As we’ve learned in Star Wars, choices to use the dark side of the Force – no matter how small – always have consequences. Those choices made by some return to haunt the Jedi in the eleventh issue of The High Republic. Writer Cavan Scott is never shy to explore the more terrifying aspects of the galaxy far, far away, and if you look forward to those journeys, this issue will not disappoint you.
Cavan Scott’s own novel, The Rising Storm, remains prerequisite reading for this period in the comics. This issue opens with the Leveler – the devastating device used against the Jedi in the conclusion of his novel. We’ve only read the descriptions of how it alters the perceptions of the Jedi and weaponizes their abilities in the Force. Keeve Trennis is in the midst of this nightmare, struck down by Lourna Dee and her soldiers. Fear overtakes all her senses as it consumes Terec in her vision, but Keeve manages to establish some grip on reality and tries desperately to escape the onslaught on her psyche. Just as an eager runner is about to finish both of them off, Lourna intervenes and reminds her underlings they need the Jedi alive.
On the other side of galaxy, Sskeer and Avar look on as Ceret feels the effects of the Leveler on their twin sibling. Ceret comes out of it, but they are cut off from Terec, and Avar senses the separation through her strong awareness of Force-bonds. Ceret doesn’t wait and runs to the piloting controls, altering their course to where they feel Terec might be. The most disturbing thing Ceret states is their feeling the Force has left them and their twin.
The Jedi arrive at Xais and are greeted by Nihil fighters. Avar and Sskeer quickly take to Vectors to fight off the horde of ships. Eventually, the Nihil turn away and begin to retreat, but one Jedi isn’t done with them.
Sskeer still carries the scars of the dark side, and it overtakes him again. Avar watches in horror, trying to call him off, as he goes on a killing spree against the Nihil. While she lands, Sskeer disarms Lourna and her top soldiers. Ready to kill them, Keeve appears, pleading with her master to stop the violence and focus on helping Terec. This helps ground Sskeer from the aggression the dark side stirred in him, just as Avar arrives.
Even Avar, whose specialty is Force-bonding, can’t reach Terec. Her abilities are greatly disrupted, but the Leveler is restrained for the moment. The Jedi Master has some serious questions though, and there’s only one person who can answer them.
As Lourna Dee attempts to escape, Avar goes full Rey Palpatine and holds the ship back with the Force. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until the next issue to see if the Force or Nihil thrusters win the duel.
This is a very solid issue. I love that writers in The High Republic aren’t afraid to push the story forward with action-packed issues like this. The investment of exposition in all the content of the period so far really pays off, allowing more freedom to have a chase like this without taking time to explain everything. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good backstory, but we know everything we need to about these characters and events. Also thrilled Lourna Dee is taking the seat as primary villain in this arc. She’s a wonderful character, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting more since finishing Scott’s audio-drama Tempest Runner, which provides a huge amount of insight into this complicated character. This series has been very consistent in its quality, and this issue is no exception.