The second issue of Cavan Scott’s The High Republic comic series was recently released, and it shows some Jedi on a mission packed with intrigue… but perhaps the biggest intrigue of them all is what’s happening with Jedi Master Sskeer.
I don’t want to divulge any spoilers here, so I suppose we’ll just go right ahead and jump into the review of this issue, and be warned that spoilers for this comic series, as well as for Light of the Jedi, are ahead.
Four Jedi are sent on a mission to the Kazlin System, responding to a distress call received by the Starlight Beacon. Jedi Master Sskeer and his former padawan, Jedi Knight Keeve Trennis, are accompanied by the Jedi twins Terec and Ceret. The twins are Kotabi, who essentially share the same mind and thus can feel each other’s emotions (and pain, as seen later in the issue). Upon arriving at the scene, however, they find the ship utterly ravaged and no survivors. The Jedi board the ship and split up. The ship is filled with dangerous gas, and they soon discover the corpse of a Hutt. They also discover that the ship was transporting barley, a key ingredient in bacta. Piecing everything together, they realize that this attack was by the Nihil – whom Sskeer had previously faced, giving him haunting flashbacks.
Sskeer and Terec are ambushed by a surviving Nihil member, wounding Terec. Sskeer springs into action, cutting down the Nihil member and slicing him in half. As he stands over the body, he is overcome with rage and begins lashing out with his lightsaber at the corpse even further, which is witnessed by Keeve.
The Jedi contact the Starlight Beacon, and in consultation with Avar Kriss and Maru, they determine a visit to Sedri is needed – the location of the barley and the planet the ship was traveling from. Sskeer and Ceret head off alone to Sedri Minor, looking for answers, but are told by the locals that they are not welcome. Ceret is lured into a field and mysteriously vanishes. Meanwhile, back aboard the ship, Keeve shows Avar the corpse that had been so brutally attacked by Sskeer, worried about him. But that conversation is cut short by Terec’s sensing Ceret in danger. Kriss immediately contacts Sskeer, who then notices the other Jedi is missing and goes in search, but finds nothing except Ceret’s lightsaber left behind.
The big thing from this issue is Sskeer, but before getting there, I want to address a few other things. First, it was great seeing a Hutt operating in this era, as that’s a small way to connect things that makes perfect sense. Second, it seems like the development of bacta may be one of the big advances of this era, as it has already been mentioned several times in these stories. And third, about what happened to Ceret…
The short answer is that we don’t know for sure, but the last we see is a towering tentacle-like arm reaching out above the fields toward the Jedi. I’m guessing this is a drengir. These are basically plants, but extremely dangerous plants seeking to eat and devour living creatures, and strongly connected to the dark side of the Force. They first appeared in Claudia Gray’s recent novel Into the Dark, and they pose a very real threat to the Jedi. I am guessing that the enemy lurking in the fields here is a drengir, and that’s probably not good news for Ceret’s fate.
But Ceret is not the only Jedi in trouble in this issue: Sskeer is very troubled, and it is concerning to Keeve Trennis – and to readers. In Light of the Jedi, Sskeer was one of many Jedi to take part in a large battle against the Nihil, and during this encounter he lost his arm, and more importantly he lost his very close friend, Jedi Master Jora Malli. This very much seems to haunt the Jedi, as in this issue he even has flashbacks to the moment where he lost his arm. He is very clearly not right. In the previous issue, after Keeve was knighted and after the dedication of the Starlight Beacon, Sskeer heads off by himself and lets out an angry, “No!” cry. Then in this issue, he cannot sense the Nihil attack, and lashes out with an uncontrolled rage and hatred against the enemy – which shocks and frightens Keeve. Avar Kriss recognizes that Sskeer has not been the same since the battle at Kur, and regrets not doing anything about it sooner.
Something is definitely wrong with Sskeer, and it’s easy to think that it is the haunting moments at Kur that have done it to him. But if you remember, when we first got a glimpse of Sskeer in promo material, this is how Cavan Scott described him:
“Sskeer plays a major role in the Marvel Comics ongoing and is an absolute joy to write. He’s a gruff, opinionated Trandoshan who has been around the block more times than he cares to remember. Loyal, but brutally honest, you can always be sure Sskeer will tell you exactly what’s on his mind…or so Avar Kriss and his fellow Jedi think. That’s all about to change. This is a Jedi Master with a secret that is tearing him apart.”
What’s interesting about that quote from Scott is that Avar Kriss and the other Jedi know about what happened at Kur. They know he lost his arm, and they know that Jora Malli was killed. So in other words, my gut assumption is that there’s something more going on with Sskeer that we don’t know about yet, and perhaps this event was what triggered it and brought it to the surface. He is definitely dabbling in the dark side here, giving in to his anger, but we will have to see where that goes. From the sound of it, there’s something more about Sskeer that we don’t know – and that Avar Kriss and the others don’t know either. There’s a lot of mystery with Sskeer, and it’s happening amidst a very entertaining and equally mysterious storyline.
I’m loving this comic so far, and I can’t wait to learn more.