Earlier this month, the fourth issue of The High Republic comic (written by Cavan Scott) was released, continuing the story of Avar Kriss, Keeve Trennis, Sskeer, and the others – in the clutches of the dreaded Drengir!
In fact, as the last issue ended, we saw that Sskeer was actually under the control of the Drengir and had turned against his fellow Jedi! That’s where we left it, and this issue picked it up there, giving us some resolution while also introducing some other threats that are looming large!
The issue begins with a flashback to Sskeer training Keeve Trennis six years earlier, with Keeve talking about how much her master believed in her. We see Keeve try to leap a chasm and fail, but be caught by Sskeer with the Force. Instead of being upset with her failure, he responds, “there are no shortcuts on light’s path. We strive. We repeat. We succeed.” Narrating this, Keeve says, “He was my rock. My universe.” And then it cuts to the present day, where Sskeer is under the control of the Drengir, with Keeve and the other Jedi trapped by the carnivorous villains. Avar Kriss tries to get through to Sskeer but cannot. Sskeer explains the history of the Drengir to them, saying that the creatures have now awaken from their slumber.
Meanwhile, on the Starlight Beacon, as the Jedi run tests on the deceased Hutt, they discover a living infestation inside it – which then bursts out of the corpse, revealing a Drengir attack on the Starlight Beacon. Back on Sedri Minor, Keeve takes her turn at trying to get through to her master, telling him that she still believes that “there are no shortcuts on light’s path.” She insists that he doesn’t need to do this, but he responds that he did – so that he could understand their weakness. With that, Sskeer turns against the Drengir. He apologizes to Kriss and Keeve, saying that the Drengir almost overwhelmed him, and he begins to tell Keeve that he has so much more to tell her about the Force – but Kriss cuts it short, since the Drengir still have a local boy captive. The Jedi spring into action, fighting back the Drengir and freeing the boy.
The Jedi then return above ground and confront Kal Sulman, the local who is seemingly in charge, who apparently is more complicit in what’s going on than we originally thought. But this conversation is interrupted by two things. First, Avar Kriss is contacted by the Starlight Beacon and informed of the Drengir attack on the station. And second, the Hutt Cartel shows up, claiming ownership of the planet.
From my view, there are primarily two things to discuss from this issue.
First, we see a deeper look at the bond between Keeve and Sskeer. So far in this series we’ve basically only seen Sskeer as a mysterious and troubled Jedi, who keeps flirting with darkness. But in this flashback, we see him as the respected and loved Jedi others know him as, and that’s pretty cool. He seems to be a great teacher for Keeve, and so we as the reader are left asking the same thing as Keeve: where did it all go so wrong? It was very fitting and poignant to have Keeve be the one to finally get through to her master, quoting to him his own teaching. And that’s when it’s revealed that Sskeer was actually doing this intentionally. But that doesn’t eliminate all the other darkness that we’ve seen from him. There’s something going on with him, and it’s more than just this one episode. He begins to tell Keeve something about the past three weeks, but it’s cut short. That leads me to think – and hope – that we’ll be learning more about what’s happening with Sskeer soon. In this issue, we do get a brief glimpse of what happened to Sskeer in the battle against the Nihil, where he lost his arm (and more significantly, his friend). That seems to have triggered all of this. But to sum all this up, it was cool to see a bit more on the relationship between master and apprentice here.
Second, we learn more about the Drengir – accompanied by stunning artwork by Ario Anindito! This all lines up with what we learned about them in Into the Dark, as we learned then that the Drengir were trapped on this space station until they were unwillingly released on the galaxy by the Jedi in the wake of the Great Disaster. We are told that the Drengir once spread across the galaxy feasting on flesh, and then aligned with others for the greatest gain – and in the artwork, we are shown the Sith! But the Sith soon betrayed the Drengir, and fearing what they couldn’t kill, they trapped them in the statues – the very ones, it seems, that the Jedi encountered on the space station. This history very much matches what we read in Into the Dark, but gives us tremendous illustrations and fills in a few other gaps, all while telling this succintly. It was great to see.
And from the looks of it, the Drengir are not going away anytime soon. In fact, they’re now on the Starlight Beacon! And in the meantime, the Jedi will have their hands full against the Hutt Cartel, too!