A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the Republic and the Jedi Order were at the peak of their prosperity. Writer Cavan Scott and artist Ario Anindito, along with inker Mark Morales, colorist Annalisa Leoni, and letterer Ariana Maher put together “Star Wars: The High Republic” #1, the first chapter of this unseen age in the Star Wars universe. Set some 200 years before the rise of the Galactic Empire, this issue presents an era full of fantastic new characters (and some old ones) and exciting action, all through the lens of some of the best visual work seen in a Star Wars comic. There’s a lot to be excited for here.
“A new era of STAR WARS storytelling begins. It is centuries before the SKYWALKER SAGA. The JEDI are at their height, protecting the galaxy as REPUBLIC pioneers push out into new territories. As the Frontier prepares for the dedication of majestic STARLIGHT BEACON, PADAWAN KEEVE TRENNIS faces the ultimate choice – will she complete her Jedi Trials or rescue the innocent from disaster? New Jedi! New ships! New evils to fight!”
Writing & Plot
In terms of style, “The High Republic” #1 feels familiar while offering completely new faces, planets, and concepts. Tonally, Cavan Scott’s script feels like a combination of Filoni’s Clone Wars animated series and some of Dark Horse’s The Old Republic offerings. These are grafted together to create a chapter that still come off as totally new while still being undoubtedly Star Wars. Protagonist Keeve Trennis is an awesome new character, focused and loyal to the Jedi way while also having a sort of underworld grit. Her mysterious master is a character that I really look forward to reading more of, as well as just getting to witness the Star Wars universe at this time. This is an era of Star Wars we’ve never gotten a look at, in the centuries just before the fall of the Jedi Order. Scott doesn’t start this series with any kind of grandiose view of the Republic however, as he instead decides to just focus on character with some hints at the larger plot. This more intimate focus and pacing allows for an experience that makes you immediately get into the new characters ad they take you along for this force-wielding ride. The action in this issue again is reminiscent of that Filoni animated style, with a kind of wacky but serious disaster unfolding that is a blast to follow while still having serious stakes. There’s so much we still don’t know abou these characters and the focuses of the Republic and the Jedi Order (as well as their potential adversaries) in this time period, and this comic makes my desire to explore this story and part of the Star Wars universe inescapable.
Putting together the aesthetic and style of not just the iconic Star Wars universe, but a time period in that universe that has never been seen before, is no easy feat. Fortunately, “The High Republic” #1 has the visual talents of artist Ario Anindito and inker Mark Morales to craft a comic that is unmistakably Star Wars while still offering brand new sights. The designs and animations of alien species both new and classic are crafted with an eye for humanity, making them characters on their own regardless of their unusual physiology. Almost every panel has the mysterious design language of a Ralph McQuarrie painting, with the Star Wars brand of space opera beauty shining through. This is a comic book with obviously very high production value, and that can be seen in the high-fidelity visuals on each page. The art style of Anindito and Morales, along with the colors by Annalisa Leoni, fit in with the styles seen in the past few years of Marvel’s Star Wars comics. This is not a negative, as I’ve yet to see a recent Star Wars series with less-than-great art. The panel and page direction has the feel of a storyboard, giving the comic a very film-style feel. The highly dynamic use of lighting and fog here works brilliantly, making the stunning alien world this issue mostly takes place on feel humid, while being onboard the Starlight Beacon feels like taking a step inside the Jedi Temple in the prequel trilogy, but with a bit more golden atmosphere. The colorwork on display here is exceptional; the flora and fauna of alien planets is a varied but grounded array of natural colors, while character details (from Jedi robes to alien horns and scales) have their own wide array of tones. Seeing the cool blue reflection of readouts and holo-displays on characters is still a really cool artistic feat that I’ll never not be impressed by. The letters from Ariana Maher use a slim, modern kind of font that uses a bit of variance from character to character, along with standout sound-effect letters. Every aspect of this book’s visuals fire on all cylinders, and it’s easily one of the best looking Star Wars comics ever published.
“Star Wars: The High Republic” #1 has made me excited for Star Wars is ways I haven’t been in quite some time. This comic displays a fantastic understanding of the Star Wars universe, and uses said understanding to create characters and concepts that seamlessly blend into this fiction, but still feel totally new. The script from Cavan Scott takes the perspective of a protagonist I had a blast reading about from page one, and paints intriguing mystery into this new chapter in Star Wars history. The efforts of the visual team are absolutely astounding, creating some of the most gorgeous views and vistas seen in a Star Wars comic. Whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not, this is a comic worth reading. Be sure to pick it up from your local comic shop when it releases on 1/6!