Review: ‘Star Wars: The High Republic’ #9 Explores The Galaxy’s Dark Side

The expressed purpose of the High Republic publishing line is to illuminate a Star Wars era while the Jedi and the Republic are at height. That means a Jedi Order with little bureaucracy and a Republic with fewer moral greys. But Marvel’s Star Wars: The High Republic #9 shows what happens when that era turns dark.

Cover by Phil Noto

With this issue, The High Republic’s comics side enters the initiative’s second phase, and it doesn’t hold back. It comes from Cavan Scott, Ario Anindito, Mark Morales, Annalisa Leoni, & Joe Caramagna.

In Scott’s novel, The Coming Storm, the Nihil attacked the Republic Fair — a massive festival intended to celebrate the advances, diversity, and triumphs of the Republic. The attack was a terrorist event unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the Star Wars universe. And here, we get to see the Republic, led by the Jedi, start to fight back.

It is an interesting take on the Star Wars canon. We’ve seen the Republic at war before — we got two movies and eight seasons of TV — out of it. But the Clone Wars were very different from this. Where that conflict had the heavy political element, as well as Sheev Palpatine playing both sides to get what he wants, this is the Jedi bearing their full strength down on a common enemy. It’s the Jedi at their height truly going to war, and that’s something unseen until now.

Something about this feels darker, more menacing. In this issue, we get two of the series’ protagonists, including lead Keeve Trennis, going undercover within the Nihil. In the Clone Wars series this happened several times with Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka. But something about this set-up feels different, though. There’s a menace to the Nihil that Scott conveys here that is just frightening. 

The Nihil are different from the Sith, the Empire, or the Separatists. These are threats that can’t be contained, and Keeve and Terec may need to cross lines in their mission that we’ve never seen the Jedi cross before. Already, Keeve has been handed a warhammer and been given a target, a Hutt warlord who was her ally just last issue. Anindito and Morales render this perfectly, showing the two Jedi as twisted shadows of what we’ve seen so far — to the point that I believed the heel turn for a moment — while the Nihil are menacing and imposing. Anakin or Obi-Wan would be able to talk their way out of a similar situation, but here, we have a foe that won’t be placated by “she’s more useful alive!”

If you haven’t read The Coming Storm yet, you won’t have this context for the Nihil. In the novel, we saw them as cruel, amoral, and ruthless. The comic book series has primarily been focused on the Drengir threat though, and the Nihil of Light of the Jedi (the series-launching novel published in January) were simply pirates, not these monstrous marauders.

That’s a long way of saying, if you’ve been following the entire initiative, this is a remarkably rewarding and tense read. If you haven’t, then there might be some confusion, and maybe some frustration. I think Scott catches the readers up enough here that it works, but on the flip side, I have been reading The Coming Storm so I am aware of what’s happening.

In the end, though, this is an issue worth picking up, and I think it’s something very unique in the Star Wars universe. There’s a danger and tension here that many Star Wars stories don’t have, in part, because we know that our heroes are going to make it through. That guarantee doesn’t exist in the High Republic, and I’m very interested to see where that goes.

Star Wars: The High Republic #9 is available now from Marvel Comics.

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