The third issue of the Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures comic series was released on Wednesday, continuing the story of the kids from Trymant IV, Zeen Mrala and Krix Kamerat!
The series is written by Daniel José Older, with art by Harvey Tolibao, and the third issue continues what is a very strong start to the series! Let’s take a dive into this latest issue!
This issue juxtaposes two different yet inextricably connected stories: one of Zeen Mrala with the Jedi, and the other of Krix Kamerat with the Nihil. As we learned in previous issues, the two are best friends and grew up together, but when the Nihil attacked their home of Trymant IV, they chose different paths. This issue begins with them communicating via the transmitter Master Yoda gave them, and it quickly becomes apparent that their situations are different. Zeen misses her friend and her home, but she also feels right at home with the Jedi, no longer having to conceal her connection to the Force. But Krix, on the other hand, can’t get over the fact that Zeen had lied to him about this all along – and it’s clear the Nihil aren’t treating him as well as the Jedi are treating Zeen.
In the middle of the issue, the stories diverge a bit. The Jedi Masters aboard the Starlight Beacon discuss what should be done with Zeen, who is too old to begin the training, but Padawan Lula Talisola speaks up and points out that they haven’t asked Zeen what she wants to do. The other Padawans also vouch for Zeen, as they are her new friends.
Meanwhile, aboard the Nihil flagship (the Gaze Electric), Marchion Ro attempts to get information from the elder, Tromak, but can not. We learn that the Nihil are after an ancient Trymant artifact, but that the elder is always sworn to secrecy and can never reveal the location. Not taking no for an answer, Ro orders Tromak and Krix taken to the Battle Rink. Along the way, Krix persuades Tromak to tell him the location of the artifact. They arrive and discover that one of them will be forced to ride a Bogaranth, while the other must flee it. Tromak selflessly volunteers to ride the creature, even though he recognizes it means he will surely die. Just before the battle can commence, however, Marchion Ro interrupts it, having discovered a transponder connection with the Starlight Beacon. Krix immediately blames Tromak, who is aghast as he is led away to be fed to the beast. Ro takes Krix to talk in private and reveals that he knows the transponder was the boy’s, but that he is impressed with how quickly Krix threw Tromak under the bus in order to survive.
This is when the two stories again converge. Both the Jedi and the Nihil recognize that this transponder connection, which can give the location of the other away, can be used to their advantage. The Jedi want to use it to find the Nihil’s location and need Zeen’s help; the Nihil want to use it to lure the Jedi into a trap and need Krix’s help. So the last page of the issue is split side-by-side, with the two kids being asked to help.
I find the way that this story is told greatly impacted the way that we understand it, because we’re switching back and forth between these two kids – best friends now separated – in very different situations… or so we initially think. The Jedi, of course, are the “good guys” and the Nihil are the “bad guys,” so we’re led to think that Zeen is in a good spot and Krix is in a bad spot. That’s true! The beginning of the isuse makes that clear, where the Jedi Masters come to speak with Zeen and Yoda brings treats to share, while on the very next page Krix is taken to see Marchion Ro and told “breakfast can wait.” Furthermore, Zeen finally feels at home and like she can be herself, while Krix is so overcome with anger about his friend’s deception that it’s all he can focus on. It’s totally obvious that the Jedi are kinder than the Nihil; that’s a no-brainer.
But at the same time, it’s no coincidence that this issue ends with a split-page, with both Zeen Mrala and Krix Kamerat put in an identical position: recruited to help find the other side with the transponder. Krix appears more readily willing to help than Zeen does, but both the storytelling and especially the artwork drives us to see that both the Jedi and the Nihil are placing these young kids, who have just lost everything, in the same spot. The Jedi are nicer and more understanding as they go about it, but it’s still notable that both sides are seeking to take advantage of the newcomer’s relationships to their own ends.
Again, I’m not suggesting that the Jedi and the Nihil are that much alike, as the issue does highlight their differences. I also find it interesting to hear these Jedi Masters talk about a young, Force sensitive kid who was just taken from the only home she knows – yet who is considered too old to begin her training. There are similarities to Anakin Skywalker there, and I’m very curious to see how the Jedi of this era handle it – it already seems that there are plenty more people speaking up in defense of Zeen than for Anakin, but we’ll have to monitor that as it goes along.
I also need to mention how Krix is less and less of the innocent kid taken advantage of by the Nihil; he’s still that, but we are also learning that he’ll do whatever it takes to preserve his own wellbeing. That’s contrasted in this issue with Tromak, the elder, who selflessly volunteers for the role in the Battle Rink that he knows will lead to death… and only moments later, Krix lies and blames Tromak for the transponder, which gets the elder killed. Krix is only out for himself – he doesn’t care about the impact on others.
Overall, I really enjoyed this issue, and it’s another strong installment of this great High Republic Adventures line. I’ve already noted it, but I thought the way this story was framed, both from the writing and the art, really added to the narrative that was being told, as it was the parallel storylines of these two kids that winds up converging in interesting ways at the end – and I can’t wait to read more! It seems that the Jedi and the Nihil are heading toward a confrontation before long!