Review – Found and Lost Friends in IDW’s The High Republic Adventures #8
A new story begins in The High Republic Adventures, moving past the attack on Valo. The galaxy remains in turmoil, and the Jedi are still picking up the pieces of what happened. As Padawans reunite, the Nihil prepare for their next strike. Two friends, on opposing sides, must decide which path they’ll take, as the conflict between the Jedi and the Nihil pulls them further apart. SPOILERS AHEAD…
Nice to see Ram Jomaram joining these Padawans on Starlight Beacon! Finally, Zeen isn’t the new kid on the Jedi outpost. Everyone seems to be happy at the reunion, but Zeen can’t stop thinking about her friend on the other side of the galaxy. She’s still haunted by the Nihil attack on her home world, but even more so by the loss of her closest friend, Krix. Both of them raised to hate the Force and the Jedi, while Zeen hid her abilities, this prejudice has divided them across the stars. And unfortunately for Krix, he’s found himself under less fostering influences.
Krix has quickly become something of an apprentice to Marchion Ro. It’s still unclear what the Eye of the Nihil is grooming Krix for, but it’s disturbing to think of the damage he’s doing. The manipulation of Krix’s prejudice turns it into a weapon. Krix, barely a teenager, is ready to lead the Nihil forces into battle. He’s not interested in bringing down the Jedi, Krix wants to annihilate them. It’s frightening and sad to see a child so wrapped up in hate, ready to inflict violence and death on the galaxy. Krix inquires about Ro’s weapons, which we’ve glimpsed in The Rising Storm, but Ro gives him a fleet of ships to attack a Jedi outpost instead of answers. Krix is happily distracted from his questions.
Krix leads a Nihil Storm to Takodana for a twofold mission targeting Maz Kanata and a Jedi outpost guarded by a lone knight. It’s not specified why they are going after Maz, only hinted she might be some sort of competition for them. It would be interesting to see a more sinister version of Maz in this era, and perhaps something that happens here leads her to become more of an ally for the Jedi. The lone Jedi doesn’t seem to be concerned about the onslaught of Nihil at all, perhaps recognizing they are being led into battle by an angry child blinded by revenge. The art by Toni Bruno and Rebecca Nalty here gives an exciting, ominous perspective for what’s about to go down on Takodana.
Masters Kantam and Buck open the floor for questions. It’s clear how much uncertainty there is among the Padawans, with a barrage of questions stemming from the tragic events of The Rising Storm. It shows how hard it must be to be a Padawan in the face of so much uncertainty, while the Jedi are equally nervous about how to answer. A thought I’ve had reading along is that these stories are preparing us for the Padawans to take a larger role in the future of The High Republic, most likely when they’re older and fully trained Jedi. I think it’s great authors are taking the opportunity to highlight the terrible things they’ve experienced as a way to inform their future stories and actions, whether those are for good or bad. It also reminds readers of how shaky things are for the Jedi Order right now, as they are tested on so many fronts.
Meet Jedi Master Sav Malagán, who singularly takes down the storm attacking her temple. The Nihil don’t put up a fight because they don’t even have a chance to. Sav casually hops from ship to ship, dissecting each one with her twin, amethyst-bladed lightsabers. Krix is furious, but like an angry child, runs back to tell his parental figure some mean Jedi beat him. Most Nihil would be terrified of returning to Marchion Ro in failure, so once again it’s demonstrated the toxic paternal relationship between the two at least keeps Krix alive.
Though the Jedi try to soothe the anxiety of the Padawans, they offer transparency about a more urgent matter. Zeen learns her friend Krix has been leading deadly raids on Jedi outposts. Because she’s the narrator, we see her reconcile her sorrow for the friend she thought she knew with the urgency of stopping the person he’s become. She realizes they both came from the same place, poisoned against the Force and the Jedi by their upbringing. Zeen realizes if she can choose good, Krix should have been able to, and his choice to join the Nihil isn’t on her. The guilt she carried is gone, and she makes the choice to help the Jedi stop her friend. I love the journey Older’s taken Zeen on, through these comics and Race to Crashpoint Tower. She’s clear on who she is up to this point, and finds a new path with her found family and friends in the Jedi.
At the other end of the galaxy, Krix continues to make his choices. I have sympathy for Krix, as it’s clear he’s being manipulated by Marchion Ro, who suffered abuse and manipulation of his own by his father, Asgar. The generational cycle of abuse seems to be passing down to his protege, and Krix is so blinded by his prejudice that he doesn’t see what’s happening. I have to trust Older’s writing that, somewhere down the line, this character – perhaps Marchion Ro, as well – will get a shot at doing the right thing. Redemption is a reoccurring theme in Star Wars, and as we know… no one’s ever really gone.
This is a great introduction to the new arc. The High Republic Adventures has cast a lot of open plot threads out, and Daniel José Older takes his time exploring them. That’s fine with me. We have plenty of time, especially since we are still at the beginning. Watching these characters grow as Padawans will pay off, and the story itself provides plenty of intrigue. Themes of friendship, loyalty, and hope bring out the best of Star Wars, and that’s so true for The High Republic Adventures. Can’t wait to watch these kids grow up!