Who doesn’t love a Star Wars story by Charles Soule? In Eye of The Storm Soule delivers the first issue into the history of the villain he first brought to life in his bestselling novel Light of the Jedi: the Eye of the Storm himself, Marchion Ro. For those perhaps a bit unfamiliar with The High Republic, Ro is the leader of the destructive group of space pirates known as the Nihil. Ro is as ruthless as he is cunning and after the events of Claudia Grey’s The Fallen Star, is perhaps the most feared man in the galaxy. In this story, Soule is going to let us see beneath the mask and learn more about the history of this sinister foe.
Our story begins with the origin of Ro’s people, the Evereni. I personally dig the name. Hailing from the planet Everon, the people are known as Stewards or Caretakers of the ruthless tempest planet they dwell on. Rather than trying to contain and control the planet’s resources, they sought to preserve the planet. They were trusting the planet would reciprocate. It’s fascinating to think that the people of Ro were once benevolent caretakers.
There was a devastating storm that nearly wiped out the resources available to the Evereni people. A leadership system was established, and those in power were entrusted with rationing the remaining resources. After reading this, I held my breath because we all know what typically follows low planetary supplies and a large population: a massive power struggle.
Centuries of war were waged on the planet of Everon, and the conflict nearly wiped out everyone left. This begins to explain why there is no real clue at Ro’s origins in the novels, or why the species isn’t more prominent in the galaxy — there are few of them left. However, after coming together in a last-ditch effort to survive, they are able to take flight and leave their hostile tempest planet for good. It didn’t take long for the Evereni to start blasting everyone in sight, and I wasn’t surprised by this. The comic does a great job of detailing how they no longer could trust within their families due to what the centuries of war had wrought on their people. A society with an inability to trust anyone from within certainly isn’t going to take too kindly to the new species they are encountering throughout the galaxy.
War once again took its toll on the Evereni people, and they were soon deemed criminals across the galaxy. At this point I was wondering if they would ever reach a breaking point, and we finally see them begin to adapt hereafter. This was the point in the story where I started to become more intrigued. How would the remaining survivors of this warring species adapt to survive? Returning to their “roots” as caretakers so to speak, the Evereni began to quite literally kill people with kindness. Reminds me a bit of the Agbui from the Thrawn Ascendency novels. Posing as your friends and keeping their true intentions secret. I love the imagery here with the glasses of wine pouring out, with the victims having seemingly been poisoned by the Evereni standing over them. It’s a glimpse into how devious they have become.
Part two of this issue sends us to Marchion Ro’s family flagship, the Gaze Electric, 20 years before the Great Disaster in Light of the Jedi. Ro is standing over Mari San Tekka, the masterful hyperspace navigator as his father Asgar, and grandmother Shalla, watch over him.
Be thankful you don’t have Marchion Ro’s family. It’s clear in their conversations they view Ro as the one who will bring about the glory and power the family has been seeking for generations. However, apparently surviving whatever torments he has already endured is not enough, and grandma thinks it’s a good idea his father “toughens” him up a bit more… to say the least. The inclination we get from Ro in the novels is he is either incapable or unwilling to let his guard down to another person. He doesn’t have any emotional ties that we know of, nor does he crave any. It’s clear how this got instilled in him now, as we see his father murder Shalla without a second thought after a disagreement about the Nihil.
Our first look at Tempest Runners Kassav and Pan Eyta comes here too, and it’s interesting to see the Nihil before the Great Disaster. They are not the great storm everyone in the galaxy fears yet, but rather, as Kassav puts it, “barely a breeze”. Interesting note that Lourna Dee is not a Tempest Runner yet. It shows just how much the Nihil will expand leading up to the events of Light of the Jedi.
One has to give Asgar credit for being a bold one. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the Kassav-led Tempest Runners’ first inclination is to kill Asgar upon learning his mother is dead. Being prepared for this inevitability, he made his move. If you come into this issue aware of the Paths the Eye of the Nihil uses, you will know what to expect.
Asgar puts the fortunes of the entire family in a do or die situation with none other than his son Marchion at the helm. He makes contact with Mari San Tekka, and for the first time we see the battle paths in action. The battle paths allow Marchion to travel in and out of hyperspace in the blink of an eye at any location nearly instantaneously. I love this ingenious idea from Soule of how to manipulate hyperspace in this way, and it makes for some brilliant artwork as well.
Laying waste to Nihil ships left and right, the Tempest Runners have seen enough and plead with Asgar to call off the attack. Something I was not expecting was Ro to disobey his father when ordered to stand down. Continuing to savagely cut down ships, his father threatens his life before Ro finally relinquishes. This is the first real glimpse into the force of nature that will become the Eye of the Nihil. This imagery sent a shiver down my spine, since he is currently just a boy.
Part three of this issue is the shortest of them, with a ten-year time jump. This isn’t the story of Asgar. It’s the story of Marchion Ro, and the final pages set the stage for his story to truly begin. After watching his father die, he takes up the mantle as Eye of the Nihil. His twisted relationship with his father is true to the end, as his father is seemingly proud of his son for not attempting to help him before he dies. Although we know Asgar is murdered by one of the Nihil, the manner in which Ro takes up the mantle, with steadfastness and chilling ease, makes you believe he secretly wanted this.
Overall, it was a solid start to an arc I am excited to see play out. Getting the background on the Evereni was especially fascinating, as I love history and getting a glimpse into different species backgrounds in Star Wars. I hope we get to see Lourna Dee in the near future as well as how Marchion comes to know of the Leveler… if he hasn’t already. I am excited to see what Charles Soule continues to deliver with this character he has brought to life. Guillermo Sanna did a masterful job with the artwork too, and I look forward to the February issue.
Final Grade: 7.5/10