Lucasfilm Publishing’s highly anticipated cross-platform, multi-year initiative Star Wars: The High Republic launched this week with its first two novels Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule and A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland. Then today saw the release of the first comic book issue in this ambitious project– Marvel’s Star Wars: The High Republic #1, written by Cavan Scott (Star Wars: Tales from Vader’s Castle) with art by Ario Anindito (Marvel’s Atlantis Attacks).

This kick-off issue of The High Republic comic overlaps with the books in the series I’ve read this far– it doesn’t take place before or after any of them but during… in the wake of the events of Light of the Jedi’s Great Disaster, but (mostly) prior to the grand opening ceremony of the Starlight Beacon space station installed by the Republic in the galaxy’s Outer Rim.

Note: The final printed pages of this comic book are in color, not black and white.

Note: The final printed pages of this comic book are in color, not black and white.

The issue opens with Padawan learner Keeve Trennis entering into her Jedi trials on the planet Shuraden. She’s accompanied by her Trandoshan master Sskeer and a somewhat playfully irritating pixie-like creature named Kanrii, who acts a sort of audience surrogate in asking questions of Keeve and her motivations as she attempts to scale a grouping of large spires to retrieve a pendant placed at one of their peaks by Sskeer. Chaos breaks out in the form of giant insectoid monsters called Ridadi whose migratory senses have been thrown off-course by an unknown source. Setting her trials aside to deal with the emergency, Keeve must make the best use of the resources at her disposal, her Force abilities, and the help of her fellow Jedi to solve the mystery of these beasts and put a stop to the stampede before it destroys a local village of Kanrii’s people the Ximpi.

Meanwhile, we get a glimpse of life aboard the Starlight Beacon for the Jedi stationed there, as they prepare for the station’s opening ceremony and deal with the deaths of their compatriots in events depicted in the above-mentioned novels. There’s also a cameo appearance by a certain famously diminutive Jedi master and a re-introduction to Avar Kriss, the knight who helped bring a sense of order to the pandemonium at Hetzal in Light of the Jedi. It appears as though Kriss, Trennis, and Sskeer will be the three featured characters in this title (as of course indicated by the premiere issue’s gorgeous cover artwork), but we do get to meet a couple interesting supporting roles as well. Plus, this installment ends with an intriguing but– probably intentionally– baffling cliffhanger that left me scratching my head in confusion and looking forward to reading next month’s continuation.

I think Scott and Anindito did a really fantastic job here with the first representation of The High Republic in a visual medium. The art is attractive, the action is clearly staged and well-paced, and the writing is exciting enough to get me psyched all over again for this very promising enterprise. There’s so much potential in Star Wars: The High Republic for an engrossing, intertwining story told through a variety of avenues, and Marvel’s initial graphic effort in tying in to that premise is absolutely a successful one so far. And as always, I’m looking forward to reading more.

Star Wars: The High Republic #1 is available now wherever comic books are sold.