Star Wars: The High Republic is the latest hyped event from Kathleen Kennedy and her group of writers. The High Republic was supposed to be THE big Star Wars event at Lucasfilm until John Favreau and Dave Filoni absolutely broke the Internet with the return of Luke Skywalker over in The Mandalorian. The Mandalorian has quickly become THE center of the Star Wars universe and the hottest Star Wars property. Favreau and Filoni have managed to unite the Star Wars fandom and deliver the first Disney Star Wars content that is not marred with controversy and criticism. So, the High Republic is facing some serious headwind. Will the High Republic offer more popular and creative content like The Mandalorian? Or are we going to get more of the typical Kathleen Kennedy Star Wars content as we did with the Disney sequel trilogy? Let’s hit this review and find out!
Words: Cavan Scott
Pencils: Ario Anindito
Inks: Mark Morales
Colors: Annalisa Leoni
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a Star Wars timeline. The High Republic takes place 200 years before the events of the Star Wars Prequel movies. We get a one-page crawl that says the Republic is about to launch the Starlight Beacon into the far reaches of the Outer Rim. However, there is a frightening new adversary that is a threat to the Jedi, the galaxy, and the Force.
We begin on Shuraden in the Republic frontier. We see a Padawan named Keeve Trennis. She is sour and grumpy and scowls her way through the scene. A Ximpi is flying next to her. The Ximpi is constantly talking and asking Keeve question after question. Keeve reacts in an unpleasant and annoyed manner. Keeve tells the Ximpi to leave right now.
Suddenly, Keeve’s Jedi Master Sskeer jumps out of nowhere and attacks Keeve. Keeve easily takes down her own Jedi Master in just one page. (Wow. Maybe Sskeer should be the Padawan. Even the most powerful Jedi in Anakin struggled against his fight against his master in Obi-Wan Kenobi.)
Keeve says that she is sorry she chopped down a tree during their fight. Sskeer says that Keeve is not sorry. Keeve egress that she is not sorry. (Yeah..not being sorry about pointless destruction…that’s not an endearing quality in a hero. Keeve is a jerk so far. Maybe Scott is setting up Keeve to going to the Dark Side and becoming a Sith?)
Keeve complains that they should not be on this planet while Sskeeve recuperates from his accident. That Keeve should be training for her trials. Sskaar tells Keeve that she needs to watch her language if she expects to be knighted. (Yeah. Keeve has to be being set up for a heel turn to the Dark Side.)
Sskeer then shows Keeve giant stone needle structures called “The Needles.” (Creative.) Sskeer says that he hung a Tythonian Pendant at the top of one of the Needles. Sskeer says that the Needles have stood for millennia and no none has ever climbed them.
Sskeer asks if Keeve is afraid. Keeve says that there is no fear, only certainty. We cut to Keeve trying to climb one of the Needles while the Ximpi flies next to her asking her all sorts of pointless questions. Another Ximpi flies over and joins them. Suddenly, a bunch of giant red bug creatures bust onto the scene and destroy the Needles.
We shift to the Starlight Beacon. Maru, the Jedi Seeker, is trying to find Sskeer. Master Avar Kriss appears and asks Maru is he has found Sskeer, yet. Maru says that he has not. Kriss mentions that Sskeer lost his arm in a battle, but because Sskeer is a Trandoshan that his arm will grow back. Kriss says that Sskeer is hiding his presence from them for some reason.
Grandmasters Veter and Yoda then enter the room. Veter says that the Jedi Council has appointed Kriss as the Marshal of the Starlight Beacon.
We hop back to the giant red bugs attacking Keeve. One of the Ximpi’s asks Keeve to save the other Ximpi. Keeve says that she cannot and that they have other problems. (Suck it, you stupid little Ximpi! Keeve doesn’t have time for your puny problems!) We see the giant bugs flying to the city.
