihil, things take a quieter approach with the current issue of IDW‘s Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures, as the Jedi take some time off for fun and games, and political machinations begin within the ranks of the Nihil.
The action this issue is split between two storylines. The first follows the young Jedi Padawans as they get to compete in the Great Jedi Rumble Race, a competition that hasn’t been held in a long while. The race will see any who want to compete taking part in a mad dash through Starlight Beacon, racing to be crowned the winner. There’s only one rule: there are no rules.
This is actually quite a delightful idea, and it’s a lot of fun to see this funny, ridiculous competition unfold across the issue. Over the years fans have seen the Jedi train to master their emotions, to learn to live without attachments, to think of the greater whole and not put themselves first. They’ve been taught that competing to win isn’t the goal in life. So to see those lessons put aside, even for a short while, and see these usually calm and reserved people just having fun is lovely.
We get to see the young characters getting excited over the competition, we see Zeen happy to find out she can compete even though she’s not a Jedi, Ram Jomaram gets to plot how to use his droid to help him win, Quort refuses to use his enhanced speed and agility to win because its more fun to race with his friends, and Master ‘Buckets of Blood’ Buck cheering everyone on and screaming that there are no rules. After a year of seeing these characters being thrown into life-threatening scenarios, dealing with losses, fighting for their lives, its great to see them just acting like kids and finding joy in life.
Sadly, this seems to be in stark contrast to the other story being told this issue. Far from Starlight Beacon, on the planet of Corellia, Krix Kamerat is meeting with allies of the Nihil to further the plans to take over the galaxy. Unfortunately, one of his subordinates, Sabata, seems to dislike the idea of serving under a kid who got put into a position of power due to favouritism rather than experience, and is arranging a plan to get Krix killed.
The difference in these two stories, in the two different paths that Zeen and Krix are walking, have never been more apparent than they are here. Zeen has found a family that loves her, that takes care of her, includes her in their lives even if she’s not one of them, whereas Krix is being barely tolerated, has people out to take him down, and consider him an outsider no matter what he does.
The art on the issue, provided by Harvey Tolibao and Rebecca Nalty, has some really great moments scattered throughout. The scenes where the panels are filled with characters, such as the Jedi meeting up together to take part in the Rumble are fantastic, and you’ll find yourself spending a long time looking through everyone in the room, checking the backgrounds, and trying to pick out all the little details.
Whilst the scenes on Corellia aren’t as busy, they make good use of the space, and there are a lot of pieces of art there that are absolutely packed with background characters and small details. The other place where this issue really excels is in the energy. During the race it really feels like there’s a lot going on, that the characters are rushing around, jumping over each other, and making a mad dash to the finish line.
After a lot of doom and gloom, big action sequences, and some galaxy changing stakes, it’s nice to just take a breather for an issue, to see these characters in their down time. It shows not only how different life is for the different sides, but the kind of simple, wonderful joys that the Jedi are fighting for.
Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #11 is out now from IDW Publishing.