The tests keep coming for Jedi Keeve Trennis. After a close encounter with the Drengir, Trennis finds herself tangled with the mysterious beings in both the physical and metaphysical realms. As the rest of the Order struggles to understand their new nemesis, Keeve might have new insight into their origins. SPOILERS AHEAD….
We find Keeve in a strange place, somewhere between the Force and the physical world. Writer Cavan Scott and other authors contributing to The High Republic stories consistently take advantage of runway given to explore the Force. I love the exploration of each Jedi’s unique connection to the Force. As Keeve wanders this strange realm she’s greeted by memories of people she encountered in previous issues: Kanrii, Bartol, Julius, and a mysterious figure who hints she’s seeing the interior Amaxine station from Claudia Gray’s Into the Dark.
Suddenly, Keeve is attacked by what I’m guessing is the vision of a Sith. We know from Into the Dark the ancient Sith used Amaxine station to contain the Drengir. This must be the moment it happened, as the visuals match Claudia Gray’s description of their discovery in this present day. Keeve doesn’t know what she’s seeing, though. When she comes out of her vision, she’s back on Starlight Beacon in a meditation pose. She’s feeling very unsteady, as her nerves manage to reach out through the Force and cause a nearby pane of glass to crack. She goes looking for fellow Jedi, Maru, who may have some answers.
We learn this story takes place before the events of Cavan Scott’s The Rising Storm, so he takes the opportunity to establish where Master Avar Kriss is during those events. She continues to lead an unsteady alliance of Hutts and Jedi out to Wild Space, in search of the Drengir’s origin, and she needs more help. The Jedi continue to feel the strain of adversaries on two fronts, with the Nihil threat still in their sights. Maru encourages Keeve to explore these visions but urges caution about whether they can be trusted.
Meanwhile, in a distant agricultural hub, the Nihil arrive to steal sprayer droids from two botanists. They’ve sent a distress call to Starlight Beacon but haven’t received a response. We know from Daniel José Older’s Race to Crashpoint Tower the Nihil are spreading Drengir spores across the galaxy. Seems like sprayer droids would be an effective tool and these are probably the same Nihil we see in that story. Luckily, someone heard the distress call.
It feels like Star Wars fans often receive new insight on what profanity looks like in a galaxy far, far away. Keeve quickly dispatches most of the Nihil. As she’s about to finish them off, the last one standing suddenly takes the form of the Sith in her vision. The Nihil didn’t actually transform, it’s just Keeve’s vision. This distraction provides the Nihil with an opportunity to strike back but someone else heard the distress call.
Orla Jareni! Not a traditional Jedi, but a Wayseeker, which we haven’t seen in the comics. Wayseekers are not beholden to the Jedi Order. They have taken their leave with the Order’s blessing and feel the Force calling them to wander and explore the galaxy. If you’re curious about Orla, much of her backstory is covered in Into the Dark. I love how much Cavan Scott takes the opportunity to circle back to characters and events from that story. Orla informs Keeve she mostly responded because she could feel the same disturbances she’s felt about the origins of the Drengir. Orla states bluntly she doesn’t believe Keeve’s path in the Force is with the Jedi and deep down Keeve agrees.
Keeve confides in Orla, expressing the inadequacy she feels about being a part of the Jedi Order. While she’s explored the dark, she’s seen what it cost her master. She’s spiraling, her fear rising and feels she doesn’t deserve to be a Jedi. Instead of trying to comfort her or push away the negative emotions, Orla helps Keeve explore them with simple questions. Keeve shares the fear she feels, worried the instability plaguing her makes her a liability to the Jedi. And there’s more, she’s seen visions of the Drengir’s root mind and believes them. Orla digs a little deeper.
For Keeve, these Drengir induced visions are very real. Things aren’t looking good for Avar Kriss, who has been mostly absent from the recent wave of novels. I imagine whatever she is doing with the Hutts and Drengir will become more apparent in the next wave of novels and ongoing comics, but I’m worried. Also, if you’ve read or experienced Dooku: Jedi Lost (also by Cavan Scott) you know where Keeve’s story is headed and I’m hoping Yoda’s forlorn mention of her in that future story is because he outlived her due to his natural lifespan and not something else.
I loved this issue! The art from Georges Jeanty, Karl Story, and Annalisa Leoni carries Scott’s writing so well. It’s so cool to see so many moments from Into the Dark come to life on the page! It’s very exciting to me future issues will feature the duo of Keeve and Orla. Orla’s a character I hoped we would see more of after finishing Claudia Gray’s novel and I can’t think of a better character for her to team up with. I’m also happy Keeve is getting guidance from someone outside the Order, who likely struggled with the code of the Jedi, and will help her explore the conflicts she feels. Some of the best parts of The High Republic are watching these Force-users and Jedi deal with their emotional struggles, rather than repress the nuance of existence for the sake of being a monolithic, warrior-monk. Let the Jedi feel their feelings!