Keeve decides to not go after the pendant and instead head to the city. Keeve hops in a spaceship and flies after the giant bugs. Keeve arrives at the city and hops out of her ship. Keeve realizes that they need to know where the bugs came from. Keeve contacts the Starlight Beacon and says that a swarm of giant insects is ravaging Shuraden.
Maru uses the Starlight’s computer system to analyze the bugs. Maru says that the bugs are Ritadi, a species of star-locusts. But, they usually avoid inhabited worlds. Maru asks Keeve if she has asked the bugs what has changed?
Keeve uses the Force and reaches out to the bugs to see if she can understand why they are attacking an inhabited world. (Can Jedi’s now read creature’s minds and see their memories? Or is Keeve just the most powerful Jedi ever?)
Keeve hops into her ship and says that the pulse of the Starlight Beacon’s signal is drawing the Ridadi off course. Keeve rigs her ship to replicate the Starlight Beacon’s signal in order to draw the Ridadi away from Shuraden.
Keeve then points her space ship off into space and then ejects herself from the ship. The ship’s auto-pilot takes it off into the atmosphere with the Ridadi following it.
Sskeer then arrives on the scene and asks where his ship is. Keeve says that Sskeer’s ship is off in the atmosphere with the Ridadi chasing it. Sskeer contacts the Starlight and requests immediate transportation.
We cut to Sskeer and Keeve arriving on the Starlight. Keeve continues to apologize for not finishing her trial in retrieving the pendant and instead of rescuing the Ximpi city. Sskeer ignores her as they walk to a room in the Starlight. IN that room is Avar Kriss. Keeve stammers about how amazing Kriss. Keeve apologizes for not finishing her trial, but that the Ximpi were in danger. Kriss asks if Keeve is done. Keeve then fires up a lightsaber and cuts off Keeve’s Padawan rat tail. Kriss proclaims that Keeve is now a Jedi Knight.
We zip to later that day at the Dedication Ceremony aboard the Starlight. Kriss tells the assembled Jedi that the Starlight Beacon is a symbol of hope, unity, and trust. Kriss says that this is the Jedi’s covenant. For light and life. Keeve thinks how all of what happened on Shuraden was a test that Sskeer planned through the Force. And it was a test that Keeve passed.
We shift to Sskeer entering his quarters. Sskeer suddenly yells out, “NOOOOO!!.” Sskeer grabs his face and says, “No.” (Ummm…okay.) End of issue.
The Good: Star Wars: The High Republic #1 was a big heaping helping of oatmeal. And not even one of those flavored packets of oatmeal. Just bland old school oatmeal with no sugar or anything. You know you were never excited when your mom gave you a bowl of this before school. Star Wars: The High Republic #1 is not offensive. Instead, it commits an even bigger sin. This issue is just dull and boring.
Having said that, we follow the Revolution’s Rule of Positivity when reviewing comics so let us see what is enjoyable about Star Wars: The High Republic #1. Well, we got to see Yoda! That was cool. And even better, Scott did not have Yoda get embarrassed or completely cucked by a new Lucasfilm character, so that was also cool!
The space-locusts are actually a neat concept. It does not make for a particularly compelling or interesting villain, but it is a cool idea.
I also found the Ximpi to be cute without being horribly annoying. Are the Ximpi “kiddie” characters? Sure. But, Star Wars: The High Republic #1 is obviously aiming for more of a kiddie audience. So, I think Scott threaded the needle with the Ximpi in making them culture for a younger audience without making them unbearably annoying for an older audience. And by older I mean anyone older than 14 years old.
And speaking of younger readers, Star Wars: The High Republic #1 is kiddie-friendly. There is nothing mature about this issue. The “action” scenes lack any real violence at all. This is a comic book that could be given to a six-year-old child with zero hesitation.
Lastly, the story is well-paced. This is not a decompressed issue where the writer wastes time navel-gazing. Star Wars: The High Republic #1 does offer the reader a condensed self-contained story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
The artwork on Star Wars: The High Republic #1 is not that great. Having said that, I did like the character designs for both Sskeer and Maru. Both Jedis looked cool. Sskeer in particular has a badass and physically imposing look that creates a nice juxtaposition with the peaceful nature of the Jedi.
