Another arc comes to an end in The High Republic comic series (written by Cavan Scott), as issue #8 sees a turning point in the fight against the Drengir while leading up to the events of The Rising Storm.
And in doing so, it amounts to what is probably my favorite issue of the whole series so far. It’s great storytelling, a lot of fun, and shows the Jedi at their best.
Let’s dive in to the review!
Sskeer contacts Maru, making a desperate plea once again for more reinforcements – a plea that Maru is unable to answer, having sent every Jedi he can gather to their aid, especially with the Republic Fair ongoing. The communication soon cuts out again, and we see that Skeer, the Jedi, and the Hutts are in a frantic fight against the Drengir on Mulita, with their forces seemingly being overrun. As they fight, Sskeer remarks how much he wants his former padawan Keeve Trennis by his side, but she’s not there. The Drengir are everywhere, and they have weaponized some of the local creatures to fight against the Jedi and Hutt assault. Skeer and Myarga the Hutt are both overrun by the Drengir, and someone uses the Force to save them. Myarga thanks Skeer, thinking it was the master’s work, but the Trandoshan says it wasn’t him – Keeve Trennis then shows up, dropping off a ship with Orla Jareni, who apparently has quite the history with Sskeer.
Keeve asks about Avar Kriss’s location and learns that Avar went on ahead to confront the Great Progenitor. Keeve rushes off to help Avar, hoping it’s not too late since Avar was walking into a trap, and is accompanied by Terec. They find the Great Progenitor, but it’s too late: Avar is in its grasp. Terec says they should call for help, but Keeve says they are enough. Keeve shares that the reason the Great Progenitor gave Keeve the location was because it wanted Avar Kriss, whose abilities to connect the Jedi through the Force is a most valuable skill for the Drengir to take advantage of. But Keeve defies the Great Progenitor, saying that Avar is the one who brings them all together, and that when the Jedi are together, they can do incredible things. As she says this, all the Jedi on the planet lend their aid through the Force, and it is enough: Avar breaks free of the Drengir’s grip, landing gracefully beside Keeve and saying that the light banishes the darkness.
By this time the others have arrived as well, and the Hutts want to kill the Great Progenitor, but the Jedi order them to stand down. They will protect the life, but they trap the Great Progenitor in a stasis-field generator, which disrupts the Drengir’s connection. They plan to secure the creature in the bogan vault aboard the Starlight Beacon. Myarga won’t stand for this and tries to kill the creature, but Keeve stops her. The Jedi then stand together, in-between the Hutt and the Great Progenitor, saying that if she wants to kill it, she’ll have to go through them. The Hutt Cartel leaves the planet, with their partnership with the Jedi apparently at an end.
In the aftermath of the battle, Maru contacts Avar, the coms having apparently been restored. Avar is thrilled about the Drengir having been dealt with and asks that Maru inform High Council Member Stellan Gios of this, but Maru says that’s why he was contacting them: he had just gotten done talking to Gios, and the Republic Fair is gone. The Nihil have returned, and they couldn’t be stopped this time.
This is probably my favorite issue of the entire High Republic comic series so far, and that’s saying quite a bit! I’ve loved the whole run, but this one brought so many different threads together in a thrilling and visually beautiful way.
It also is a very significant issue, as the Drengir threat has apparently been neutralized. The Sith previously trapped the Drengir to protect themselves, but now the Jedi have trapped the Drengir to protect others. With the Great Progenitor in a stasis-field, the connection between the root-mind of the enemy has been severed, and the implication then is that the Drengir won’t be a threat any longer. The Great Progenitor will be taken to the Starlight Beacon, so it’s possible we’ll see it show up again. But it really does seem like the Drengir threat has come to an end for the time being, and it’s right as the threat of the Nihil rises.
So this issue doesn’t let us, or the Jedi, rest on this victory for long. The last page of the issue is a devastating display of Maru looking at a visual display of the destruction on Valo, of the ruins of the Republic Fair. With that, the issue is brought up to the time of The Rising Storm, and it’s bringing this arc to a conclusion only to set up another one, as we explore the fallout of the attack on the Fair. The conflict between the Republic and the Nihil has reached another level, and that will have plenty of implications for the Jedi. [There is one continuity error between this issue and The Rising Storm, and considering Cavan Scott was the writer for both that’s a bit strange: OrbaLin is present in the background on Mulita for the attack on the Drengir, at the same time OrbaLin is a significant figure in The Rising Storm fighting on Valo. I don’t think it’s a huge deal, but there’s no way around it that it’s a legitimate mistake.]
But the Drengir threat, at least for now, is taken care of. And I did think it was a really nice touch that among the Jedi on the planet for the assault on the Drengir were Cohmac Vitus and his apprentice, Reath Silas, and that Orla Jareni arrives midway throughout the battle. In Into the Dark, these Jedi were all present when they inadvertently let the Drengir loose during the adventure on the Amaxine station, which is what kick-started the whole crisis with the creatures in the first place. So here they are again, at the (supposed) end to the saga, making right their previous wrongs. It’s Reath that actually activates the stasis-field to trap the Great Progenitor, and I thought it was great to see the connection to Into the Dark and see these Jedi showing up again.
But it was Keeve Trennis who was, once again, the star of the issue, and she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite Jedi and my maybe my favorite character from this era. Having learned to trust herself and the Force in the previous issue, here she is the one stepping in to take charge, and it’s only thanks to her that Avar Kriss is saved and that Keeve’s vision doesn’t come true. And it’s notable too that, when Terec says they need help, Keeve is the one to say that they are enough – and that they always have been enough. This comes an issue after her crisis of confidence, and it shows that she is growing as a Jedi. She confronts the Great Progenitor and turns its own plan against it. The Great Progenitor wanted Avar Kriss all along because of the Jedi Master’s ability to connect the Jedi through the Force, which we have seen a number of times. And as Keeve points out, it’s a great plan too, since the Drengir could theoretically spread its fear throughout the Jedi simply by taking control of Avar. But Keeve uses this to her advantage, using the way Avar connects them to multiply the strength of the Jedi through the Force. This all comes through a beautiful page that shows all the Jedi on the planet lending their strength through the Force, enough to help Avar break free. It’s great to see the Jedi working together so well here and to see their strength in the Force.
We also see that the Jedi are committed to protecting all life, even if its the Drengir. They have a way to defeat it without killing it, and that’s the option they choose – much to Myarga’s dismay. In fact, the Jedi stand against the Hutts in defending the Drengir. After all the devastation the Drengir caused and all the trouble the Jedi went to in fighting them, one would easily forgive the Jedi for trying to kill the Drengir here – but they remain committed to the light and to their role protecting life, even if one might be able to claim that the Drengir are too dangerous to be kept alive. It’s an impressive reminder that the Jedi of this era, though not perfect, are truly and courageously committed to defending light and life.
That all does lead to the severing of their alliance with the Hutts, though, and I’m sure that will come as a relief to many in the Jedi Order and the Republic, as The Rising Storm showed us that many had growing concerns about Avar’s cooperation with them. I’m interested in seeing what fallout could come in the future from this alliance, but for now, it seems like it’s over.
This issue was fantastic, and it showed the Jedi at their best while showing a significant turning point in the High Republic story so far, with the Drengir defeated and the Nihil stronger than ever. Like I said earlier, this was probably my favorite issue so far of what is an incredibly strong comic.