All our favorite Padawans of the High Republic return in IDW’s The High Republic Adventures #9. Having thwarted a Nihil attack on Takodana, the Padawans regroup at a familiar site, Maz’s Castle. We also learn about a connection between Maz and one of the Padawans, deepening her ties to the Jedi and the Force. SPOILERS AHEAD….
As the Padawans arrive on Takondana, Qort is brought back to his first visit as a baby. A group of pirates discovered him, and after he tore apart their ship, they brought him to Maz seeking help. I love this backstory of Maz raising Qort before he entered the Jedi Order. This also sets the stage for Maz to enter the High Republic stories, which I’d love, since it’s implied she has such a deep knowledge of the Force in the sequel trilogy.
Master Sav deflected the attack from the Nihil earlier, but knows he’ll need a bigger arsenal and more hands for the second wave of Nihil ships. There are also a pair of defectors from the Nihil – the Krill sisters, but Sav is skeptical and keeping a close eye on them. As the Padawans gear up, they learn Maz has always enjoyed a close relationship with the Jedi, especially with their temple being just across the lake. She’s even assisted in several missions in the past.
More of Qort’s story is revealed. He comes from a species called the Aloxians, who survive on a planet filled with dangerous predators. The Aloxians are forced to train as fierce warriors from the time they are young to survive these predators. As explained above, Qort was abducted and sold to mercenaries hoping to use his skills for their own purposes. The skull helmet Qort wears, found in the depths of Maz’s castle, hides his true visage, and we are promised to see it one day. I love the symbolism used with masks, as Qort has never truly been seen by anyone and will come into his own. I wonder if writer Daniel José Older is making hints about what’s to come for the character, as well.
Master Sav demonstrates the utilitarian purpose his head piece serves, by knocking one of the Nihil defectors to the ground after he catches them sneaking around the Jedi Temple. The Nihil defectors have been busy, and the Jedi’s trust is going to cost them. Their blind trust in a couple untested Nihil seemed like a big plot hole to me. Especially as they prepare for the Nihil to return with a more violent second wave. Despite wanting to give these Nihil a second chance, their trust is misplaced.
The Nihil defectors have indeed been busy… planting thermal detonators around the Jedi Temple. Before Sav or the Padawans can stop one of the Krill sisters, she detonates them. This is an explosive cliffhanger, with the Nihil ships arriving in orbit just before the last page. The battle for Takodana has begun.
I appreciate Older taking some time to go into the backstory of Qort. We’ve been given a lot of backstory on the other Padawan’s, and Qort’s unique story is pretty cool. Establishing the identities of these characters will pay dividends in future stories as The High Republic enters new phases and jumps decades. It’s really cool to feel like we’re getting in on the ground floor of these characters’ development, whether it’s a comic or novel. It feels like it all matters, not to mention setting up a huge battle which will bring Krix and Zeen together.