The Bad: Star Wars: The High Republic #1 is an unimpressive read. This issue is exactly what we have come to expect from Lucasfilm under Disney’s ownership. The story is crushingly boring with a series of dull scenes strung together by generic dialogue being delivered by bland characters.
The entire premise of the Starship Beacon being sent out into the Outer Rim as an emissary from the Republic to meet new and different worlds makes Star Wars: The High Republic #1 read more like a Star Trek title than a Star Wars title. The Starship Beacon feels too much like the Enterprise and the Republic is like the United Federation of Planets. Unlike how the combination of peanut butter and chocolate may delight me in a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup, the idea of Star Trek mixed with my Star Wars is completely unappealing in every possible manner.
Star Wars shines the most when it operates as a western/fantasy mash-up with the trappings of science fiction that focuses more on strong characters than high concept Sci-Fi that focuses on large organizations. It is worrisome that in just the debut issue that it seems that Scott has already lost the plot of what makes a compelling and proper Star Wars story.
Scott also showed a lack of familiarity with the details of the Star Wars universe. An example of this was when Keeve stuck her lightsaber into one of the rock needles to stop her fall. Keeve just hung in the air. This would work if she was using a sword. But, a lightsaber is just going to keep cutting the stone needle and she would continue to descend. To his credit, Scott did own this mistake on Twitter. But, still, this just throws more fuel on the fire of the constant criticism of Disney’s Lucasfilm writer group under Kennedy. This group continues to display a lack of true knowledge of the Star Wars universe or a passion for anything Star Wars prior to Disney owning the franchise.
The story itself is rather unimpressive in Star Wars: The High Republic #1. Unfortunately, Scott delivers a story that is painfully shallow. There is no depth or substance to this issue. Everything is on the surface. All of the conflicts are handled in a cursory and convenient manner. The story lacks any detail at all. Star Wars: The High Republic #1 is not an immersive experience at all. The reader never feels pulled into the story. Scott does not pull off any world-building at all. The setting for the High Republic feels as real and substantive as a cheap stage set for a high school play. This is a real shame since I have always found Star Wars to be a highly immersive experience.
Star Wars: The High Republic #1 is poorly plotted. Scott fails to do any of the necessary tasks of a debut issue of a new title. Scott installs just a single plotline in the Starship Beacon and its five-year journey, I mean, its mission to go into the Outer Rim. That is it. It is vital that debut issues of a new title install multiple plot-lines. Usually, the writer needs to install a small immediate plot-line, the main plot-line for the opening story arc, and then at least one long-term plot-line. Scott does absolutely none of this.
Also, it is critical that the author installs the villain for the opening story arc. Who is the villain that vaguely referred to in the opening crawl of Star Wars: The High Republic #1? Who knows? Scott never introduces any evil force or villain for this opening story arc.
Scott also swings and misses in an attempt to deliver a quality hook ending. All we get is a vague scene of Sskeer yelling “NOOOO!” for literally no reason. There is no compelling reason for the reader to come back for more.
While we did get some action scenes in Star Wars: The High Republic #1 they were nothing that interesting at all. The action scenes completely lacked drama. The “fight” between Keeve and Sskeer lasted a single page and Sskeer went down like a jobber getting crushed by Brock Lesnar. It made me wonder why Keeve was not Sskeer’s master. All of the rest of the action lacked any sense of urgency or any real stakes at all. The action just mechanically moved the story forward with no real tension or psychology at all.
Scott also fails miserably in his attempt to create any interesting or compelling characters. The character work in Star Wars: The High Republic #1 is completely absent. None of the characters are particularly appealing. None of the characters display a unique or well-developed personality. Instead, Scott delivers a parade of characters that come across like cardboard cutouts lifeless acting out the story.
