The first volume of Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures was a series that I really enjoyed. The conflict between the Jedi and the Nihil was clear and easy to understand, the cast of characters were interesting and engaging, and the story was pretty easy to get along with. In comparison, this new volume, set within the second phase of The High Republic, feels like it’s struggling with each of these things.
This volume has shifted the focus away from galaxy-spanning threats, and multiple Jedi protagonists, to instead focus on a smaller group of people dealing with an issue with much smaller odds. We’ve been following Jedi padawan Sav Malagan as she sweet-talks her way onto the crew of the infamous pirate queen Maz Kanata, as she and her crew deal with a gang of criminals who have stolen their ship. In this issue the team catch up to the bad guys, who have headed to a shipyard to try and get hold of some ships that can cause some damage.
Perhaps the two biggest issues for me when I read this series are that the story doesn’t really feel like it has a clear direction, and that none of the characters feel particularly fleshed out. The first might be something that is eventually dealt with over time, but so far the story feels kind of aimless, like the characters are just spinning their wheels. Is the story just going to be one gang chasing another issue after issue, with the occasional action set-piece along the way to keep it interesting? If so, I can’t really see the appeal in that. It really feels like it needs more than that in order to keep itself interesting; some kind of over-arching narrative that means something, and so far that hasn’t been present at all.
You’d think that with no big story to deal with, and most of the last three issues being one group in a ship chasing after another group in a ship it would at least mean that we’d have time to get to know that group. But that doesn’t really seem to be the case. Maz’s crew all have cool designs, and we’ve been given a small taste as to what their personalities and backgrounds are (though some are still very blank slates), but none of them have been expanded upon in any real way. I couldn’t tell you the defining feature of each of them; I don’t know what they’d do in a given situation; I don’t know what their goals and drives are. They’re a group with weird and interesting designs that make them stand out, but that’s it, they don’t really feel like characters yet, which is a huge shame.
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As with previous issues, this one moves either at a snail’s pace, or incredibly fast, and there are moments where not a huge amount really happens, followed by a second half of the book that really crams things in. The result is a book that kind of drags for the first several pages, barely keeping you engaged, whilst the latter half tries to do everything and wants to up the excitement, but it’s such a tonal whiplash with the first half that it’s hard to really feel engaged by that point.
I really wanted to like this series. The first volume is one of my favourite Star Wars comics, and I adored the characters that it introduced, but this series has failed to grab me in the same way. Even with the easy start of already having a character like Sav (who is fantastic in the future) the series isn’t really doing anything new, interesting, or engaging. I really hope that this is just an anomaly, a rocky start for the series, and that it doesn’t continue on like this for much longer.
Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #3 is out now from Dark Horse.