Star Wars: The High Republic – There is No Fear / Heart of the Drengir Review

After enjoying the two High Republic books so much and with a subscription to Marvel Unlimited I’ve been reading each issue as they’ve appeared on the digital service. The first two story arcs make up the first eight issues and form a very satisfying whole that fills in a gap in between the first two books as well as showing us what some of the more higher profile Jedi from Book 1 were doing during Book 2. So… let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

The galaxy is at peace, ruled by the glorious Republic and protected by the noble and wise

Jedi Knights. As a symbol of all that is good, the Jedi launch Starlight Beacon into the far reaches of the Outer Rim. This new space station will serve as a ray of hope for the galaxy.

Young Keeve Trennis triumphantly passed her trials and is now a Jedi Knight. But her master, Sskeer, is deeply troubled. Something is very wrong….

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

It’s funny how I’m more excited seeing Avar Kriss than Yoda, though I guess I’ve had a lot more visual Yoda over the years, to be fair!

The lead character in this story is Keeve Trennis, a newly minted Jedi Knight who after dealing with a migrating swarm is soon sent to a derelict starship that was requesting help. Alongside Keeve are her former Master Sskeer and Jedi pair Terec and Ceret, who are twins connected mentally so they feel each other’s emotions and pain (sort of like a Star Wars Tomax and Xamot… for those who know what I’m going on about). What they find is some Nihil Raiders and after being reminded of the traumatic events of the Great Disaster Sskeer looses it and not only kills the raiders but frantically slashes at their corpses, much to the rightful shock of his former Padawan. Alongside the Nihil they find evidence of the Hutt Cartel, who shouldn’t be operating inside Republic space, so Master Avar Kriss decides to pop on her capital ship, the Atraxia, to recover the starship and examine the Hutt corpse found within it while Sskeer is asked to trace a clue left at the Nihil raid that links to a planet named Sedri Minor. Sskeer and Ceret head off to Sedri while Keeve and Terec are told to stay on the ship.

Sskeer and Ceret arrive and after meeting some locals are told of a monster in the nearby fields and the two Jedi come face-to-face with the Drengir, a plant-based species that are spreading like wildfire that also has some semblance of Force sensitivity. Both Jedi are soon enthralled by them, causing Terec to freak out back on the ship and driving Keeve to head down to try and help. The newly arrived Avar Kriss soon follows her but eventually the two of them are captured by the Drengir as well but thankfully Keeve manages to get through to Sskeer and he breaks free of their control, though keeps the handy Drengir branch-arm he’s now acquired. Things go from bad to worse as the Hutts arrive, led by Myarga the Hutt, as they have been extorting the population of the planet via a protection racket and don’t appreciate the Jedi interfering, and when Avar claims that as its in Republic space it means they have no right Sskeer loses his cool again and uses his branch-arm to capture Myarga, soon causing a bunch of Hutt mercenaries to arrive and attack the Jedi. Avar’s call for assistance from Starlight Beacon only reveals that the Hutt corpse taken there from the derelict ship had a Drengir spore inside it and now they were facing an invasion themselves.

Awwww, they’re so cute! I want a pet Drengir for Christmas!

As Starlight Beacon begin to get things under control both the Jedi and the Hutts soon join forces on the planet when an army of Drengir arrive on the battlefield and in order to shift them Sskeer allows himself to be taken in to the Drengir “root-mind”, with Keeve by his side to stop him if he fully succumbs. The Jedi Master manages to convince the Drengir on the planet to flee but falls unconscious in doing so. Several months pass and Avar and the Hutts have come to an agreement to assist each other in confronting the Drengir while Keeve and Sskeer soon re-connect to the Drengir root-mind and manage to find out their home planet, where the Drengir Great Progenitor is located, a being that would presumably end the spread of the Drengir if stopped.

This leads to the final two issues, where the Jedi and the Hutts face off against the Progenitor and a whole massive swath of Drengir, and although Keeve is left out of the battle she soon arrives with a Jedi Wayseeker named Orla Jareni. Eventually the Progenitor is cornered and reveals it was trapped by the ancient Sith long ago after they used “totems of darkness” to cut it off from its fellow Drengir, which leads to Avar Kriss and co. doing just the same, though with a special field that freezes it in time and once again cuts it off from its kin. Myarga ominously says that keeping it alive will be a big mistake before leaving back to Hutt Space. The Jedi then call to confirm their success and find out what happened at the Republic Fair (in Book 2 “The Rising Storm”), much to their shock…

It was a fun story (or two stories I guess). It was great to see the High Republic characters and technology… I was going to say “in person” but that doesn’t make any sense… it was great to see them in general, anyway. The art was consistently good too.

The Bad:

Sskeer decides to teach Keeve one last lesson: How to be killed by Sskeer.

Not a lot really. Oddly Issue 1 was the weakest as it told a pretty plain stand-alone story to introduce us to Keeve and show us some of the High Republic Jedi celebrating the opening of the Starlight Beacon, so I know why it existed but it didn’t make much of a first impression with me. Otherwise I enjoyed it but I can’t say it was the same kind of memorable storytelling as the books, which makes sense given they’re the lynchpins of the era, these are “just” the stories in between.

Overall Thoughts:

Hooray for elaborate splash pages!

The High Republic era of Star Wars continues to deliver some really fun storytelling and some unique ideas for the long running universe but now in a more visual medium. I enjoyed the Drengir as a new type of enemy and I’m interested now to see how the fallout of the Fair effects the comics as much as what happens in the next book (out next month!)

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