The reader never cares about any of the characters. The reader never gets invested in any of the characters. e characters. The reader never gets invested in any of the characters. None of the characters are particularly appealing.
Sskeer looks cool. No doubt about it. But, Sskeer has literally no personality at all. The dude is the color beige wrapped up in a badass looking lizard body.
Kriss is as bland as a slice of white bread. This character appears to be lacking a pulse. I have seen animatronics at Disney World with more life in them than Kriss’ character. Kriss is more of an archetype than an actual character.
Lastly, we have our protagonist of the issue in Keeve. Unfortunately, Keeve is as generic and dull as possible. Keeve is saddled with a personality that vacillates between boring and annoying. Keeve starts off like Hayden Christianson’s Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones. Then Keeve transitions into being just a generic good guy character. There is zero depth to Keeve’s character. Scott saddles her with nothing more than the most basic tropes of a youthful good guy character.
Scott’s handling of Keeve’s character is also quite jarring to the reader. In the first half of the issue, we have Keeve coming across as sullen and grumpy. Keeve is even not sorry about killing a tree during her fight with Sskaar. This runs contrary to how a Jedi Knight respects all forms of life great and small. Scott is clearly writing Keeve as a person flashing all the qualities of a Jedi that is susceptible to the Dark Side. I really was expecting Keeve to pull a heel turn and go down the path of the Sith.
Yet, in the second half of Star Wars: The High Republic #1, Scott transitions Keeve into your generic youthful good guy. Keeve suddenly is acting like an old school Robin apologizing to Batman for their youthful exuberance. Keeve then undergoes the massively important ritual of becoming a Jedi Knight in the most shallow manner possible. There is no genuine emotion at all to be found in this important scene.
Overall, there is a complete lack of creativity or uniqueness when it comes to the story or the characters. The result of this poor plotting and the shockingly shallow story is that Scott completely fails to give the reader any incentive at all to come back for more with Star Wars: The High Republic #2. Scott never makes the case to the reader that Star Wars: The High Republic is going to offer a unique or interesting story. There is no reason for the reader to pick Star Wars: The High Republic over the other comic books crowding the stands.
The art in Star Wars: The High Republic #1 is rather bland. Many of the character designs are androgynous. To be fair, we do not know how old Keeve is. However, we know that younglings become Padawans at the age of 13. We have read in the past that it takes close to a decade of training with a master before a Padawan can take and pass the Trials of Knighthood. So, it would seem that the youngest that a person may become a Jedi Knight is age 23. So, while we do not know how old Keeve is it would make sense for her to be around 23. Therefore, Anindito’s decision to draw Keeve with the body of a pre-teen boy is bizarre and makes no sense.
On top of that, Keeve is saddled with a look most often seen with generic non-playable characters in your typical sci-fi/fantasy/action video game. This lame look does not help elevate an already unimaginative character.
Anindito also draws Kriss in the same androgynous manner. In fact, if I had not seen the promotional material and already knew that Kriss was a female then I probably would have mistaken her for an effeminate man.
Overall, the Jedi character designs are incredibly boring. It does not help that Anindito chooses nearly identical outfits for all of the Jedis. This reduces the Jedi to a group of generic characters much like Stormtroopers. On top of this, Anindito goes with a drab color scheme of white, yellow, and brown. Nothing about the Jedi’s uniform look is even remotely interesting, cool, or unique.
Overall: Star Wars: The High Republic #1 is a perfectly mediocre read that will not make an impression on the reader is neither a positive nor negative way. The story is so pedestrian that I have a hard time recommending that readers run out to their local comic book shop and purchase this issue. If you are looking for your Star Wars fix then spend it on Star Wars: Darth Vader or Star Wars: Bounty Hunters. You will thank me.
Star Wars: The High Republic #1 costs a whopping $4. It absolutely is not worth the cover price at all. The list is nearly limitless of better ways to spend your entertainment dollars. I would only recommend Star Wars: The High Republic #1 to parents who might be looking for some safe and inoffensive reading for their daughters under the age of 12.
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