The High Republic is full of mostly new Jedi that we’ve never met before, set around 200 years prior to the events of the Skywalker Saga. But there’s one especially prominent Jedi active at this time: Grand Master Yoda.
At the time of the High Republic, Yoda is one of three Grand Masters of the Jedi Order, alongside Lahru and Pra-Tre Veter, and he obviously would still be the Grand Master of the Order two centuries later at the time of the Jedi Purge. The other Jedi obviously have a great deal of respect for Yoda, but by the time of the Great Hyperspace Disaster in the High Republic, Yoda had taken a sabbatical from the Jedi Council, deciding to spend more time training younglings aboard the Star Hopper ship, working alongside Master Torban Buck to train the next generation. Training younglings was not uncommon for the Order’s Grand Master, but Yoda took a more intentional role during this period such that it necessitated the whole of his attention. Nevertheless, Yoda lent his support to the other Jedi during the Great Disaster, aiding Master Avar Kriss and the others in the Hetzal System. Yoda was also present at the dedication of the Starlight Beacon.
After these events, Yoda and the younglings became entangled in a Nihil attack on Trymant IV, with Yoda fighting to defend the other Jedi and the people of the planet. The mysterious Eye of the Nihil, Marchion Ro, was after some unknown artifacts and was in possession of one-half of what he needed. One of the locals, Elder Tromak, asked Yoda to travel with him to Vrant Tarnum to ensure that Ro wouldn’t get the other half of it. The two traveled to the planet together, with Yoda informing the other Jedi not to follow him, but they were shot down over the planet and Ro managed to get the artifact nonetheless (which, unbeknownst to the Jedi, allowed Ro to control the Nameless).
And that’s the last we saw of Yoda in phase one of the High Republic, until he returned at the end of Midnight Horizon to aid the Jedi in defense of Corellia. After that, Yoda issues a recall for all Jedi to return to Coruscant.
He was mentioned in other stories, but nobody knows what happened to him during this time. It seems, in fact, that the other Jedi aren’t even sure if he’s still alive, but they do trust that Yoda knows what he’s up to and can fend for himself. But I’ll just say that it feels strange, as a reader, to just have Yoda totally disappear during this period. The Republic is in crisis, with the Great Hyperspace Disaster, the destruction of the Republic Fair on Valo, and the destruction of Starlight Beacon. The threat of the Nihil is growing, and they have a secret weapon that targets Jedi, disconnects them from the Force, and kills them. So dire are things that at the close of phase one as the Grand Masters recall all Jedi back to Coruscant, since they don’t know what haunts and targets the Jedi.
Entering this brand new era it was obvious that the storytellers would need to use Yoda sparingly in order to establish newer characters, and they have massively succeeded in doing just that. But I feel like we’re bordering the territory of not using Yoda enough; he doesn’t need to be the main character, but it feels a little cheap to not even have him present at all. Again, this is all just my take, but it feels increasingly strange how they’ve used him (or, more accurately, not used him).
However, with all of that said, the storytellers are well aware of this. In a January interview with CNET discussing his book Midnight Horizon (in which there are flashbacks of Yoda training his padawan Kantam Sy), Daniel José Older said this:
“Can’t tell you much, of course, but we’ve had a lot of discussions about this, and what I can say is that Yoda has been going through some very, very rough times. Of course, it would have to be bad for it to keep him out of commission all this time, when the galaxy needs him most. I can’t confirm whether or not we’ll see Yoda again during this particular storytelling era of the High Republic… but the good part is he’s been an active member of so many of our Jedi’s lives, and that’s why it was so important to bring him in with these flashback sequences, like the one we have here.”
I respect the fact that these storytellers seem to be well aware of how conspicuous Yoda’s absence here is, and that makes me think that there’s a larger plan for him in this era. So I’m well aware that this story is only one-third done, and thus patience and time is needed. It feels strange for Yoda to be absent, but the fact that the authors are aware of that too is reassuring.
And it seems that their focus on Yoda in this period is primarily on Yoda’s impact on other characters, which I think is a great way to handle him in this time period. He doesn’t have to be the main character of these stories, but we still see just how influential he really is.