The Star Wars franchise is well known for its space battles, gunfights, and light sabre duels; it’s got Wars in the name for a reason. But sometimes it’s the quieter moments in the franchise that can really stand out. Whether it’s watching Boba Fett become part of a tribe of Tuskens in The Book of Boba Fett, or watching Omega bond with her siblings in The Bad Batch, the moments that aren’t about fighting and conflict can be some of the ones that not only bring a lot of joy, but shows people what’s worth fighting for in this universe. Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures: Galactic Bake-Off Spectacular is the second time we’ve got to see the Jedi of the High Republic take a break from all of the terrible things that are going on, and it’s a delight.
The last time we saw our heroes having some fun was in issue eleven, where the teens took part in the Great Jedi Rumble Race, a competition where they dashed through the halls of the Starlight Beacon having fun and competing against each other. This issue, which seems to take place slightly before those events, sees our characters having fun in a very different way.
The issue begins with Master ‘Buckets of Blood’ Buck announcing that it’s the ‘Great Jedi Baking Day of Baking Baked Things’ as he and several others burst their way into the kitchens of the Starlight Beacon. I swear, this man can’t do anything subtly and I absolutely love it. He’s like a big blue Brian Blessed Jedi. Buck has gathered together some of the other Jedi, and a handful of Padawans, to help him to make Yoda’s recipe for Special Baked Sweet Story Custard Cakes. The cakes, which everyone is desperate to get, has a special ingredient though: you have to tell a story about cooperation whilst making them.
This leads to Buck and Kantam telling the young students a story about how the two of them had to come together and cooperate in order to make it out of the Great Disaster alive. From here the book jumps backwards and forwards between the Great Disaster and the Jedi making their sweet treats, with more and more people arriving to help and listen to the story each time we cut back to the Starlight Beacon.
The issue is written by series regular writer Daniel Jose Older, but he’s also been joined by Vita Ayala, who has been doing some fantastic work writing Nubia and the Amazons over at DC Comics. As the story is skipping between two different times I wasn’t sure if Older and Ayala would be taking one section each, or sharing the writing across all parts, and after reading it I really can’t tell. The two of them write really well together, and this is very much a comic where the creative team seem to be on the same page and crafting a great story together. With how good Ayala’s work has been on other titles I hope that we get to see more of them in future Star Wars titles, as their character work and attention to important themes and narratives fits perfectly in this universe.
Whilst the writing is pretty seamless, there are two very distinct art styles on this issue, with two different teams working on the two time periods. Toni Bruno, who has worked on the High Republic books in the past, provides the artwork for the sections that deal with the Great Disaster. Bruno’s art style uses thick lines, and messy edges to give a more gritty, lived in feel, and this works really well for a flashback to a time where everything is falling apart and breaking around our heroes, and their lives are in danger. Jo Geyong, in contrast, has a very light art style, with thin, neat lines, and lighter, brighter colours decorating their pages.
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The result is that not only are the two times visually distinct, but that they build upon the feelings the authors are trying to get across. The Great Disaster is a dangerous, awful time, so it is darker, moodier, and messier in places to help convey this without even needing the words; in contrast, things are bright and airy when the Jedi are all gathered together making food. It’s a happier time where nothing bad is happening, and the artwork not only reflects that, but makes you feel it.
Whilst not a huge amount happens in this issue to move the story forwards it’s not really about that. This issue is about taking a breather, and showing our heroes in a happier time, one where they can relax and feel some joy. But, we do also get to learn more about Buck and Kantam, and where they were during the Great Disaster too, so it does fill in some blanks for us. We also get an actual recipe in the back to make Yoda’s cakes too, and I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely going to be making those at some point.
Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures: Galactic Bake-Off Spectacular is out now from IDW Publishing.