The High Republic era has dealt with a number of threats since it began, with fights between the Jedi and the Hutts, and the monstrous plant-like Drengir, but the main antagonists have remained the Nihil, the roving band of space bandits. Whilst IDW‘s Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures has focused on this threat a lot of the time, rather than being grand in scope it’s taken the much more personal approach, showing the conflict through the eyes of two childhood friends on either side of the conflict. And now, that conflict comes to a head as these two friends are forced to clash once again.
The issue begins with the Jedi making plans to track-down and combat the Nihil before they’re able to launch another assault on an unsuspecting world. They’ve called in a lot of people to help with this, and are having to split their forces into different groups to do so; and one of these groups is going to be led by the Jedi padawan Lula Talisola. This news comes as something of a surprise to her, as she’s still a student, but it’s a sign of how far she’s come, how much respect she commands from her teachers, and how close she is to becoming a Jedi Knight herself.
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Unfortunately, this new development puts Lula into a strange state of mind, as she contemplates her changing role in the Jedi order and what it means for her relationship to Zeen Mrala. Zeen’s been around since the first issue, and has come to live and work with the young Jedi, forming bonds with the group. But Zeen isn’t a Jedi herself, despite her force abilities. Being too old to be trained as a Jedi, she’s essentially a tag-along, though one they all care about. But both she and Lula understand that Jedi aren’t supposed to have strong attachments, and that their connection might not be able to continue on.
There’s no real explanation as to why these feelings have come to a head recently, as the two of them have been close friends throughout and there have been no issues, but connecting it to Lula being closer to graduating from Padawan to Knight makes sense, as it’s causing her to question a lot of things. One of the things that stood out about the way she and Zeen talk about this connection in the narration, however, was how they talk about love more than anything else. Whilst friends can and do love each other, and more people should acknowledge that non-romantic love is a thing, there were moments here where it felt a little more than that, and that Zeen and Lula could have a romantic relationship forming. If that’s the case, it’s definitely something I want to see explored more in later issues, especially as the other times we’ve seen Jedi form romantic relationships with non-Jedi it’s never ended well.
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Outside of these character moments the issue manages to pack in a decent amount of action as the two sides come into conflict with each other. The action is fast paced and dynamic as always, and there are a few times when I was genuinely unsure whether the heroes were going to make it or not, as Daniel Jose Older managed to make the issue feel really tense in places.
Art on the issue is provided by Harvey Tolibao, Pow Rodrix, and Rebecca Nalty, who have worked on the series before. I really like a lot of the art on this issue, and the action scenes work very well. When things are blowing up they feel like more than just fireballs, with debris and detritus flying around and making it feel like something substantial has happened, and there are some really nicely framed panels where what could have been a pretty flat moment ends up coming across as dynamic.
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My only complaint about the art is that there are a few times where the characters don’t seem to track from scene to scene with how old they look. There are moments when Zeen and Lula look to be in their very early teens, barely more than children, whilst others they look like young adults. This has always been something that seems to change across the series depending on who’s drawing it, but this felt like the first time it happened inside the same comic.
Overall this proved to be an exciting new chapter in the High Republic saga, one that begins to raise the stakes on a more personal level. It’s beginning to seem like the conflict between the Nihil and Jedi might be coming to a close in some ways, or at least for this handful of characters, but now it seems like they’re going to be facing some personal trials.
Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #12 is out now from IDW Publishing.