Review – The Pace Quickens as Darkness Invades in Marvel’s The High Republic #4
After last issue’s cliffhanger, the High Republic #4 kicks off in high gear and doesn’t let up. We get a few answers, a lot more questions, and seperate storylines start to converge. Let’s jump in:
FULL SPOILERS AHEAD…..
We start with a flashback of Master Sskeer and Keeve Trennis training, before she became a Jedi knight. We see her attempt to jump a ravine, fail, and apologize to her master. Sskeer replies magnanimously ‘there are no shortcuts on light’s path. We strive. We repeat. We succeed.’
This is an important part of the narrative, so far we have only seen Sskeer in this series as a shadow of his former self: haunted from the Battle of Kur, mourning the loss of his arm, his friend Jora Malli and his now apparent disconnect from the Force. This flashback shows us the kind teacher Trennis knows her former master to be, one that breaks the stigma of Trandoshan viciousness.
We cut back to the present, an all too different scene; Trennis, Avar Kriss and Ceret at the mercy of the Drengir, a carnivorous, plant-like entity that has possessed Sskeer. In pleading with the beast, we get a nice page of exposition with impressive art, showcasing the Drengir’s history (including an appearance of the Amaxine Station, which appears in The High Republic: Into the Dark and The Rise of Kylo Ren comic book).
The Drengir were once spread across the galaxy consuming flesh and bone as they pleased, they even worked alongside what appears to be the Sith. In realising that the Drengir could not be killed the ‘Sith’ trapped the first of the Drengir underground forcing her to sleep, this in turn caused the rest of the species to slumber under the ground as well, galaxy wide. She was recently woken up though, and so were the rest of them.
Avar Kriss is unable to get through to Sskeer and the vines start to inch towards the teams faces and attempt to control them. Trennis gives one last attempt to get through to her old master, reminding him of his own words, that ‘there are no shortcuts on light’s path’. This final reminder to Sskeer brings him back from the brink and we learn that the Trandoshan purposefully allowed himself to be overtaken in order to learn the creatures weaknesses.
An awakened Sskeer uses the force to push the Drengir above the surface and the Jedi make haste to destroy it.
The power of the four Jedi is enough for Trellis to land the killing blow. This would appear to be the end of the beast, but the parasitic nature of it means it has already spread. Back on the Starlight Beacon archivist Orbalin and two Jedi are dissecting the Hutt found on the derelict ship in issue #2 (Side note: the two Jedi, Irmi Cantaros and Vernestra Rwoh, appear in Justine Ireland’s wonderful junior novel A Test of Courage).
What starts as a standard autopsy becomes an internal attack on Starlight Beacon as the Jedi fight to contain the Drengir spreading from the corpse of the Hutt.
Meanwhile, back on Sedri Minor, an interrogation of the local spokesperson is interrupted by a startling realisation: the Drengir and the Hutts are two completely seperate problems for the planet, and just because the Jedi dealt with one…..
….the other is still very much a problem.
This issue goes at a mile a minute, and if you were reading this after the whole volume had released, no way would you be stopping at this point in the story!
Four issues in and Ario Anindito’s art continues to be stellar, giving the series a unique and dynamic feel. This issue has a lot of intrigue and in a vacuum is a mix of exposition and pure adrenaline, albeit one that has the heroes solve the problems a little too quickly. However, in many ways it’s like The Empire Strikes Back: an amazing middle instalment. Depending on how this arc ends will make all the difference on how this one is viewed in the longterm. For now though, sit back and enjoy the ride.
Alex Newman is huge Star Wars fan and loves to keep up to date with the canon. He’s also loved movies for as long as he can remember. He’s a massive Disney and superhero fan but will watch anything. He’s worked at a cinema, a comic book store and at Disney World but is currently working in radio in London!